Crying during confrontation

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 2
433 posts
Helper bee

Aww no bee 🙁

Are you a nurse? You said ‘patient’ so I’m assuming you are a health professional. If so, I’m studying to be a nurse and this is something I worry about doing and I’m not the best at taking criticism :/ I wonder if any other health care bees have some tips on handling rude patients?

But as for what the patient said, for every 1 patient who has something nasty to say about you there will be 100 who want to thank you. Don’t let it get you down 🙂

Post # 4
180 posts
Blushing bee

I’m sorry that happened to you, and how r.u.d.e of that patient! Remember, sometimes people aren’t happy with xyz but then sadly use an innocent person as an outlet. I sympathize…I often cry whenever I get emotional, regardless whether I’m happy, sad, angry, or embarrassed… it’s frustrating because it often makes me seem even more emotional than I am. But the tears will sometimes just start rolling 

Post # 5
11480 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

Yes. I am not now at my current job but previously have been a middle and even senior-level manager, and I have always disliked the fact that I often ended up showing emotion in annual reviews and other times when I’ve had to offer negative feedback and even glowing, positive feedback to the people who worked for me. I ended up getting tears in my eyes frequently in those situations, either because I had empathy for someone who needed to improve something, or I was so thankful for and proud of the people who did such a great job.

My current job is extremely stressful. Although it is related to the kind of work I used to do, the environment is very different in so many ways. I have had a difficult time in my own reviews when bosses expect certain things from me in this type of setting that do not come easily or naturally to me, and I have ended up in tears several times. I am a perfectionist, and I have generally excelled at my work, but there are some majorly different factors involved in the type of business model I now have to work within vs. the way I worked in my prior career path.

I agree with you that showing too much emotion at work is unprofessional, and I have tried to apologize and make a bit of a joke about my being too emotional. However, I wish I had not shown so much emotion in the first place.

I don’t really have too much advice to offer except that people will realize that our having emotions just makes us human, and when all is said and done, that ultimately can’t be considered a terrible thing.

Post # 6
1553 posts
Bumble bee

redwinetime :  I feel your pain. I tear up when I get stressed. It’s so unprofessional and embarrassing. I usually dash to the bathroom or grab my phone pretending someone has called me and go into a quiet room, take a few deep breaths, have some water and calm myself down

Post # 7
4854 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

Are you new to healthcare? It took me a while but now I don’t find it hurtful anymore. 

Firstly you don’t have to tolerate abusive behaviour. Unless your patient is suffering from dementia or a cognitive issue or something that causes these behaviours, you can tell them outright. “Do not use that language when you speak to me. I’m here to help, and will do what I can but I cannot help you if you’re going to be disrespectful”. Do not be aggressive or emotional. Be very matter of fact about it. Then turn the conversation into listening to what the real problem is. In my experience, the vast majority of the time a patient is being aggressive is because they are in pain, scared or otherwise have something going on, and want to feel heard or have more control. Deal with that first then move on. “I can tell you’re frustrated (acknowledges them) so what’s going on?”. Maybe they don’t want to be here. Maybe they’re sick of being sick. I find they’re usually willing to let you know what’s up. Then help them see the point. Yes this test/procedure sucks. I’m sorry you have to go through this. I hear you. But let’s try to get through it so you can go home/feel better/ etc. 

If they’re intent on being abusive, end the conversation. Go in with someone else later. Have the attending physician deal with it. If you must deal with them,disregard the abusuve crap and remain neutral. Sometimes they’re just looking for a response. 

It someone is loosely cooperative , I offer them two choices where I can. Often having some degree of control helps them calm down. Also always give them information as to what’s going on, ask them if they have questions or concerns. 

Overall, consider the source. They’re not mad at you most likely. They’re sick and mad at the situation. It’s not personal. 


if the tears are there and there’s no stopping them, run cold water over your wrists , drink cold water, wipe your face, do some deep breathing and distraction. Go back in with no shame. 

