Is there anything worn under the kilt? No, it's all in perfect working order.

~ Spike Milligan ~

Should You Be Yourself At Work?

April 30th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 47 secs

Can you really be yourself at work?

Is work a place where you don’t need to be yourself?  That’s the subject behind the findings of a recent joint study by the Universities of Houston, Texas, and Greenwich, England. Their results suggest that, while being yourself with family and friends helps, being yourself at work won’t boost your fulfillment.

Using a sample of 313 London professionals and 240 students working part-time at the University of Houston, they described being “yourself” at work as:

  • Saying what you feel and think
  • Not making things up to impress, and
  • Feeling confident to speak freely.

What they found was that only a third described themselves as reliably truthful at work. Because participants felt they needed to repress their emotions and personal opinions, many believed they were hiding behind a constructed front. The researcher’s conclusion: overall, being yourself at work really doesn’t matter to your quality of life.

Personally, I wonder about the sampling for this study. With an average mean age of 26, and a lack of work diversity, it’s hardly a representative sample. Plus, the issue of what it means to “be yourself” and “quality of life” appear unclear.

From a happiness stance, being anything less than yourself can only compromise your satisfaction. Not that we need to kick back in home clothes and take an overly casual slant to the task at hand. Work demands certain skills, self-discipline, and a willingness to adopt a professional approach. To me, that’s more about being yourself with your work “hat” on, than pretending to be somebody phony or lying to suit.

Yet it’s true some workplaces don’t want you to be yourself. They only want your abilities, not your identity. If that’s so, then I strongly urge workers to move on to somewhere else if they possibly can. Why? Well, any workplace that fails to respect you as a person is subtly denying your humanity. In a perfect world it wouldn’t happen. But it does and, when times are tough, we’re more inclined to swallow the dishonor and put up with it.

Yet, when staff feel they have to fake their identity and be deceptive, something is terribly wrong. We all deserve to be treated with dignity. But regardless of whether we are or we aren’t, a well-lived life always speaks of who we decide to be.  We cannot allow others to compromise our sincerity, or blame them for our weaknesses of character. To choose to be yourself at your best is an impressively defining measure; a testament to your principles and personal respect.



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