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Crocodile Tears

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--- Quote from: Allyson on February 16, 2013, 11:32:22 AM ---
--- Quote from: 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.

--- End quote ---

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'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.

--- End quote ---

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.

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.

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.

Softly Spoken:
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.

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.


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