04/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Corporate Freshman: Big Employees Don't Cry

In this totally unstable business climate, everyone is under a great deal of pressure. People are more prone to snap at each other, and office altercations aren't unusual. Nevertheless, no matter what your job or situation, having a bonefied meltdown at work diminishes your credibility and intrudes on your reputation. Colleagues and managers who think you can't handle stress will take you less seriously, whether they mean to or not. I've even heard of women losing their lose jobs as a result of being perceived as over-emotional.

But how do you avoid crying at work when you're prone to it? The best idea is to think about the type of situations that upset you or make you angry, and practice how you're going to cope when they come up. When I was working in corporate public relations, for example, I used to feel like crying when a situation became overwhelming and chaotic. If I knew that I had a complicated press event coming up, I thought about how I could handle myself when executives started missing interviews and the journalists started complaining. By the time the event arrived, I'd rehearsed it so many times that I was serene as a summer lake.

Sometimes, however, heated discussions or situations will come up out of the blue. In order to handle yourself here, you have to have the self-awareness to know that you're about to lose it. This means paying attention to the signs that a crying jag is on its way - maybe tears are pricking at the back of your eyelids, or your heart is jumping around in your chest. When these signs appear, tell the person or people you're talking to that you need to take a break and then temporarily remove yourself from the situation. Even if your action seems weird, it won't be anywhere near as embarrassing as bursting into tears. Go somewhere else (your office, the bathroom, outside the building) to decompress. Once you're alone, let the tears flow if you need to, but make an effort to relax and calm yourself down. Consider ways to re-approach the situation without getting upset or angry, and then, catch up with your colleagues to continue the discussion.

Since we're talking about crying here, most men will think this article doesn't apply to them. And I have to admit that I've never seen a man burst into tears in the workplace. However, the way men express emotion is often to yell, which has the same bad effect on your reputation as crying. These tips are just as applicable for you guys out there, so use them and stay cool!