“There’s no crying in baseball.” Tom Hanks, A League of Your Own, movie about a girl’s baseball team.
A female client was embarrassed about crying on a recent coaching call. Let’s call her Cathy. Cathy started her green building consulting firm seven years ago with her first client, a large, affluent, and influential city in climate change. It was her dream come true. Her company contracts with and delivers services to other cities. They develop new and innovative services because of her work with this city. So, what’s to cry about?
Not all women are emotional, but most of us are. It is part of being female, and it does not mean anything, as Meg Ryan said to her troops in the movie “Courage Under Fire.” Cathy was nonetheless emotional and cried on our call. That first client renewed her contract as expected. This time, they awarded the contract to two companies, not just hers. To Cathy, this was devastating. Were they moving her company out? A reasonable question. Cathy will navigate this, find a solution for her company and replace that revenue. She will stabilize her relationship with this city.
We all experience setbacks with unexpected impacts. We call this life and is the nature of business. How we react to these disappointments varies. Cathy is not the first woman to cry in a coaching session. It happens a lot because I know this is how most women release energy. I do not react except to encourage them to cry. Once a woman cries and releases the energy and emotions stimulated by an event or experience, she feels clear-headed, regains her perspective, and finds new determination.
Women who do not permit themselves to cry are affected longer by an event or experience. Holding onto emotion or the energy it restimulates stops our energy from moving, alters our thinking, and we lose our perspective. Crying can be essential for some of us. Crying with your coach is one thing. Crying in a meeting with our employees or your boss can be quite different. Crying in these circumstances is most often not a choice. Releasing emotions is a natural way of healing and usually occurs naturally. Crying does not always make sense. How we react makes all the difference.
In the movie, Courage Under Fire, Meg Ryan is the commander of the troops. They were under fire in a life-threatening situation. Her troops were waiting for her, their commander, to make a decision that would save their lives. Her character started to cry. The troops were horrified. The commander looked at her troops and said, “This does not mean anything!” then she made the decision that saved everyone.
When we cry in front of others, we do not need them to be comfortable with us or even comfort us. It is not about them. Not meant to control anyone. We need the space to release. When we are comfortable with our emotions, so are others.
Women are different from men in many ways. We create, think, and react in feminine ways. Companies benefit when they allow those differences. Research at the University of California, Sacramento shows that companies with women in executive positions or on their boards are more successful than those who do not.
Women are often emotional. It’s part of being female. When we own our emotions, let ourselves feel, or even cry, we can heal and regain perspective. Being confident and strong does not mean denying our feelings. When we own our emotions, we are more capable and confident. We do not have to hide who we are or some aspect of ourselves. Cry to be strong and confident in who we are.