Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: SPuck on February 15, 2013, 09:24:27 AM

Title: Crocodile Tears
Post by: SPuck on February 15, 2013, 09:24:27 AM
So after reading some of the other threads posted on the board about dealing with people who blow small problems out of proportion, I was wondering what is the best way to deal with someone who cries? Rising above the fray is easier with anger because people outside of the situation won't judge you. On the other hand I could understand people taking pause to responding coldly or walking away from someone who crying. On the other hand I wouldn't always want to be feigning sympathy for someone who always cries over split milk. What is the best way to handle someone who over reacts by crying all the time? Whether they are doing it purposely or because they don't know other ways to express themselves?
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: QueenofAllThings on February 15, 2013, 09:39:36 AM
As someone who often bursts into tears when angry (and believe me, I wish I had control over it), I don't think that responding coldly is helpful.  The emotions are genuine, even if it may seem silly that I'm crying. I don't, however, feign tears to get my way, and have no patience with that sort of behavior.  The trick is differentiating between the two. 
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Yvaine on February 15, 2013, 09:59:04 AM
I sometimes involuntarily break into tears during a strongly emotional argument. I don't do it on purpose--I'm usually trying pretty hard not to cry because I'm worried it'll weaken my argument. ;) What I want most, and your mileage may vary, is for the person to keep talking to me like I'm not crying. Let me go grab a tissue and compose myself and pretend it didn't happen. Don't stop the discussion and start going "there, there," I want to finish whatever we were talking about. It's an involuntary physical reaction and it's probably annoying me and I wish it would go away. But this may just be me.

My dissolving-into-misery cries are very different and usually not in the middle of an argument--they're sort of out of nowhere and usually triggered by some minor annoyance that isn't the real issue at all. The "my dog died so now I'm crying because there's a hole in my sock" sort of thing. That's when I want a hug and sympathy.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: MasterofSquirrels on February 15, 2013, 10:13:46 AM
I don't think crocodile tears are the right term. Many adults cry when they are frustrated and angry. Not that we want sympathy, we are just feeling emotion that comes out our eyes. The best thing to do is not do anything. Continue the argument/discussion/debate as if no one is crying.

If someone cries because they don't like your answer to something? I would still do nothing about the tears, and reevaluate the friendship. I have had experience with that, I pretend they aren't crying, or, if the conversation is interrupted to the point of stopping, I ask coolly "are you finished" and continue with my last point. 

People cry for all kinds of reasons. I think the trick is figuring out why. Is it because that is how emotion is released for them? Did something really sad happen and as another PP said, the hole in the sock is devastating today, or is someone trying for emotional blackmail? With out a specific example, it's hard to really give a concrete answer.

Hopefully the crier is someone you know well, and can gauge why crying is happening. If it's an acquaintance, ugh, I find that incredibly awkward and I have just stood there like a fool, not knowing where to look, what to say, or if I should just leave.

Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: fountainof on February 15, 2013, 10:19:56 AM
I generally just carry on as if the person isn't crying unless it is sobbing.  Generally, people who cry from frustration or anger or something like that I have seen just cry a bit, it isn't really over the top that I cannot just pass a tissue and move forward.  I have only seen real sobbing at things like a funeral or from small kids (like my 3.5 yo sobs over everything sometimes).

I can generally tell fake crying when people aren't really emotional but they just use it as their go to in situations they are trying to manipulate.  In that case, I say "i'll give you a few minutes to get yourself together and we can discuss further". 
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: LeveeWoman on February 15, 2013, 10:21:26 AM
So after reading some of the other threads posted on the board about dealing with people who blow small problems out of proportion, I was wondering what is the best way to deal with someone who cries? Rising above the fray is easier with anger because people outside of the situation won't judge you. On the other hand I could understand people taking pause to responding coldly or walking away from someone who crying. On the other hand I wouldn't always want to be feigning sympathy for someone who always cries over split milk. What is the best way to handle someone who over reacts by crying all the time? Whether they are doing it purposely or because they don't know other ways to express themselves?

To me, crocodile tears are shed by people who manipulate others.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: FlyingBaconMouse on February 15, 2013, 10:22:22 AM
As someone who often bursts into tears when angry (and believe me, I wish I had control over it), I don't think that responding coldly is helpful.  The emotions are genuine, even if it may seem silly that I'm crying. I don't, however, feign tears to get my way, and have no patience with that sort of behavior.  The trick is differentiating between the two.

