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Why It Shouldn't Matter if Condi Rice Cried on the Job

Who cares what Dick Cheney says? Pass the Kleenex.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney's memoir had some stinging words for his former colleagues, and Condoleezza Rice wasn't spared. She fired back in an exclusive interview with Reuters to make two points: She did not misled President Bush about nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, as Cheney claims, and she did not cry on the job.

It was a dick move if Cheney did lie when he said Rice "tearfully admitted" that the administration should not have apologized for Bush's mention of Iraq's alleged search for uranium. And Rice has every right to set the record straight. But even if she did shed a few tears, "crying" is another way of saying "weakness" here. And it's time we put that old cliché to rest.

Every woman has been warned not to cry in the workplace, for a whole host of reasons: It's too soft, too girly, too manipulative, too emotional. Kelly Cutrone wrote a whole book based on the premise. After Hillary Clinton choked up on the campaign trail, she was accused of trying to wheedle voters into liking her. Whether or not Rice really cried in Cheney's office that day, he likely included the detail to paint himself as tougher and more assured.

This is all ridiculous. Why do we still care about a few tears at work, especially when the stiff-upper-lip mantra doesn't apply to men as much as it used to? In a recent national survey, 77 percent of men and 90 percent of women now think it is socially acceptable to see men crying. It's long been accepted in other areas, from the football field to the altar. Why not at work? People may just have to get over this notion now that women are about half the workforce. (For whatever reason, women still cry a lot more.) There's something to be said for keeping a professional air in the workplace, but sometimes work can be emotional. We spend eight-plus hours a day doing it. We're not robots. (Yet.)

I'm a huge fan of crying; it relieves tension, clears your mind, and produces a kind of honesty stripped of formalities. It definitely disarms the person you're talking to. Some would call that manipulation; I'd call it real talk. So go ahead! Bring on the waterworks. I won't judge anyone who shows a little heart once in a while, and neither should you.

photo (cc) by Flickr user aithom2

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