We’ve been hit by messaging for the past few years to BE OURSELVES. At this point, I think some folks got this down pat – they show up and are unapologetically themselves.
It’s what we should strive for right? Well…most of the time. What about at work?
I don’t know about you, but I have never fully been myself at work, and I think that’s ok. Too often, I think we are giving so much of US to everything we do – know what that leads to? Burnout, exhaustion, overwhelm, and more. You have to save something for yourself, and this is why I’ve been overjoyed with the amount of rejection of “the hustle” that’s been happening.
How do you balance your authentic self and the person you need to be at work? Read on for a few tips to get you started on your path to being authentic at work:
What do you want to share?
The first thing you need to do is determine what you want to share. Please note: this doesn’t mean that you should run and start sharing these things immediately! This is simply the FIRST step of figuring out how much of you to share.
Once you have those main ideas, think about this: your work is not your family. Yes, you can love the people you work with and truly enjoy spending time with them outside of work. Think about your family – most of us will excuse things they have done or said because they are family.
Do you want to excuse a colleague for saying something rude? Throwing you under the bus for not getting something done? Report you because they are upset with you?
Then remember that work isn’t your family, and look at that list again – if that makes you edit a bit, fantastic.
On the flip side, as much as some of us might want to never share anything about our lives at work – we probably should. Studies show that trust is built between people by sharing experiences and stories. It doesn’t have to be your life story – it’s ok to share weekend plans or exciting moments.
If you’re stuck, look at what other people share. Minus the folks that are obvious over-sharers and the ones that share nothing, and you’ll get a baseline understanding.
What are the questions and topics that you won’t touch at work? My husband and I don’t talk about marriage at either of our works by choice: people can get a little gossipy, and we want our marriage to be just that – ours. When people in my field start bashing a significant other or making comments about spending time with a spouse, I usually smile and nod to show empathy – but don’t offer anything on my side, even if we were in a moment of “UGH” (because we ALL get there!).
Now, this doesn’t mean that someone won’t directly ask you! You need to decide how much you want people to know. It’s YOUR choice, in the end, to share what you want to share – and not share things you’d rather not!
You’ve got what you want to share – and what you don’t want to share. You’ve established your boundaries. And now someone asks you a question you aren’t comfortable answering.
This is why your boundaries are important to establish before the moment! Think back to what you want to share at work – and if this is something you don’t, you have a few options. You can ignore it and change the subject – this one might feel awkward! You can say, “No thank you.” This might also feel a little weird! (Being direct always feels strange at first!) Or you can give a benign and basic answer – a smile, laugh, and move topics to follow – and move along. Most people will get the point!