As we sat in our small group meeting, *Michelle just started bawling. We were simply going over the previous week’s events and she started sobbing uncontrollably. After she calmed down, she started explaining that *Chris had just “lost it” on her over what appeared to be miscommunication. My supervisor consoled her and stated she would speak with Chris about his behavior.
This meeting left me baffled. I couldn’t understand why Michelle had started crying. I was angry that she didn’t stand up for herself and let him know that it was not okay for him to disrespect her or speak to her that way. I had a very difficult time grasping why she cried instead of being assertive and letting Chris know that he was out of line.
Then, I realized I was just as wrong as Chris.
Women are entitled to experience emotions while they’re at work or at home or at the grocery store, even if that means crying. I wasn’t allowing her the freedom to do so by thinking that she should have stood up for herself or given him a piece of her mind. Apparently, that wasn’t her first instinct. And that’s okay. She was hurt. He was mean to her. And when he yelled at her and belittled her, it made her feel inadequate. His behavior offended her to the point of tears. And it is perfectly okay for her to feel that way.
It’s Time to Fix the Work Culture
He had no right to speak to her that way. Unfortunately, this behavior can be way too common with males in the workplace. At this particular organization, male superiority has taken on an age-old meaning; it’s like 1952 in there. Men are king, holding upper level management positions and the women are subservient, working mainly in administrative and assistant roles. Subtle yet completely obvious.
In this environment, you can only imagine how difficult it is to be a woman. You don’t want to appear too emotional and come off as weak yet you want to remain true to who you are. You just want to exist and be a woman. Workplaces should allow the freedom to do so. Cry if you need to. At your desk. In a meeting. Go to the bathroom if you insist but by all means, don’t suppress your emotions for the sake of looking vulnerable or weak. As women, we have a right to honor who we are even if that means being emotional sometimes. But when Chris lost it on Michelle, he was being just as emotional and did not hide it. We are allowed to exist and express our emotions just as much as males.
Being a female working professional can be tough but it doesn’t have to be. Once we learn to be okay with being ourselves and allow every part of us to exist, a load is lifted. No holds barred. And companies need to create an environment in which we feel comfortable doing so. The organizational culture plays an important role in the behavior and attitudes of employees. If a welcoming and open environment has been established and continues to be fostered through training and development, the culture will be maintained. People like Chris won’t be so comfortable yelling at another employee to the point of tears.
As always, take what you need and leave the rest.
*Names have been changed for the sake of privacy.
Head over to the store and check out Go, Girl!: A Guided Self-Discovery Workbook to Help You Dig Through Your Stuff and Live Your Best Life. I hope it blesses you as much as it blessed me to write it!