In this case, the stereotype is true: You’re more likely to encounter a crying woman than a weeping man. However, this isn’t because women are more emotional than men. It’s simply due to the fact that men and women process their emotions differently. Not only are men taught to keep their emotions to themselves since childhood, but research has shown that the parts of the brain that process emotions are actually hardwired differently in men and women. So, what can you do to comfort a woman who begins to cry in front of you?
Don’t Ignore Her
If a woman begins to cry in front of you, avoid the temptation to beat a hasty retreat out the nearest door. Instead, don’t be afraid to gently inquire about what’s going on. Natasha Devon, a relationship expert at The Telegraph, recommends two different routes to take, depending on who’s crying. If it’s a girlfriend or a friend, she suggests simply giving her a hug. If the crying woman is a co-worker, Natasha advises saying something like, “I’m sorry you are upset. Are you ok? Would you like me to give you some space for a while or would you like to talk about what is bothering you?”
Listen to Her
Once you’ve asked the woman if she’s all right, proceed to take action by listening to what she says. If she tells you she’s fine and asks you to please go away, then do so. If she wants to talk, then focus on listening and providing comfort. This can involve asking her questions, simply hearing her out, or even rubbing her shoulders (if appropriate). Don’t feel pressed to fix everything for her, although it’s fine to make a helpful suggestion if you have one.
Offer Her a Tissue
Being supportive doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to say the right words or fix the situation. Sometimes, a simple action of kindness, such as offering a crying woman a tissue or handkerchief, is all you need to do to be helpful. If you don’t feel like that’s enough, add a little joke, recommends Esquire magazine in the article “How to Console a Crying Woman.” They suggest handing the woman the tissue or handkerchief, and pointing out that it’s clean while doing so. Keep it light, and you’ll find that most women appreciate an effort at humor, even while they’re in tears.
Lighten the Mood
One way in which you can provide help and comfort is to simply lighten the mood, especially if the woman is a friend or a girlfriend. Most women will be ready to put their sob session behind them and move on once they’re done crying, say The Frisky writers Ami Angelowicz and Winona Dimeo-Ediger. And this is where you come in. Ami and Winona suggest pouring her a glass of wine, putting on her favorite movie, and just hanging out with her. All you have to do is focus on making her feel good, and before you know it, she’ll be smiling again, with you to thank for it.