How badly will being an easy crier, especially when being chastised, hurt me in the future?
It's impossible to tell how this will impact your specific career path but generally speaking, while this will reflect on you in some way, as long as you manage this well you shouldn't suffer over it professionally.1
So how do you manage it? Ultimately I'll always suggest getting professional help for a problem like this. Perhaps you are simply on the extreme end of the emotional curve, but in most cases where people have trouble dealing appropriately with constructive feedback or criticism there are ways to improve your reaction. Professional help or therapy should be considered, but anything beyond that is outside the scope of this site.
Now, even if you manage to get this under control over time, you still need to handle this when it happens at work. What it comes down to is this: receiving and processing feedback, even when it's highly critical of your performance, is an essential skill in the workplace. The problem with reaction overly emotionally to such feedback is twofold:
- it may cause your manager to think that you won't be able to process the feedback because you're distracted by your emotions or because you're not recognising feedback for what it is: suggestions on how to improve your peformance
- it may lead to your manager being hesitant to give you feedback
Both are problematic for a career so you need to handle both, to do so you need to:
Take the feedback to heart
Whether your reaction is simply a physical or whether there's also a surge of emotions that makes it harder for you to process what your manager is actually saying, you need to evaluate what was said when you've calmed down. Handling and responding to feedback is an entire subject of its own but in short:
- note the issues your manager identified
- critically reflect on how correct the feedback was or if you have concerns or explanations: it can be difficult to explain that your manager actually told you to drop Project X when you're stuck in a storm of emotions
- review what your manager suggested you do to improve
- reflect on what other things you can do to improve or prevent the problem from happening again
After that, you need to work on improving your performance and avoiding the problems that made it necessary for your manager to give you feedback. This is the single most important thing to do: your manager may think it strange that a stellar employee reacts so strongly to feedback but as long as you take that feedback to heart and use it to improve he'll love you as an employee.
There's no easy way to do this but it has to be done. You have non-standard behaviour that could reflect poorly on you and that means it's on you to explain and manage people's reactions. The key is to be matter-of-fact about it and don't make a big deal out of it. Your explanation should hit on the following: you reacted emotionally, it may happen again in the future, but you heard what your manager said and you'll do X, Y and Z to improve or to avoid the problem from happening again.
Either do this in person after you've gotten the feedback or over mail. Only do this in person if you know you can do so without misting up again as it may be counter-productive.
At this point I'm copying some suggested scripts that Alison Green over on Ask A Manager created. The articles where they come from are suggested reading as well. If this was a rare occurrence you could say:
Despite my reaction yesterday, I want you to know that I really appreciate your giving me that feedback, and it’s incredibly helpful to me to know where I should be focusing on improving. I’m a bit mortified that I got emotional about it, and hope that you’ll excuse it (and ideally wipe it from your mind forever!).
Source: should I apologize to my boss for crying in front of her?
Or, specifically if you know that this is a recurring issue for you:
Ugh, I have a weird reaction sometimes with criticism, but please know that it doesn’t indicate I don’t want to hear it — I actually love feedback and really value getting it. I’m working on getting the embarrassing visible reaction under control, but meanwhile I don’t want it to deter you from telling me where you think I could be doing better. I know how important that kind of feedback is to hear.
Source: I get embarrassingly emotional when criticized
1 - This applies to most, but not all, careers. If your job explicitly deals with handling or passing on feedback, such as PR or project management consulting, then you've got a much bigger problem.