I agree. If I am crying in an outside-my-house situation (barring something bad actually happening to myself or someone else), it is generally from frustration or anger, less "me crying" than "me not yelling." I will also probably be apologizing as I break down, so I would want it to just be ignored beyond that point.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: SPuck on February 15, 2013, 10:30:29 AM
To me, crocodile tears are shed by people who manipulate others.

That was what I was referring to. The problem is it is hard to tell, and even if you know that someone is a manipulative liar, it is hard not to look like the bad guy.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: LeveeWoman on February 15, 2013, 10:36:01 AM
To me, crocodile tears are shed by people who manipulate others.

That was what I was referring to. The problem is it is hard to tell, and even if you know that someone is a manipulative liar, it is hard not to look like the bad guy.

That's what the manipulative liar is counting on. I'd distance myself from such a person.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Zilla on February 15, 2013, 10:55:34 AM
If it's a frequent occurrence, I would ignore the tears and treat it as an outburst of words.  And comfort her as if she said something rather cried.  Crying is just an expression of sorts.  If they are crocodile tears, she would use lying words.  Same thing. 


In other words, don't react to the tears, just to the words/situation they represent.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Hollanda on February 15, 2013, 10:57:07 AM
I frequently cry when things get out of my control.  If I am feeling "too much" of an emotion, whether it be frustration, anger or even immense happiness. When I do, it is usually alone or with DH, not anyone else.  I hate being "comforted" when I cry, especially by work colleagues or strangers, and far prefer to go into the toilets and have a quiet cry there to let it out my system.   IME manipulative criers tend to prefer to cry in front of an audience, as a kind of "She's being mean to me" kind of way. Either that or, "Nothing else has worked so I'm going to cry to get what I want" last-ditch effort.  Either of those lose my respect and I walk away.
 
With someone who is crying out of frustration? If it is a friend of mine, I ask them to come back to me when they feel able to. Work colleague? Discreetly suggest the toilets or somewhere quieter and leave them to it.  My work colleagues have seen me upset and I have seen most of them upset, it happens. We're not robots and we all have emotions.  That said, we don't all choose to use them to manipulate others.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: GratefulMaria on February 15, 2013, 10:59:06 AM
MIL doesn't cry to manipulate per se, but her emotions take center stage no matter whose crisis it is.  She's very fond of wallowing in whatever state of mind exists for her.  One time when she broke down during a situation DH was dealing with (she was on the phone with me), she went on about her own experience with something similar years ago and then bravely offered a watery apology.  I couldn't very well deny how upsetting it was for her, no matter how much her self-absorption angered me, and I just said something like, "No problem, it's a serious business."

This is another case where context informs most of my conclusion.  I already knew she was the center of the universe, so I just kept things as neutral as possible.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 15, 2013, 11:10:40 AM
I've been accused of crying crocodile tears, feeling sorry for myself, or "trying to make it all about you" when someone else is crying and I can't help but join in.  Heck, I'm like Truvy from Steel Magnolias, no one cries alone in my presence.  That is if they are crying for a good reason*.  When my sons cry because they're not getting their way, it's easy to not cry myself.

But I am not the manipulative sort of crier at all.  I just cry easily. Not at the drop of a hat, just that's how I naturally deal with some emotions.  Believe me, I wish I weren't so sensitive and could be more thick-skinned, as it can be really embarrassing at times.  And when my loved ones are crying it triggers it in me too.  Once my MIL had to say goodbye to a dog she'd fostered and was very close to.  I had just met the dog but seeing her cry at having to hand him going got my waterworks going too. 

*Good reasons: loss of any kind, stress/overwhelmed, hurt feelings, disappointment, justified anger, pain.

I've always thought of crocodile tears being those like toddlers bring on when they are told "No!" My 15 month old has gotten around to doing that.  Say if he wants my pop and I tell him "No, not for you!" on come the tears.  When I give him a cup of his own juice the waterworks stop instantly.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: rose red on February 15, 2013, 11:21:51 AM
I would say "I'll give you some privacy" and walk away.  If the tears are real, they may indeed need privacy.  If it's fake, they've just lost an audience.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: LadyDyani on February 15, 2013, 11:44:49 AM
I hate being "comforted" when I cry, especially by work colleagues or strangers, and far prefer to go into the toilets and have a quiet cry there to let it out my system. 

This.

