I Cried During My Annual Review And Felt Humiliated — Until This Post Proved I’m Not the Only One

Performance Review


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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
June 24, 2024 at 4:22PM UTC
If you've cried during a performance review or worry that you might, you're not alone.
In fact, according to a survey conducted by Monster.com, among the 3,078 respondents, nearly 83% of people had cried at work. And nearly half of those who have cried at work (45.4%) said they'd cried because of a supervisor or a coworker. Some of those, most certainly, have happened during performance reviews.
FGB'er Tatiana took to the Fairygodboss community board to share a time that she, too, cried during a performance review
"I cried during my performance review a few years ago (and I'm not usually quick to cry) — please tell me I'm not the only one who's had that happen..." she wrote. "I was thinking back on my career last week (I just had a performance review) and remembered when I broke down in tears after receiving a GOOD review (because I had thought it was going to be terrible) a handful of years ago. It was so embarrassing for me, but my supervisor handled it well (at least in my opinion); he just pretended it wasn't happening, which helped me pull it together more than if he stopped everything to make it a thing. Have you ever cried during a review? How did you/your boss handle it?"
FGBers are commenting on Tatiana's post with their own experiences crying during performance reviews — plus sharing their tips for recovering  from  the waterworks. Here's what they have to say.

1. Be kind to yourself — you're only human.

"Oh man, I've had this happen, too — it was in my early 20s, and tears just leaked out of me," says Nina Semczuk. Luckily, my manager didn't make it a thing (I HATE crying, especially at work). Later on, I had someone I manage cry during her review and I just kept the conversation going (and handed her a tissue). I think these things get emotional/high stakes without our intention for it to be that way and emotional spillover happens!"
Others agree that this happens to the best of us.
"I think this is completely normal with the combination of nerves and anticipation," says an anonymous FGB'er. "Accepting feedback can feel uncomfortable whether it's positive or negative."
"It happens to the best of us; you work hard then management decides to give the raises to others," says Mary LaBarge. "This happened to me two years ago; I walked out of my review crying.  It's completely normal."
"I cried during a good review, as well, because the year had been so challenging and I felt like a failure," says Robyn_W. "My boss just reassured me that I had done a great job handling some tough situations. I think we need to be okay with showing emotion at work. I don't cry often in front of others, but I'm okay with it. We are human."

2. Remember that passion is positive.

"Oh I cried more than once," says Sofía Covarrubias. "And I fought hard to keep it together. Then I learned about myself than I am passionate about my work, my performance, my reputation and my career. So I lay that out on the table and say that this passion comes out with tears. I think people appreciate the heads up."
Passion is also honest.
"As a manger, team members would get emotional in performance reviews fairly regularly," says Stephanie Koehler. "It's a vulnerable time, laced with anxiety and the promise of more money. I love vulnerability, it is the well spring of honesty."

3. Consider having a follow-up conversation.

"This happened to me a while ago," says an anonymous FGB'er. "While I didn't full on cry, I had a performance review during a tough personal time where I thought I was performing pretty poorly. My boss had only good things to say, which shocked me to the point of (very brief, very small) tears. She didn't acknowledge the cry outright, but she did encourage me to give myself more credit. I think that really improved our relationship and built up some serious trust. I've also in my career received a poor review, where I didn't cry but definitely devolved a bit. My manager reacted pretty badly (she was upset I was taking it personally and that she had to deliver bad news) and things got tense, but she reached out afterwards to have a more calm conversation and it saved our relationship and my morale. I think a follow-up conversation where things can be talked through without the initial emotion is often a good move."

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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