Alice Jones: Tears at your desk may be acceptable, but over-sharing is never a great idea

 

Share

It's my multibillionaire company and I'll cry if I want to. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, talked this week in a speech to Harvard Business School about the positive power of crying at work.

"I've cried at work. I've told people I've cried at work," she said. "I talk about my hopes and fears and ask people about theirs. I try to be myself – honest about my strengths and weaknesses – and I encourage others to do the same." It might be argued that as one of the most distinguished business chiefs in America, if not the world, she could probably come to work in her pyjamas, and demand a constant supply of Twinkies and no one would dare to call her on it. For those lower down the ladder, leaking eyes and a snivelly nose make for a less good workplace look. For women – according to one study, four times more likely to cry at work than men – tears at the computer terminal are to be avoided. You can't knock on the glass ceiling with a fist full of snotty tissues.

Sandberg's point is that it is important to show one's human side at work. "If you want to win hearts and minds, you have to lead with your heart as well as your mind." It's the modern, touchy-feely approach to leadership. Moderation is the key. You don't have to talk only margins and strategy to succeed. And while an occasional crack in one's professional carapace can be excused and may even lead to office bonding, melt down too frequently and colleagues will, quite rightly, start to question whether you're up to the job.

Is it disheartening that it's a female who is advocating emotions in the boardroom? Perhaps, but Sandberg has valid things to say on women in the workplace. They should be allowed, she says, to be both mothers and managers, rather than simply "manning up" to climb up the ranks. As she rightly says, it's this kind of discussion around "having it all" that will start to right the gender wrongs.

What's less solid is her assertion: "I don't believe we have a professional self from Mondays through Fridays and a real self for the rest of the time ... It is all professional and it is all personal, all at the very same time." Is it? No one sane would argue against the benefits of a work-life balance but it's surely healthier to keep the two a little separate rather than merging them into one big caring-sharing-earning blur. The latter, though, is precisely what Facebook wants: for us to share everything with everyone, all the time. To lift the privacy settings at our desk, as well as on our profile pages.

Sandberg advised the class of 2012 to keep in touch via Facebook. "And since we're public now, while you are there, click on an ad." But of course. She's not COO of Facebook for nothing. You can cry if you want to, but never take your weeping eyes off the bottom line.

* Is there a Diamond Jubilee on? I hadn't noticed. With the streets cobwebbed in bunting, cupcakes topped with red, white and blue icing on every corner and wall-to-wall forelock-tugging on the BBC, this weekend's celebrations will be impossible to ignore – even if one wanted to. Nor is the next round of noisy collective patriotism far off, with less than two months to go until the Olympics.

One person must be enjoying the unusual amount of fluster rather more than anyone else - though he might not show it. Andy Murray. Remember him? The great, growling white hope of British tennis.

In a normal summer, the Brits tend to focus most of their face-painting and flag-waving on a single soggy fortnight at the end of June, putting intolerable pressure on the shoulders of any Brit who dares to step on to Centre Court.

Could it be this year, with so many other outlets for the nation's jingoistic energies, that Murray is allowed to play in peace without the accompanying Mania?

Probably not, but it's a nice thought.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: SEN Teacher required with immediate...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required for a College i...

Year 1 Teacher required in Haverhill

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Teacher required for ...

Lecturer - Construction

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Construction Lecturer needed for a Col...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Cameron's unpopularity has been heavily used  

Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the George Bush of Britain

Jean-Paul Faguet
 

The EU must take more responsibility for the migrants risking their lives to reach Italy

Benjamin Ward
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week