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by Abigail Van Buren

Parting Can Bring Sorrow to Those With Unruly Hair

DEAR ABBY: I recently presented a research proposal. I did the best I could and was verbally attacked by my boss. She is often tactless and can at times be cruel.

I tried to defend my research, but perhaps I did it too emphatically and went overboard, because my team member turned off my microphone and apologized to the boss.

I understand some of the criticisms, but what bothered me was that other proposals were more flawed than ours, but were not attacked in a similar fashion. One thing led to another, and I broke down in tears at the table. Luckily, the boss did not see it, but other team members did.

Is showing emotion in public wrong? I tried to hold it in but couldn't. I was insulted and felt terrible for my team. Was crying unprofessional? Should I have run to the powder room to sob -- or would that have made it worse?

-- TEARY-EYED IN MALAYSIA

DEAR TEARY-EYED: To show emotion in public is human, as long as one does not have a complete meltdown. You lost control twice, the first time when your team member felt it necessary to turn off your microphone and offer apologies to your boss; the second, when you began crying. Excusing yourself and going to the restroom would have been more appropriate and professional than what you did at the meeting. Learn from it.