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The Single Most Important Reason to be Yourself at Work

It’s easy to censor yourself at work to protect your personal life and to keep your work relationships strictly professional. Unfortunately, with employees spending more than 40 hours a week of full-time work, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate life from work. In fact, the single most important reason to be yourself at work is to develop authentic professional relationships with your colleagues.

Why Should You Be Yourself At Work?

Employers not only promote the highest performing employees but when all things are equal, they increasingly promote employees with personalities they think will work well in the new role within the organization. Aside from license requirements, promotions are at the discretion of an organization’s leadership.

Turns out, in addition to doing a great job, being yourself at work — your authentic personality — is key to helping you succeed professionally.

When you can be yourself at work, you create relationships and build strong networks

Job security is increasingly uncertain, but your professional network is constant. It’s important to realize that your network is more than a list of names. Your professional network is a list of friendships and relationships that you’ve established and cultivated by being yourself and sharing bits and pieces of your (professionally acceptable) personal life with your colleagues.

How can you be yourself at work and remain professional?

When it comes to being yourself at work, many professionals struggle with how much to share. Consequently, the answer is different for everyone.

When choosing to be yourself at work, the most important part of being yourself is authenticity. Whether you’re sharing your concerns about a new project or you’re sharing your weekend plans, it’s important to be professional while simultaneously being true to your opinions and feelings. That’s your authenticity.

If you can be authentic in all of your dealings at work, it doesn’t matter how many (if any) personal life details you share. What matters is that your colleagues know you. They can trust that they know your true opinions, preferences, and struggles. Being authentic allows your colleagues to know you — even though they may not know the details of your political or religious beliefs — they know how you make decisions. Know when and why you become indecisive and understand not to talk to you until after your first cup of coffee. They know you.

People help those they can trust.

Given the precarious nature of employment, it’s important to establish actual relationships with your colleagues. At the end of the day, it’s not just important to have a list of contacts to call if you’re ever in a professional bind. It’s important to have friends who you can help and who you can trust will help you if you needed it.

Being yourself at work is the key

Being yourself requires you to be authentic and honest, with your colleagues. Being authentic doesn’t mean being mean, rude, or judgmental. Being authentic allows you to be yourself, to share your work-related — and perhaps some personal — struggles and successes.

When you allow people to know you, the real you, and not just the work version of your personality, you start down the path of relationship building.

And while you, of course, need to continue doing excellent work, being yourself at work also allows your colleagues to get to know, like, and trust you as a person and not just as a colleague.

Final Thoughts

Being anyone but yourself at work is a recipe for disaster. You don’t have to share your deepest secrets, but you do need to practice being authentic with the information you do choose to share. Be brave and share your struggles. Seek support and encouragement from colleagues. In turn, offer and share support with others; be likable.

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