Miss Manners

Student's Tears of Frustration May Be Motive to Change

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a graduate student working towards a Ph.D. in a scientific field. Graduate school is often very disheartening.

What should a girl say when, during a meeting with her adviser, she starts crying out of frustration over her project? I know that crying, especially at work, is a quick way to get labeled as a wuss, especially by male superiors. Unfortunately, I have always naturally expressed frustration this way, and sometimes, no matter what I do, I can't seem to prevent it.

GENTLE READER: Crying once or twice out of frustration can happen -- and a simple apology is all that is needed, accompanied by as little explanation as possible.

But if tears are your continual response to discontent in the professional world, your co-workers might have just cause in labeling you fragile, regardless of gender-based stereotypes. If you simply cannot contain your tears, Miss Manners suggests that you develop an allergy upon which to blame them. Or look into an alternate field.

The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives had the same problem, but, as many have remarked, the job gave him cause.

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