Post # 8
175 posts
Blushing bee

Nurse here. I’ve dealt with nasty patients and family members when I was in the CVICU. One time I was actively doing CPR on a patient when a different patient’s wife walked into the room and asked for his Tylenol because I was 8 minutes late. After, when my coding patient was not revived, the wife of the other patient told me it was because I was a horrible nurse (she listened to the whole code and knew he died). I was definitely tearful. Point of the story: you aren’t alone! 

Now that I have a few years under my belt, I have a few tricks. One is that when I feel tears coming, I rapidly do random addition in my head. For some reason, 103+73=176, 234+51=285, etc seems to distract me from crying. Also, I imagine telling the person off and seeing their face. Careful with this though, you might actually say something inappropriate (I’ve come close!). 


Post # 9
19 posts
  • Wedding: April 2017

LOL how funny this happens to me. Do you cry easily in movies too? If yes, you’re probably just highly sensitive like I am. Words really can hurt and while some have a thicker skin for it, I don’t. You probably also hate confrontation. All I can say is, this is how I am, and I happen to be a people pleaser without the greatest self esteem. I don’t walk around with my head down, I just happen to question myself a lot. I’m highly empathetic and if someone else, a complete stranger, is crying about their dog dying, so will I. 


That said, In work confrontations I’ve been a sobbing mess. I’ve had a customer tell me off and call me a B*tch and sweep all the stuff off my desk. In the moment I looked her in the face stone cold and said to leave the office before I called the police. After she left I broke down crying and was trembling.


When I asked my boss for a raise and he didn’t say yes right away, I immediately started crying from feeling unappreciated and embarrassed.


When my employee tried to lie to corporate about me, I bawled my eyes out from the betrayal as I saw her like a sister. 


When I called my boss and explained that I didn’t understand how to read a financial report and he sounded annoyed and said I should know this, I started crying silently on the other end of the phone and beat myself up all night about it. 


 Best I can figure, I’m just overly sensitive to what people think about me because I don’t have strong enough self esteem and I take everything personally when I shouldn’t (when it comes to work).

Post # 10
5098 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: January 2017

Oh girl I feel for you. When in was visiting a friend at our local hospital there was a lady a few doors down ranting at her nurse saying she was horrible,  the worst, should quit her job bla bla bla. The nurse completely ignored it and asked if she wanted more juice or needed help with anything and the lady screeched baxk , “NOOOOOO!!” . So it’s not just you getting this.  There are a lot of crabby miserable people in hospitals. You get people at their sickest and worst, don’t take what some say to heart. 

Post # 11
585 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2017

My job recently underwent a huge management upheaval and we changed the way we do scheduling. I used to get super preferential scheduling for my seniority, but the new system just auto-fills and it has weird algorithms and I was getting terrible schedules. I tried to give it some time to work out the kinks but when it went on for 2 months I was beyond frustrated. A  new schedule came out and I had the absolute worst combination of shifts. It was the worst schedule I had ever had since I first started and didn’t know any better about decent shifts. I approached my manager about it, full of anger and ready to lay out the facts. instead, when I tried to start talking I just burst into tears and sobbed about how I would think after everything I have given to this company I would be treated with more respect. It was such an embarssingly weird reaction to something that is not cry-worthy. The manager felt really bad though and ever since then my schedules have been the so I guess it’s okay. I’m still really ashamed of how unprofessional it was. I’m not usually a cryer but yes, a few times a year it sneaks up on me out of nowhere. I suspect it’s a perfect storm of being really worked up about an issue and hormones. 

Post # 12
171 posts
Blushing bee

Ugh I know the feeling! I can generally hold it together while I’m being abused/challenged but weirdly, if I’m on the verge of tears as soon as someone says something nice or sympathetic I’m off and crying. 

Post # 13
1590 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2017

I know the feeling! I’ve had difficult conversations with parents and coworkers at work that have left me teary and I’ve had to fight the tears off mid-conversation sometimes. I stay calm by reminding myself I can have a cry in the toilets soon, haha. 

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