Should we be crying our way up the career ladder? Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on how tears can help women succeed at work


Should we be crying our way up the career ladder Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on how tears can help women succeed at work

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UPDATED:

16:38 GMT, 30 May 2012

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has encouraged women to cry at work, revealing that she attributes her tears to part of her success.

During a speech to Harvard Business School, the 42-year-old doled out career advice to graduating students, disclosing details of how she paved her way to success in Silicon Valley, and addressed gender issues at work.

Speaking to the aspiring entrepreneurs, she said: 'I’ve cried at work. I’ve told people I’ve cried at work… I try to be myself.'

Aspiring to inspire: During a speech to Harvard Business School, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg encouraged women to cry at work, attributing tears and 'authentic communication' as part of her success

Sheryl Sandberg: During a speech to Harvard Business School, the Facebook COO encouraged women to cry at work

She continued: 'I talk about my hopes and fears and ask people about theirs… [I am] honest about my strengths and weaknesses
and I encourage others to do the same. It is all professional and it is
all personal, all at the very same time.'

Ms Sandberg's theory may not be completely off kilter, either.

Workplace tears do not appear to have the same career suicide stigma they used to, with 41per cent of women claiming they have cried at work, compared with nine per cent of men.

In most of these cases, it does not affect workplace performance, and in some instances, ability to show emotion can be viewed as an asset, according to Anne Kreamer’s new book, It’s Always Personal: Emotion In The New Workplace.

'I don’t believe we have a professional self from Mondays through Fridays and a real self the rest of the time'

However Ms Sandberg made the distinct comparison between authentic tears, and manipulative waterworks, warning against dishonest crying.

She said: 'As we strive to be more authentic in our
communication, we should also strive to be more authentic in a broader
sense. I talk a lot about bringing your whole self to work – something I
believe in deeply.'

Ms Sandberg also expressed her view on the separation, or lack thereof, between work and personal life.

She said: 'I don’t believe we have a professional self from Mondays through Fridays and a real self for the rest of the time.

'That
kind of division probably never worked, but in today’s world, with a
real voice, an authentic voice, it makes even less sense,' she added.

Crying at work: Ms Sanberg made a distinct comparison between authentic tears, and manipulative waterworks, however, warning against dishonest crying

Crying at work: Ms Sanberg warned against dishonest waterworks however

This isn't the first time that Ms Sandberg has made strong statements about work and life balance, however.

In April she told the PBS/AOL's Makers Project that everyone should leave work at 5:30 and admitted to using a breast pump during conference calls, telling her colleagues that the buzzing they could hear was a firetruck.

Ms Sandberg revisited some of these points in her Harvard speech, explaining to the graduating class they need to start talking openly about the flexibility needed to have both a job and a life.

She said: 'A couple of weeks ago in an interview I said that I leave the office at 5 pm to have dinner with my children, and I was shocked at the press coverage.

'One of my friends said I couldn’t get more headlines if I had murdered someone with an axe! This showed me this is an unresolved issue for all of us, men and women,' she added.

Advising the Harvard students on becoming successful leaders in the workplace, she continued: 'There aren’t enough senior women out there… so it falls upon the men who are graduating today just as much, or more than the women, not just to talk about gender but to help these women succeed.'