When someone tries to comfort me, I end up crying even harder. When my grandfather died, my parents called me at work to tell me. I ended up waving my coworker back to her desk so I could tell her over chat, because every time she patted me on the back, my throat closed up even more.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: LeveeWoman on February 15, 2013, 11:49:40 AM
I would say "I'll give you some privacy" and walk away.  If the tears are real, they may indeed need privacy.  If it's fake, they've just lost an audience.

That's how I would handle it.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: GratefulMaria on February 15, 2013, 11:51:50 AM
I hate being "comforted" when I cry, especially by work colleagues or strangers, and far prefer to go into the toilets and have a quiet cry there to let it out my system. 

This.

When someone tries to comfort me, I end up crying even harder. When my grandfather died, my parents called me at work to tell me. I ended up waving my coworker back to her desk so I could tell her over chat, because every time she patted me on the back, my throat closed up even more.

This is a huge distinction, in my opinion.  When MIL cries, it's to get comfort -- nothing wrong with that in and of itself -- and start a huge, thorough discussion of how moving her situation is.

Again, I'm not sure that this is so much a case of "crocodile tears" as someone who has a pre-Copernican worldview.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: PastryGoddess on February 15, 2013, 12:18:39 PM
I hate being "comforted" when I cry, especially by work colleagues or strangers, and far prefer to go into the toilets and have a quiet cry there to let it out my system. 

This.

When someone tries to comfort me, I end up crying even harder. When my grandfather died, my parents called me at work to tell me. I ended up waving my coworker back to her desk so I could tell her over chat, because every time she patted me on the back, my throat closed up even more.

This is a huge distinction, in my opinion.  When MIL cries, it's to get comfort -- nothing wrong with that in and of itself -- and start a huge, thorough discussion of how moving her situation is.

Again, I'm not sure that this is so much a case of "crocodile tears" as someone who has a pre-Copernican worldview.

Hehe love this

I had this happen often with a former friend who used tears to manipulate.  What I learned to do is to leave the situation.  If we were on the phone and she started crying, I simply said "you seem very upset, I'm going to go now and you can give me a call later when you are feeling more calm"  Funny enough, the tears would stop and we would continue chatting.  When she did it in person, I said "I'm sorry you are upset,  I'll leave and give you a call later so we can talk" and then I would make to pick up my purse and leave.  Again the tears would stop and life would go on. 

I think the best thing to do is to leave the situation.  For someone who can't help it, it gives them time to get themselves together so they are able to talk without crying. And for someone who is manipulating you, you've deprived them of an audience which they can't stand
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on February 15, 2013, 12:33:42 PM
At the DMV, we will occasionally get a customer who sobs when we say No.  Sometimes out of sheer frustration, and I understand.  But there are some who are trying to manipulate the situation.

Another manager has a brilliant way of addressing the crocodiles (and you can tell when no water comes forth, and they keep peeking at you through their fingers).  "I am so sorry you are so upset.  In fact, I am concerned that you should not be driving like this.  It would be dangerous for you to drive in this distraught condition." She goes on for a bit on how it is her moral duty to prevent the customer from driving, and without fail, the tears stop immediately when they realize that she is suggesting calling police to take them home "for their own good."
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Auntie Mame on February 15, 2013, 01:21:20 PM
My mother uses tears so she doesn't have to take responsibility for her actions.  she'll start sobbing about horrible she is, how much you hate her, etc..  Then you are supposed to suddenly stop being angry and comfort HER about her mistake.  It doesn't work on me anymore.

The only time tears make cold and angry is situations like that.  When people behave very badly, you call them on it, and they cry to get sympathy.  Nope, doesn't erase what you did, doesn't fix the situation, just makes me lose every last bit of respect I may have had for you.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: m2kbug on February 15, 2013, 01:33:28 PM
I tend to cry when I'm upset or stressed.  I'm not crying as a sympathy ploy, I just can't really control it.  It can be embarrassing.  Sometimes I can control it, but other times it just pops out.  Because of this, when someone cries, I don't leap to the conclusion that it's some sort of manipulation tactic.  I generally just talk to them as if they weren't crying.  Someone who is highly emotional might need a little bit more hand holding and direction.  I have known people who cry at the drop of a hat.  You lose sympathy for the tears really quickly.  What's wrong this time, accidentally bought 2%?  You can generally tell if they're being manipulative.  Whether or not there is a manipulation tactic, at least in a place of business, rules are rules, there's not a whole lot you can do, though you may spend more time walking them through the process or reassuring them, tears aren't going to change anything. 

