Four Ways to be your “True Self” at Work (minus all the cussing)

Me in my early 20’s was a good example of how NOT to be your “true self” at work. Picture this: no makeup, pant suits only (pre-Hilary btw), high heels, low ponytail, glasses and a facial expression of “don’t f*ck with me!” I NEVER shared about my personal life and if I did it was very little. Why did I do this? I was insecure about my lack of years in my career, my knowledge, myself really.

Over the years I have made strides to be my “true self” at work. What is your “true self”? Think about how you act at home when you’re comfortable. How you act when you’re having a good time with family and who you are around your closest friends.

You’re probably thinking, “Why the heck should I act like myself at work? People will judge me.”

Number one the people that will judge you at work you don’t want around you anyway.

“LeiLani, but what about office politics?!”

Yeah…screw that stuff, too.

You shouldn’t hide who you truly are just because you’re at work. We spend SO MUCH time at work that it is ludacris to devalue ourselves and morph into a lesser version of who we really are. Being yourself creates a bond with other people. It creates trust. Trust is (Trump voice) HUUYYYGGGEEEEEE.

“Alright, LeiLani! I’m listening. How do I do this?”

Share More

I’m not talking about the typical Monday convo of what you did over the weekend. I mean sharing about yourself. Let’s start with something we are really passionate about…share about your family, your hobbies, your current Netflix obsession. Find commonalities with your coworkers when you share. “Hey…you got a teenager that eats a whole meal every hour?! Me, too!” <-I have said teenager. When we share with others and find common ground it creates a bond and can possibly be the beginnings of a great friendship. Some of the best relationships I’ve forged have come from work.

Help Others

One of my favorite questions is, “How can I help you?” We all want to be of assistance to others (or at least in my world I’d like to think we are helpful, kind people). One way to show others who you truly are is to offer assistance. You’ll gain allies in the world of work if you genuinely offer your helping hand to a fellow coworker in need and you’ll show your compassionate side of your “true self.”

Lunch Dates

I’m not talking about actual dating. We’ll talk about dating at work another time and for the record I’m not opposed. We should not be cooped up in our offices all day and please, please, please do not eat lunch at your desk. It’s so mentally unhealthy. Vow to get out of the office with your coworkers at least once per week. Next time you step out of the office pay attention to how you feel internally. You’ll get that sense that you can take a full deep breath and relax a bit. When you’re in this state you are more yourself and you can show others who you truly are…at lunch. So go eat lunch, not at your desk, with your coworkers and have some fun!

Be Vulnerable

This is a big one. Vulnerability is not easy but it also is the biggest winner of trust and compassion. If you’re having a bad day then say so. I’m not saying bring your problems to work by acting out. What I am saying is if you have a moment where you aren’t yourself and your acting uncharacteristically say so and say why. There have been times when I’ve snapped and then quickly apologized because I wasn’t feeling well (probably “hangry”). If you need help…ask for it. If you need grace…say so. If you’re wrong…admit it. All of these vulnerable states are so amazingly powerful and they make you a human…a human you can trust.

I have to admit I should share where I am at now with being my “true self.” I worry I’ll be judged for acting like my true self. I’m silly, outspoken, and I’m bold…but I remind myself that if people don’t like who I truly am then I don’t need them around me. That doesn’t mean I’m totally comfortable acting like 100% me but I too am working on it.

So cheers to us all embracing and sharing who we really are at work. We all are unique, awesome individuals who have so much to give…our coworkers deserve that we share all we truly are.

Oh btw…just one caveat to my “true self” suggestions…if you’re a cusser…maybe don’t cuss at work. 😉