Personally I have never been a fan of crying publicly at work, for no other reason than the blatant refusal to let those who sparked the waterworks have the satisfaction of seeing the effect of their words or actions towards me.
And, secretly, I never wanted to be "that girl"; the one who cried whenever her emotions got the better of her.
That's not to say there weren't times I didn't disappear into the bathroom and howl into a bunch of paper towels or find a secluded corner while I momentarily transformed into a shuddering human snot cannon.
Like it or not, Western corporate culture in many industries still remains male-dominated and many women feel they are required to conduct themselves as a man would in order to succeed.
Which includes remaining reserved when it comes to any signs of 'feminine' emotions, displays of weakness and any other behaviour that may make others feel uncomfortable or awkward; the act of crying can be perceived as all three.
Should crying at work be something we embrace as a sign of our mere mortal existence or something that should be avoided like the plague if we're attempting to hike the corporate ladder?
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has publicly admitted to having cried on Mark Zuckerberg's shoulder at work and believes that sharing emotions can build deeper relationships.
Sandberg attracted attention, empathy and criticism globally when she released her best-selling book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, which openly discusses women's struggles in the male-dominated workplace and advises women to "lean in" to reach their true potential.
The 43-year-old, who has a personal fortune of $US500 million frankly confessed, “I cry at work! Women are not 'one type' of person Monday through Friday and then a different person in the nights and weekend.
“We are all emotional beings and it's OK for us to share that emotion at work. Emotions, after all, were developed as survival mechanisms; they're hardwired into our biology,” says Sandberg.
She advocates that, rather than spending time beating ourselves up for crying, we should accept the act as a part of what it means to be a human, an emotional being who doesn't shut off at 9am.
“When the clock starts. I agree: People tend to think that work life is different from real life when, in fact, life is life. What's more, we are working more and longer hours than ever before and the lines between the professional and the personal are increasingly blurred,” says Sandberg.
Research conducted by Anne Kreamer for her book It's Always Personal: Emotion in the New Workplace found that both men and women at all levels of management admitted to crying on the job. Around 40 per cent of women and 9 per cent of men confessed they had cried at work and it had no impact in terms of overall career success.
Perception also played an interesting part in Kreamer's findings - when we talk about crying at work, we mostly refer to women, but who is doing the perceiving?
In keeping with the notion that women are harsher on other women, both at work and in their personal lives, Kreamer discovered that male managers reported being OK with female employees crying, while female managers were far less empathetic.
Kreamer also highlights in her study the biological differences between the sexes, explaining that women have six times more prolactin - a hormone directly related to crying - than men.
As oestrogen is a key regulator of prolactin, levels of this hormone obviously increase in women during stages of their reproductive cycle when oestrogen levels are at their highest.
Peggy Drexler, author and psychologist, addresses the question: Can crying at work be a powerful tool, even for women, if employees learn to recognise that most emotion at work stems from frustration rather than pettiness or sadness?
Drexler believes that crying in an intimate setting can indeed be a positive tool to reinforce the bond and camaraderie between employees in an attempt to address a situation that's upsetting, as people tend to connect with what they view as an authentic display of emotion.
“Often crying invokes in co-workers and employees a natural empathy and a desire to help. Tears can also be persuasive, they show that we're deeply moved, which in turn moves our audience,” says Drexler.
Drexler also says that revealing a certain amount of emotion can lead to re-evaluation of a situation and initiate a productive conversation which, in turn, may help everyone work more efficiently and successfully.
There are however times when crying in the workplace isn't acceptable. “Tears are less effective and possibly damaging when they occur in large group settings or during interactions with, say, clients,” says Drexler.
Drexler also believes that crying shouldn't be used to get what you want or to purposefully manipulate because it's the only way you can handle criticism. “In such a situation, excuse yourself to use the bathroom or get a drink of water,” says Drexler.
- FFX Aus