My sister has been employing PastryGoddess' suggestion when one of the family members gets on one of her angry rants, something that I need to employ, not just to put a quick stop to that person's angry rant, but to not allow myself to get sucked into it and start my own angry rant and then we're fighting.   :-[  To end to conversation or give them time to regroup (even if pretending to be sympathetic but you know they're manipulating) is probably the best method. 
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: JoyinVirginia on February 15, 2013, 01:56:29 PM
My mother uses tears so she doesn't have to take responsibility for her actions.  she'll start sobbing about horrible she is, how much you hate her, etc..  Then you are supposed to suddenly stop being angry and comfort HER about her mistake.  It doesn't work on me anymore.

The only time tears make cold and angry is situations like that.  When people behave very badly, you call them on it, and they cry to get sympathy.  Nope, doesn't erase what you did, doesn't fix the situation, just makes me lose every last bit of respect I may have had for you.

Do we have the same mom? This tactic used to work on me, she used it one too many times and them I found myself not responding even when she was legitimately upset.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Library Dragon on February 15, 2013, 02:13:59 PM
POD Red Rose!

As one of the world's easiest criers I get so frustrated at my inability to not cry.  My staff and I joke about it.  "Don't show LD that Clydesdale video, she'll start crying." 

On the other hand, walking away from manipulators robs them of their power over you.  'Yes, it's horrible that both your parents died for the 3rd time last month, but the your dog chewed up four brand new books and you will need to pay for them.  I'll give you a moment to compose yourself and when you're ready to discuss the payment plan I will be over here.'   
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Sharnita on February 15, 2013, 04:09:05 PM
As someone who often bursts into tears when angry (and believe me, I wish I had control over it), I don't think that responding coldly is helpful.  The emotions are genuine, even if it may seem silly that I'm crying. I don't, however, feign tears to get my way, and have no patience with that sort of behavior.  The trick is differentiating between the two.

I'm not sure why genuine tears of anger would mean (general)you are entitled to a praticularly warm response.  If somebody yelled at me in anger or gave me the silent treatment in anger they would get a pretty chilly response so angry tears seem deserving of a like response.  If it is something you can't control, that certainly isn't on me.  I think walking away is fine.  Maybe "I'll give you your privacy" or "we'll talk later"
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Lynn2000 on February 15, 2013, 04:10:44 PM
My former co-worker Emma is a very emotional person; I think I've mentioned her on here before. Her life is also a mess, in large part due to her own actions, and at one point she was additionally stressed out by a large presentation/report she had coming up. I was assigned to help her with it and I can't tell you the number of times she started crying at work and went on about all the stressful things that were happening in her life at the same time. I think the first time or two I was sympathetic, and after that I just sat there quietly and waited for her to calm down, literally thinking about my grocery list or something, and then went back to what we were doing with no comment.

I think her emotions were genuine and not an attempt to manipulate me or gain sympathy. But frankly I was tired of it and found it unprofessional (it was happening several times a week), and like I said so many of her problems were caused by her own choices. Not to be all armchair psychologist; but looking at her track record of always choosing the worst possible option in any situation, you had to wonder if she was subconsciously trying to fail. At life. Plus she had no coping mechanisms, other than crying in inappropriate times and places.

There are times when tears are genuine and appropriate--obviously--and I'm sympathetic to those. If I knew the person well and I knew their tears were warranted and that they would appreciate being comforted, I would do that. Personally, I hate hate hate crying in front of someone myself, it's absolutely the last resort for me. Someone making a big deal out of nothing, or trying to manipulate me, or someone that I don't know very well going the "tears" route with me--big red flags. I would just sit there and wait for them to stop, or get up and leave if necessary, and I wouldn't care what anyone else in the restaurant (etc.) thought. Why would I? They're all total strangers, right?
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: bansidhe on February 15, 2013, 05:32:31 PM
I'm just popping in to say that this thread has been very educational to me. I cry when someone dies and that's about it. (Well, OK...I might get a bit teary when I see little kittens sometimes.) When I encounter people who cry a lot, I immediately suspect them of being manipulative and faking the whole thing. It's good to know that that is not always the case at all.

Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: delabela on February 15, 2013, 08:08:38 PM
I sometimes angry-cry, and I sometimes happy-cry without being able to predict.  I have a dear friend who cries easily but certainly not manipulatively, and I acknowledge it and we continue whatever we are doing/talking about.

