When I feel very self-conscious, my eyes start to get really watery to the point where it almost looks like I'm crying. It's kind of like when a person blushes -- but instead my face turning red, my eyes tear up!

It especially happens when I am speaking specifically about myself (for example, during a recent interview, when the interviewer asked "what's your passion", as I started to talk about it, my eyes started to water). It also happens when I give my deep down opinion about things. When it starts to happen, I have to look away or down at the table--and it comes across puzzling to the other person. It happens often during interviews...not the entire interview but as some point in time, it does happen. Once I get through it (it lasts for about 30 seconds), I seem to be able to regain my composure and it doesn't come back during that time.

I need help with this desparately or else I don't think I'll be able to effectively interview. Has anyone else had some kind of self-conscious anxiety where it physically manifests itself outward? How have you been able to cope with it? Any suggestions for a really good coach?

Solitaire's picture

I can't recommend a coach I'm afraid.

A few ideas though...

Could you take a handkerchief with you and dab at your eyes when this happens?

Could you practise saying a sentence such as "excuse me a moment, I have over-sensitive eyes", which sort of explains why your eyes are watering and allows you a moment to dab away the moisture and also help you regain some composure?

Also, I'd suggest practising saying the sorts of things that produce this reaction over and over to yourself, so that you minimise the emotional reaction to them. That could help.

Good luck.

tokyotony's picture

Thanks for the suggestion. I actually do do that sometimes. But only if I think it won't draw too much attention.

I was in an interview yesterday and I was talking about how I saved my current employer on costs and I could feel my eyes starting to water a bit but it stopped. It seems whenever I talk about myself and my unconscious feels its a form of "bragging", this happens. Rather annoying.

delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
Training Badge

I agree with Solitaire of carrying a tissue and dabbing eyes with a brief and neutral comment. 

My additional suggestion is to maintain good and natural eye contact and continue speaking or listening as is the case.  As you mentioned, it will pass. 

I sometimes blush or sweat and that is how I handle.  Just continue as normally as possible and engage in the topic with your audience.

Once last comment, you mentioned that you feel like you are bragging.  Have you considered that perhaps your choice of words may be bragging.  You may not be but you should always review how you present your accomplishments to ensure they are professional.  Perhaps approaching accomplishments this way you will not feel as though bragging and the issue will be reduced.

Best of luck!

Doris_O's picture

Try looking up, not down. I read once that if you roll your eyes up towards the ceiling the motion will close your tear ducts slightly reducing tearing. 

tokyotony's picture

I did experience some tearing during a meeting (not work) and remembered your advice to look up. It definitely helps. The only challenge is that the other people seem to be wondering what I'm looking at (i.e. I'm not keeping eye contact and looking up seems to be more "conspicuous" than looking down when talking, I guess). Also, I tend to loose concentration a bit...perhaps that's why it works.

I'll continue to practice this to make it more natural. I did study NLP which talks about eye-accessing queues and I should have thought about this!

muse's picture

Being a Rosacea sufferer, I can empathise with you. I am a blusher when I talk to people but I am also very red in the face during flare ups. My advice is to try not to worry about what other people are thinking (I know it's difficult) and I would do as others say and try to carry out naturally. Most of the time, they probably do not even notice and if they do notice, they should be concentrating on what you are saying anyway. The most important advice I can give is to keep your self confidence up. 

andrewjohn1317's picture

I have over an sensitive eyes" which sort of explains why your eyes are watering and allows you a moment to dab away the moisture and also help you regain some composure and remembered your advice to look up. It helps

jla9z's picture

Especially during this time of year, you might be able to get away with saying you have allergies.  Finish your answer, dab at your eyes, and smile saying, this time of year my allergies tend flare up a bit.   

DRD282's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I'd strongly recommend you look in to Toastmasters. They are an international organization with the specific mission of helping people to speak effectively in public and/or demanding situations. They have a lot of great tools and meet regularly. I've been to one or two meetings and it's all about giving people the chance to speak often, get feedback, and practice a LOT. 

