You’re doing an internship and you make a huge mistake. Or you find out your dog dies. Or you suddenly remember that bit in Watership Down. Either way, something bad has happened and you can feel the prickling behind the eyes begin…so what the hell do you do?

Well, firstly, don’t beat yourself up. Especially not if you’re a woman because hey girl, you have six times more prolactin, known as the crying hormone, in your body than men. And smaller ducts too, causing tears to cascade down the cheeks rather than discreetly held in the eye area a la Men. But men do cry. Guys, you blub on average 1.4 times a month (in comparison to a woman’s 5.3) and if you’re interning/temping/waiting tables, you’re nearly always surrounded by colleagues, so the chances are you’re going to need this advice at some point:

Know thyself 

Everyone has trigger points. For some it’s making a mistake, or not getting something done on time, or even getting work criticised, but figure out what gets your waters working. Then, when it happens, you can take the necessary precautions. 

Take necessary precautions 

The moment you feel that warning prickle behind the eyeballs, make an excuse to get some water, or go to the toilets. The water excuse works better because the toilets is a classic place people go to cry. Sure, you may be bypassing the watercooler to cry in a cubicle, but everyone at the meeting doesn’t have to know that. Another good one is pretending you have an important call, but if you’re an intern, that’s sort of unlikely. 

Calm down 

Go outside, as fresh air and stressed looking people will make you feel a lot better than an enclosed space and a Kimberley Clark loo roll dispenser. If you can’t go outside then sit down with the loo lid down and go over what happened like the forensics team on a crime scene. Think about what it was that was said, why it was said, how it was said and how you reacted. Just this should control the flow a little. 

Get perspective

People get sad, and that’s not the end of the world. Walking into an office as a workie or an intern can be stressful, and crying is often a welcome release if done in private. If in front of your manager, then it can feel like the end of the world but it’s not. Read this. At least you didn’t nearly decapitate the company’s beloved dog. 

Move on, but with added poise 

Address the issue if something distressing was said or done, but sometimes it’s good to give things time to settle (have a look at our piece on difficult colleagues/working with psychopaths for more advice on how to deal with disagreements). Sometimes we get upset, we swallow it and we move on. Continue your day as normal, and don’t let it affect your confidence. If anything, use the rest of the day to prove how professional you really are when faced with something that makes you feel upset. 

You haven’t blown it

As previously mentioned, we all cry. Some of us more than others, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve no chance of the job you’re chasing. If you’ve followed our advice, and dealt with your emotion discreetly and professionally, there’s nothing to worry about. If your tears were spotted, a casual apology is a good idea, especially if it was a manager or a boss.