- As a single working parent, how often do you share with your colleagues the challenges you face balancing time/ energy, when it comes to attending to your children’s lives?
- Having moved to a new country with a new job, how hard do you work to adapt your spoken English accent, to the culture/ norms of the country?
- Speaking to your ethnicity or sexual orientation, there is a certain way you like to dress that reflects your identity – braided hair, flair for color, tattoos. Do you choose to cover these up to fit in at work?
If you identify with any of the above questions, and your responses lean towards hiding information about your life, then, simply put, you are not being yourself at work or are being a pretender. What is the impact of it?
A team member from Mindtools, an e-learning company, says that, “The constraints of having to be too ‘corporate’ mean that you lose your personality, and are constantly thinking about how you present yourself, instead of having the freedom to express yourself. You’ll be constantly stressed that you’re not conforming to the way that the business wants you to talk, walk and act, losing focus on what matters.”
This means, being yourself has benefits that we aren’t able to notice readily:
- It’ll help you influence people better. Human beings aren’t mass-produced factory products. Our uniqueness is meant to be celebrated. For example, when Al Gore became the 45th Vice President of USA, he took on the role of the politician, donned the expected attire and took to podiums to debate policies alongside Bill Clinton. He was much criticized for this, and was called ‘wooden’, ‘inauthentic’.
Why? Because he was most loved as his passionate environmentalist self, with his wit, humor, and ability to inspire people. When he took the criticism in his stride and showed more of his own self, there were more takers for that relatable, passionate, real persona. What does this mean for you? Look at spaces/ situations where people respond to you best and where they don’t.
Even in a job interview study of two sets of applicants, the group that sent a video expressing how their genuine self fits the job well and what about them would make them a great hire, had 26% more chances of being hired. This, as opposed to the group that was catering to the interviewers’ need. Thus, the former group met its goal, while the latter was reported to be emotionally aloof.
- It’ll help you find more success at work. Said Denise Morisson, CEO of Campbell Soups, “There are going to be varied priorities and dimensions of your life; how you integrate them is how you find true happiness.” Now think about 2-3 aspects of who you are that are important to you and how they make you happy. Figure out how to bring them into your work, to whatever degree possible, because research studies show that happier employees are 12% more productive and 37% more satisfied with their work.
As human beings, we have unique identities. Instead of worrying about not fitting in or trying to fit into a mold, why not let a bit of that identity shine forth? It might be a bit unsettling in the beginning, but it frees you from the need to play a role constantly.