For the manipulative criers (and I deal with more than average), I kind of pretend it's not happened and go on.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: CrochetFanatic on February 15, 2013, 08:37:35 PM
I think the last time I cried to manipulate someone, my age was in the early single digits.  ::) Didn't work, either.  But I wish I could say that I haven't been accused of it.  I'm another person who cries out of anger or frustration.  Not out-and-out sobbing, but it just comes out.  The person I'm talking to is uncomfortable, I'm embarrassed, and I just ask for a few minutes to compose myself.  Outside of family, this situation rarely happens at all.

There are a few sure-fire triggers that get me going.  Being called something nasty, being slapped (hasn't happened in a long time, and won't happen again if I have anything to say about it, and I do), and getting yelled at are the three biggest ones.  If someone is roaring in my face so that I can feel the sound waves inside my head, it has the same effect as a good slap would.  I actively try not to cry, and it makes it so much worse when I can't keep it in and the person keeps following me to continue the "conversation", aka make fun of my "weakness".  One of the handfuls of times I've been in a blind rage was when someone insulted me to the point of tears and then mocked me by imitating the sounds I couldn't help making.  It didn't get physical, but I honestly don't remember much after seeing red.  He never mocked me again, though.

I don't cry to manipulate.  I prefer to just be left alone until it passes, and I apologize afterwards for the awkwardness.  People who employ actual crocodile tears to get their way in the supermarket or to swindle money out of relatives because they're "starving" or "won't make rent", then end up spending the money on, say, a new flatscreen TV (I've witnessed the former, but not the latter; that was a story I got from a co-worker who was complaining about a mooching relative) do not have my respect. 
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: CakeEater on February 16, 2013, 06:12:00 AM
I'm another easy crier who wishes she wasn't. I don't look or act like a crier either, so people are sometimes pretty shocked when I let go. I'm most likely to cry when I'm frustrated over something or having a conflict of some sort. I've cried at work a couple of times over things, and I would really love people to completely ignore me for a while. Sympathy makes me much worse.

I would hate for people to think I was trying to manipulate them. I'm really not.

I also cry like a crazy thing when watching sad movies, Tv shows, advertisements...
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Sharnita on February 16, 2013, 09:11:05 AM
You know, the thing about tears/crying is that whether the "crier" intends to manipulate or not, the very presence of tears can introduce a lot of pressure and societal expectaions about what others should do, who is the good/bad guy, etc. I really do understand that for a lot of people the crying is not voluntary but unfortunately there are still negative consequences for whomever/whatever "made" them cry.  That is understandably frustrating for the non-crier who is at a disadvantage.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: SPuck on February 16, 2013, 10:11:17 AM
You know, the thing about tears/crying is that whether the "crier" intends to manipulate or not, the very presence of tears can introduce a lot of pressure and societal expectaions about what others should do, who is the good/bad guy, etc. I really do understand that for a lot of people the crying is not voluntary but unfortunately there are still negative consequences for whomever/whatever "made" them cry.  That is understandably frustrating for the non-crier who is at a disadvantage.

Actually those were the words I was looking for.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: ladyknight1 on February 16, 2013, 11:08:08 AM
I seem to have received an extra-large dose of empathy. It makes me more susceptible to tears when someone I care about is going through a tragedy or difficult time. I can usually stop the tears when around others before they fall.

At home, though, I tear up at movies, after reading particularly sad books, some stupid commercials. I don't enjoy it, but I am happy with who I am and I don't feel the need to change it either.

I do work with the public and have witnessed a few manipulative crying sessions, which I hate.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Allyson on February 16, 2013, 11:32:22 AM
You know, the thing about tears/crying is that whether the "crier" intends to manipulate or not, the very presence of tears can introduce a lot of pressure and societal expectaions about what others should do, who is the good/bad guy, etc. I really do understand that for a lot of people the crying is not voluntary but unfortunately there are still negative consequences for whomever/whatever "made" them cry.  That is understandably frustrating for the non-crier who is at a disadvantage.

I agree. It's very hard to know what to do, especially if the crying happens during a fraught situation. I feel like an absolute ogre if I just carry on as though they weren't crying. But, say it's a situation where I'm having genuine conflict with a friend and we're talking it through. She starts crying. I suddenly am in a position where I have to either ignore her tears utterly, or respond to them in some way which often involves me making concessions I don't want to make. Also, if I don't feel like I've done anything to apologise for, my mind isn't suddenly going to change because the person is crying. (Of course I will apologise if I have done something wrong.)

