All of me: why it’s good to bring your whole self to work

Do you bring you whole self to work?

Do you feel you can, or do parts of you stay at home waiting patiently for your return so you can shrug back into them and be yourself again, comfortable in your skin?

Are you an introvert outside of work, but an extrovert while you are there, or vice versa? How does that feel?

What does it actually mean, “bringing your whole self”?

If you have a supportive, inclusive culture at work, then you will feel comfortable just being “you” which means you probably show up and all of your character is with you, allowing people to connect and ‘know’ you.

Or you may work in an industry where you perceive that certain behaviour is expected of you, so you adopt certain communication and interaction styles that may be at odds with how you are at home. Having worked in construction industry for 25 years, I was someone that felt I had to be slightly aggressive and impersonal to make my way in a male dominated industry. Note that this was my perception of the industry, not necessarily how it was. It didn’t do me any favours but what it did do was create a work persona which was extroverted and had a reputation, not necessarily for the good stuff. It didn’t align with my values and didn’t allow people to know the real me, so it didn’t sit well with me.

It may have worked for the Baby Boomers to have a work self and a home self, but it isn’t working for the next generations. There is no work life balance any more, it’s a work life blend. The lines have irrevocably blurred and will only blur further. The latter generations want to feel a sense of belonging and connection but surely this is cross generational, who doesn’t want to feel connected and that they belong? That they are valued and seen and most importantly, can be themselves?

If we can show up as our authentic true selves, we can connect. Our passions outside of work become known inside, building trust and community. Knowing what your team did at the weekend, and with whom, discovering what is important to them and what they are passionate about will help them feel valued.

Research shows that people with purpose in their life are happier and more fulfilled. This also applies at team and organisation level, if you get to know what lights the fire of your team you will be able to co-create great experiences with them at work.

I used to think that it wasn’t productive to connect when now I feel it is probably the most productive thing we can be doing. Getting to know one another as people, creating social networks, building communities.

Ask yourself whether you are different at home than at work? Now ask yourself why….is it because your work environment doesn’t support you bringing your whole self to work?

Think of a job you really liked and why you liked it – was it the people?  Was it the fact you could be yourself and felt valued for just being you? Was it the culture, the way they did things? Consider what was good about it and whether you can recreate even one element of that in your present workplace.

If we can’t bring our whole self to work that then how can we make meaningful connections and start to enjoy the place where we spend so much of our waking life?

Being your authentic self at work allows you to be all of you, all the time, which can only be a good thing.