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We are now releasing our podcast every Thursday, so we’ll be sharing these musings on how to be human-centric leaders on Tuesdays.
I’ve been pondering a lot about what it means to “be yourself” at work. After years of aging myself with clothes, makeup, and jewelry thinking that looking older would make me worthy of respect, no matter what I did, I just looked young.
That’s when I realized, it’s not about being your best self. It’s about being yourself at work
Bringing your whole self to work is essential to the leap into the Human-Centric Era, where empathy, kindness and compassion lead fully human leaders.
Authenticity is valued in the workplace more than ever before. In fact, many CEOs from leading companies around the globe have committed themselves to advance diversity and inclusion, encouraging employees to be their real selves at work.
According to the BBC, studies show when people feel comfortable expressing themselves at work, they are more productive and creative and also happier. This is not just fluff. Companies are winning awards, keeping their A-player talent and retaining their customers because of it.
“Being yourself” seems like an easy task, yet it remains a challenge to many people. Not everyone is comfortable being open about themselves at work, while some are just used to having a different persona at work altogether.
Being yourself at work is more than just speaking your mind and standing up for your principles. It’s not about sharing your deepest, darkest secrets at the workplace either. It’s about letting your guard down and being comfortable expressing yourself.
How do you know if you’re being yourself at work?
It’s important to remember that being authentic at work doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. You still need to be courteous and mindful of others. This is where empathy comes into play; step into other people’s shoes and treat them with respect.
If you feel the need to hide aspects of yourself, hide information about your life or change what you wear and how you talk to fit in, then you also might need to work on being more of yourself in the workplace.
Constantly worrying about how you present yourself at work will make you emotionally exhausted. It also keeps you from performing your best and from building genuine connections. Over time, concealing significant parts of who you are at work is not sustainable.
How can you be more of yourself in the workplace?
The pandemic forced many companies to implement a voluntary or mandatory work-from-home setup and check in with their teams in new ways. This new arrangement makes it easier to be yourself when working. You are naturally more comfortable at home and, for the most part, you can wear anything you want while working. Those who have trouble expressing their ideas face-to-face find it easier to communicate their ideas in a virtual setup.
Being yourself at work starts with self-awareness. A good understanding of who you are—your strengths, your weaknesses, what makes you tick and how others perceive you—will help you be more confident being yourself in any situation, including your workplace. Having high levels of self-awareness also fosters healthy relationships and human leadership.
To bring your true self to work, you should be willing to risk rejection. You cannot please everyone, and it definitely hurts more if someone rejects you for being who you are. But if you simply continue to put on a façade at work to please people and avoid criticism, you’ll end up losing your personality at work.
Benefits of being yourself at work
Vulnerability is essential. According to Mike Robbins, author of Bring Your Whole Self To Work, admitting you don’t know something, asking for help genuinely and acknowledging you’ve made a mistake are simple things you can do to be more authentic at work.
Vulnerability is not a weakness. A caring company culture that embraces failure is able to tap the potential of its people. When people aren’t afraid to be vulnerable at work, they can express their ideas more freely and do more. Vulnerability breeds innovation.
Bring your true self to work. Be comfortable in showing your talents, vulnerabilities, mistakes, and achievements in the workplace. You do not have to be like everyone else to be accepted and to perform well at work.
Authenticity helps other people feel safe and comfortable when expressing themselves, which develops and strengthens bonds. Being yourself at work will help you develop better connections with others. Doing so will work wonders not only in your career but in other aspects of your life too.
If you’re someone who wants to break out of the box, say goodbye to business as usual and usher in the human era—one where we will feel comfortable bringing our whole selves to work—I welcome you to join the UNprofessional community and follow me on IG @hilarycorna
Bringing your full self to work is just one of the many topics we tackle on the UNprofessional podcast, where we explore the boundaries of work, humanity and culture. New episode out today on Spotify and Apple podcasts.
In love and respect,