Tears of Clown

Do you find the tears flowing freely when you see a Publix commercial around holiday time (that darned Pilgrim couple)? Do movies like The Notebook and Beaches leave you in a tear-streaked mess? Do you wear your emotions on your sleeve for all to see? If so, then we need to talk, because I need to know (and embrace) you!

In my quest to bring greater civility to our community, I have discovered that much of our lack of empathy and aloofness is caused by a certain stoicism and our need to be viewed as all-knowing and powerful that just does not compute in my boy-from- Ohio world. You know what I am talking about. You may have been both victim and perpetrator in this emotional journey.

In fact, stepping on others (and their feelings) seems to be a sport in this town at times and — well, I just don’t get it. It is a major OUCH! Maybe it is not meant purposefully or maliciously, but the immediate effects are just the same. Worse yet, the lasting impressions may never fully heal leading to long-term disengagement. To forgive is divine, I remind you — and right now, we need a little divine intervention.

Most of my friends find it hilarious that I tear up so freely, especially at a movie (even during the previews!). It could be the feature presentation, re-run of a TV show or even a commercial — I am equally susceptible. And it does not have to be Terms of Endearment, either. I get just as mushy at those cleverly cute Minions as I do Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine. They just steal my heart.

I cannot explain how it happens. All of a sudden, in the middle of a scene, my face gets warm, my throat tightens up and out come the tears — hot and free flowing and embarrassingly blubbery. I used to try to hide it by refusing to breathe in or sniffle. But now, I wipe away those tears with gusto and conviction.

Yet, I get it. I understand that vulnerability can be both an asset and a liability. Most of all, it is a real and true emotion. One that we do not see often enough in the workplace or in our social circles.

Maybe it is our fear of being judged and deemed weak. No one would confuse my having a good cry during Pitch Perfect 2 as a sign of weakness. Soft? Sure. Not in control of my emotions? Maybe. A big baby? Probably.

Now, you never have to worry about me going all John Boehner on you. Our Speaker of the House is even more of a blubbering sob-bucket than I am. But, I get it. I applaud it. I totally understand it. His emotions are as raw as sugar cane, even if at times not as sweet.

We both spend much of our day making the tough decisions, hearing the sad stories, solving impossible problems and having to deliver news that is not always the very best. But, we do so with a deeper understanding of the impact of these conversations and how they affect lives and livelihoods. We emote for the greater good and to show that inside, we are as real as the moments require us to be.

There is no accounting for a work environment devoid of emotion. Being stoic may seem a solid maneuver at the negotiation table; but the truth is, managers who share genuine warmth and honesty are often the most successful. At least that is what I keep telling myself. I am in a job that requires that I be always “on.” After nearly a decade in this role, that can be exhausting. But, I prefer to find it motivating and refreshing — an opportunity to recharge.

So, I will continue to work on me, and I encourage you to do so, as well, and embrace the emotional parts. So, for the moment, no tears here — just the opportunity to effect change.

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