I have a bit of a phobia of tears and what I really want to do is run screaming from the room. :D It's not that I think people are doing it to be manipulative--I absolutely understand the 'overwhelmed, upset' response that leads to tears. But as the other party, it's still hard to figure out how to respond to that.

The feeling at a disadvantage thing is very real..it's as though since I'm the one not crying, I'm perceived to be less upset, even though I might be just as upset, just showing it internally instead.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: CakeEater on February 16, 2013, 03:24:40 PM
You know, the thing about tears/crying is that whether the "crier" intends to manipulate or not, the very presence of tears can introduce a lot of pressure and societal expectaions about what others should do, who is the good/bad guy, etc. I really do understand that for a lot of people the crying is not voluntary but unfortunately there are still negative consequences for whomever/whatever "made" them cry.  That is understandably frustrating for the non-crier who is at a disadvantage.

I agree. It's very hard to know what to do, especially if the crying happens during a fraught situation. I feel like an absolute ogre if I just carry on as though they weren't crying. But, say it's a situation where I'm having genuine conflict with a friend and we're talking it through. She starts crying. I suddenly am in a position where I have to either ignore her tears utterly, or respond to them in some way which often involves me making concessions I don't want to make. Also, if I don't feel like I've done anything to apologise for, my mind isn't suddenly going to change because the person is crying. (Of course I will apologise if I have done something wrong.)

I have a bit of a phobia of tears and what I really want to do is run screaming from the room. :D It's not that I think people are doing it to be manipulative--I absolutely understand the 'overwhelmed, upset' response that leads to tears. But as the other party, it's still hard to figure out how to respond to that.

The feeling at a disadvantage thing is very real..it's as though since I'm the one not crying, I'm perceived to be less upset, even though I might be just as upset, just showing it internally instead.

As one of the involuntary criers, can I just say that I completely understand both of your positions. I truly wish that I wasn't a crier. It's very embarrassing for a 34-year-old to be unable to keep arguing because my voice is cracking or I have tears coming through. And I have the opposite problem - the crying makes me seem devastated, when I'm just really very frustrated or feeling insulted, and I get all this sympathy which derails the actual discussion of the problem and makes me seem irrational.

Even though you might feel like an ogre, if you were arguing with me, I would truly wish you to ignore the tears and keep talking. I want to ignore the tears. I want them to go away, and acting like I'm not crying is the best way to stop.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: weeblewobble on February 16, 2013, 03:52:48 PM
The only people who see me cry are my mother and husband.  And I don't do that often.   I don't function well when people cry frequently around me.  I feel like I'm being emotionally manipulated.  I have gotten to the point with certain relatives and friends that when they begin to cry during a confrontation, I say something along the lines of "I'll excuse myself until you're composed enough to talk again."
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: PastryGoddess on February 16, 2013, 05:07:01 PM
You know, the thing about tears/crying is that whether the "crier" intends to manipulate or not, the very presence of tears can introduce a lot of pressure and societal expectaions about what others should do, who is the good/bad guy, etc. I really do understand that for a lot of people the crying is not voluntary but unfortunately there are still negative consequences for whomever/whatever "made" them cry.  That is understandably frustrating for the non-crier who is at a disadvantage.

I agree. It's very hard to know what to do, especially if the crying happens during a fraught situation. I feel like an absolute ogre if I just carry on as though they weren't crying. But, say it's a situation where I'm having genuine conflict with a friend and we're talking it through. She starts crying. I suddenly am in a position where I have to either ignore her tears utterly, or respond to them in some way which often involves me making concessions I don't want to make. Also, if I don't feel like I've done anything to apologise for, my mind isn't suddenly going to change because the person is crying. (Of course I will apologise if I have done something wrong.)

I have a bit of a phobia of tears and what I really want to do is run screaming from the room. :D It's not that I think people are doing it to be manipulative--I absolutely understand the 'overwhelmed, upset' response that leads to tears. But as the other party, it's still hard to figure out how to respond to that.

The feeling at a disadvantage thing is very real..it's as though since I'm the one not crying, I'm perceived to be less upset, even though I might be just as upset, just showing it internally instead.