Check them out. Here's the main site but they have local chapters all over.

mrreliable's picture

My suggestion is similar to Toastmasters. Role play. Get some friends or family members to play the role of interviewer. Believe it or not, it can be more stressful role playing than going through the actual process. The more you can practice, the more confident you'll be in the real situation.

I wouldn't suggest making things up to explain why your eyes might be watering. I'd recommend being honest. "When I get into a stressful or awkward situation, sometimes my eyes water. Don't worry, I'm not crying." Joke around about it a little. Being honest you'll come across as sincered. If you make something up to try to cover it over, you risk having the interviewer think, "I wonder what the real problem is."

Desiretosucceed's picture

My eyes water all the time - I make a joke of it and say, really I am not crying it is allergies. I think making a statement that - my allergies are bad today would be the route I would take.

somehowimanage14's picture

I have this exact same problem. whenever i speak "from the heart" my eyes immediately start watering especially in 1:1 situations.  i tried the looking up trick but you're right that it can be distracting. I don't want to dry attention to it and hoping to find something that could be used to prevent it vs treating it.  have you found any remedies that work? 

rspake's picture

Wow. It's so nice to know that other people have this problem. Yes, it happens when I am saying something "from the heart" or about myself to people whose judgement I care about. Or whenever I feel like I'm making a connection with somebody new whose opinion matters to me. This was one of the things that kept me from being able to become a one-on-one counselor. There was just no hiding it! Now I teach English online to mostly children and I'm fine with that. But recently I've started teaching teenagers and adults, and the tearing problem is back again. By the way, once I've actually gotten to know the people I initially teared up around (mostly colleagues at a new job), I no longer tear up.

SameSamebutDifferent's picture

Oh my god, I'm so grateful to finally come accross other people with the same problem. I'm 33 yo and no one I came accross until now could really understand. I don't think I'm particulary stress or anything. It used to happen to me even from a very young age when I was creating stories speaking by myself when playing with my barbies for example... 
It always happens when I give people review or when I'm mentoring others. Saying something "from the heart" really reasonates with me too. 
It's hard to explain, it's like when I play a role when I feel that I'm in position of 'strength', sharing something special where the person look up to me and what I'm saying with an active listening. 
My technique is to say that it's allergies, I can now predict situations when it will happen so I take tissues with me and I already mention it before it happens (as my 'crying' can gets pretty obvious). When I'm on a video call (pretty common these days) I just briefly switch off my camera dab my eyes and put it back on pretending it's an internet bug.
I had a colleague that I was managing for 4 years that just knew and we used to joke about it. 
It's annoying but I just embrace it. I'm joking about it and use it as an ice breaker when people clearly spot that I start crying out of nowhere!
Anyway it feels REALLY REALLY good to just not feel alone in this case and I would love to one day be able to share with you the miraculous solution...  Maybe before the interview you could try to free up your sinuses? I've also been told that potentially I was forgetting to blink in these moments which could what is making my eyes cry so I try sometimes to blink more (potentially also weird LOL).

'By the way, once I've actually gotten to know the people I initially teared up around (mostly colleagues at a new job), I no longer tear up.'
As opposed to you rspake, this doesn't seem to go away for me overtime with colleagues. 

Good luck and carry tissues around X

professionalwithfeelings's picture

Hi all - thank you so much for sharing you own stories.  I have this same problem and have not been able to find any other anecdotes or solutions online.  This has been ongoing for the last 10 or so years (at least), and has been a part of my adult life (34 y/o F).

The above resonates very closely to me - speaking from the heart, speaking from a position of 'power' or mentoring, speaking when I'm knowledgeable on a matter / topic and teaching others.  It definitely tends to happen 1-1 more than in groups.  

I have not tried the looking up suggestion, but will give it a go.  Something that has helped me in the past has been having gum or mints handy.  Something about having something in my mouth that I can control seems to help me regain control or prevent the redness / watering from happening altogether.  I'm not sure why, but hopefully it helps someone else in the future.  

Would love if there is a 'cure' or treatment we could use, but until then will have to rely on these home remedies (if we can even call it that).

Thank you!