How to be yourself at work
How often have you been told to ‘just be yourself’? Dozens of people have said that to us over the years. Going to a networking event? Just be yourself. Job interview? Just be yourself. Going on a date? Just be yourself. You’ve probably heard it dozens of times! The trouble is, it doesn’t always feel like good advice…
Why is ‘just you’ not good enough?
When you’re struggling with your self-confidence, when you’re wrestling with imposter syndrome and constant feelings of failure, when you feel burned out and out of balance, well...are you likely to feel good about ‘just being yourself’?
Sometimes the absolute last thing you want to just be is yourself!
Do you have a “work persona”?
When you get right down to it, ‘just being yourself’ is all about living authentically and being true to yourself. But that can be hard to do, particularly in professional environments.
Most of us have a ‘work persona’ (or we call it a mask), that we wear once we’re through the office doors. Exposing yourself to the people you work with can be scary, and there are so many reasons to hold back.
Maybe you want people to see you as smart, competent and on top of things. Nobody wants to be seen as somebody who will drop the ball on a project.
Maybe you’re trying to fit in with the crowd because you think it will help you get things done. (This is common if the culture around you is a bad fit.)
Maybe you’re even afraid that people just won’t like you. (This is common, too - more common than you think!)
These are just a few of the things that stop us from being ourselves at work, often despite ourselves. We know how important it is to show up and connect with others authentically but it can feel like an impossible goal. We can end up worrying about everything from superficial things like the clothes we wear and how we do our makeup, to deeper things like expressing our honest opinions and thoughts.
How can we speak up, ask for help, and be our genuine selves when we’re so afraid of being seen?
It all comes down to self-confidence
You might think you’re afraid to be yourself at work because you don’t trust your colleagues but in fact most of our reasons for holding back are down to a lack of self-confidence. We spend a lot of time worrying about what other people are thinking about us.
So this is a question we end up asking a lot of our clients...
“How do you know what people are thinking?!”
You are not psychic. You might think you can read their body language but trust us, you can’t - after all, ‘resting b***h face’ really is a thing! Somebody might look angry with you but they could just as easily be applauding you for standing up and expressing yourself!
You can never know what anybody else is thinking or feeling.
So why worry about it?
Why let that worry prevent you from showing up at work with authenticity and commitment?
And how is that worry damaging your career and harming your business?
The performance impact
There’s no doubt that repressing vital parts of ourselves has an negative impact on our work. It might appear as a lack of engagement and productivity, because we’re wasting too much time and effort trying to say and do the ‘right’ thing.
We can’t perform at our best, however much we might want to. And that in turn can cause us to spiral even further into negativity - and it becomes even harder to feel confident enough to be authentic.
When we feel safe and comfortable at work - comfortable enough to be who we really are - we’re more engaged, more productive, and more inspired!
We become a better teammate and a better friend. We bring our best to the table every day, and push our businesses and ourselves to new heights.
Remember that we are all carrying our own burdens
We’ve yet to meet a human being who is leading a truly flawless life. We all have our own burdens and vulnerabilities. The micromanaging boss you dread seeing, might be overwhelmed by caring for their elderly parents, struggling to find a bit of control in their life. The external supplier who struggles to hit deadlines, might be going through a tough divorce and trying to balance their career with childcare. And your larger-than-life colleague might be struggling with depression.
We’re all flawed human beings with responsibilities, doing the best we can.
And you never know just who around you is carrying impossible burdens… until you greet them openly, authentically, and build that relationship.
When you approach others with a kind heart and an open mind, when you accept others just as they are and let them see who you really are, you can achieve more than you ever dreamed!
Love and hugs,
Donna & Cheryl xx