One of the reasons I leave the situation when someone starts crying is because I don't want to concede on a point just to be nice or to get them to stop crying.  I'd rather leave things were they stood at that point and come back to it when both of us are more calm. 

With an involuntary crier, I've found that we can talk about what makes them cry and what they would prefer me to do if it happens again.  So even if someone can't help crying at a certain situation, we can still move forward and work it out.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: DragonKitty on February 16, 2013, 06:38:32 PM
I'm also an involuntary crier, and I really hate it, and try to head it off as best I can.

But I don't have any suggestions on what to do when faced with crying.  It makes me uncomfortable so I'm not sure what to do if I think they are sincerely crying.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Take2 on February 16, 2013, 10:34:10 PM
I am an involuntary crier also, and I hate it. I feel horrible when it happens, because it isn't fair to put someone else in the position of having to address or deal with my tears, especially when they come at times when I on't feel I am upset enough to warrant tears. I know that the reason I cry easily is because of abuse and manipulation I experienced as a child, but I certainly don't want to explain that to a hapless person who has been subjected to my unexpected over-reaction. I feel like I look manipulative, but I can't stop. Running from the room looks even worse. Overt sympathy from anyone will make it worse. A moment alone to regroup and get control WITHOUT a judgey response is the kindest gift I can receive in such a case.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Softly Spoken on February 17, 2013, 02:28:02 AM
I am a very empathetic, emotional person with absolutely no neutral or "poker face" whatsoever.

That being said, I have not cried in an "inappropriate" situation except once. I was very embarrassed, and I felt bad for the store employee who had to deal with me. :-[ She was very nice. I didn't expect special treatment - I was mostly crying in frustration because there was nothing anyone could do to remedy the problem that was causing so me so much stress (and costing me so much money I couldn't afford to spend).

I understand that crying puts the other person on the spot, but I think they can show kindness without having to capitulate if they feel they are being emotionally manipulated. I think it depends on the situation, and who they are dealing with.

I think remaining calm when someone cries is a good thing - it's kind of all you can do and it doesn't make you a cold person. The practice if ignoring someone's outburst is a little trickier - if you aren't sure how to handle it maybe it's best to ask the person crying what they would like: "Should we take a break? / Do you want to talk about this later?" Of course that doesn't apply as easily to tears that appear during arguments.  :( Then it is your prerogative to say something like "I will talk to you about this when you have had a chance to calm down."

Being sympathetic to someone's pain/frustration, even if it is 'faked', is not the same as agreeing with them. Like if someone is crying because you won't give them what you want you can say "I'm sorry you find this so upsetting" - but you still don't have to give it to them! As PPs have pointed out, crocodiles whose bluffs are called turn off the waterworks soon enough.
Title: Re: Crocodile Tears
Post by: Pen^2 on February 17, 2013, 06:02:59 AM
I agree with Softly Spoken.

There are generally people who cry because they can't help it, and people who do it on purpose as part of their personal pity party. It can be hard to tell them apart. But luckily that doesn't matter in how you can deal with them.

Be empathetic and console them if possible, but do not recant or change your mind about the thing that made them cry. They are an adult and can deal with it. If you tell someone that you don't need their help and they burst into tears, focus on making them feel better, but do not change your mind. Focus on the fact that you don't like seeing them upset, not what made them upset. No matter what the reason, a person cannot deal with things well while crying. Help them feel better first before proceeding. Do not fall into the trap of discussing things with an upset or even hysterical person. It will not end well. Be a broken record with "we'd better talk about this when you're feeling better" or something similar and do not engage.

And, if you are busy, give them an opportunity to leave (so as not to embarrass themselves) while you continue what you were busy with. "Oh, I see you're upset. Why don't you get some fresh air outside to help feel better while I finish up here?" This also works for repeat offenders.

People who cry on purpose do so to make you feel/look bad. If you help calm them and are empathetic, you will not look bad. And as long as you do not confuse making them feel better with doing what they want, you will not be manipulated.

I had a student in year 9 who would literally burst into tears whenever he wanted something that was denied to him. It really surprised me the first time. I held him back after class to give him a detention for cheating in a test, and he started sobbing and crying! I did what I could to make him feel better, feeling very awkward, and as soon as he seemed to be calming down, he asked, "but do I still have to do the detention?" I responded with something like, "yes, since the fact that you cheated still stands." He immediately started crying again and I then knew for certain that it was a ruse. I made it perfectly clear that being upset about something does not absolve him of his actions after I had calmed him again.