Can You Really Be Yourself At Work? If So, How?

Last updated by Lauren Hart

When I first started working, I didn’t really know how to behave. Should I be myself, or should I not reveal anything? After several years at university, where everything was informal between students, I admit that I was lost. Being yourself at work isn’t easy, as we’re often told to keep up a boundary between our professional and personal lives. So is it better to wear a mask or show yourself for who you really are? Here are some answers.

Can You Really Be Yourself At Work? If So, How?
Contents: 

Getting it all off your chest at work

Work occupies a considerable part of our lives. It is unavoidable as we have to earn enough to live 😬. We’ve never been told so much to love what we do. Today, work must be a factor of fulfillment where we wouldn’t have to force ourselves into a set role. Is that really so?

Sensitive information

Yes, but here’s the thing: the working world doesn’t want to deal with your emotions. You can’t just get it all off your chest, as you would with a friend or family, being 100% transparent about all aspects of your life 🤐. Especially as you may encounter toxic managers and coworkers who won’t hesitate to use the information you give about your private life to get you into trouble later. The professional world is so competitive that you need to learn to be wary until you know people more intimately 👀.

👉 I’m not saying that you can’t talk about yourself at work at all. Indeed, strong friendships can be made in the professional world. Some people have a friend or even a best friend at work! However, you need to know who to give certain information to.

Pressure from above

Expressing yourself about your life and your passions is a way of showing who you are and releasing pressure, but not all superiors like it. Indeed, if you work in a traditional company with a rather rigid vertical management, this won’t be viewed in a positive light. After all, for these kinds of superiors, you’re there to be productive, not to express yourself 😅.

Nevertheless, our job takes up a lot of our time, and wearing a mask can be stifling. This leads to awkward situations where our emotions end up overflowing, which can cause us to cry at work. So how can you express your personality if you can’t be spontaneous? How can you be yourself at work 🧐?

Applying reflective authenticity

It’s important to express our authenticity and personality at work, after all, we aren’t machines 🤖. However, it’s always tricky to strike a balance between being 100% ourselves as we are with our loved ones, and a colder, more distant personality wearing a mask. This is why the clinical psychologist Bruno Lefebvre talks about “reflective authenticity” where it’s necessary to:

  • Identify our emotions, especially negative ones,
  • Manage our emotions by taking a step back from the situation,
  • Analyze our environment to know whether we can express our emotions (and to whom).

This is a very different process from full disclosure, which prevents you from being too spontaneous (and perhaps embarrassing for your superiors) at work. This can be a complex exercise, especially if you are hypersensitive. However, it enables you to avoid reacting hastily, while at the same time allowing your true personality to shine through.

The two limits to watch out for

Even with these essential steps in mind, there are two limits to reflective authenticity at work, explains Bruno Lefevre.

👉 Don’t fall short

Your authenticity shouldn’t be a weakness to a colleague or the work group. Just because you want to show yourself as you are doesn’t mean that you have to cause harm around you. This is also the case even when you have a difficult colleague to deal with and your emotions are ready to explode. There are ways to gain respect at work naturally, and you shouldn’t hesitate to apply these techniques rather than becoming disrespectful and shouting horrible things at your colleague (yes, even if they deserve it 😅).

👉 Recognize your right to make mistakes

Lastly, whatever happens, you need to be kind to yourself and recognize your right to make mistakes. Did you end up losing it in the office? Well, it happened and there’s no point beating yourself up about it. It’s okay to make mistakes, the important thing is to acknowledge them and not to feel so guilty that you put yourself down. It’s better to face up to the situation and apologize, explaining what led you to behave in this way 🤔.

Being yourself at work is never easy, it requires continuous, sometimes delicate work. However, it’s better to exercise a measured self than to end up dropping the mask and exploding 🎭!

Editor’s note: It’s all about balance!

As always, there’s a balance to be found, you can’t play a role for 8 hours a day, but you can’t show too much either, at the risk of it being detrimental to you. The ideal is to have a job that fits your personality, creative jobs for the most creative, etc. What about you? Do you feel like you’re playing a role in the office? Do you feel like you’re saying too much, or are you perfectly comfortable? Tell us all about it in the comments! And if you feel bad, lost, or that you don’t fit in, don’t hesitate to contact a coach. Over the course of the sessions, they’ll make you aware of the resources within you and how to make the most of them.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!

#BornToBeMe

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Article presented by Lauren Hart

Writing is a beautiful means of expression that I cannot do without. It has allowed me to channel my hypersensitivity, plus I love writing about psychology and personal development. For me, self-understanding is the best way to move forward!

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