When we talk about being our most authentic self, being true to who we really are it is rarely in the context of the workplace environment. At first glance it may seem like a dilemma you have never come across. It’s because it tends to be a subtler concept.

What is authenticity in the workplace?

The idea of “covering” your true self at work is a sociological concept from the 1960s. There are different ways we may cover ourselves at work – changing our appearance to “fit in”, downplaying our affiliations outside of work because we fear being judged or avoiding associating with certain colleagues as you don’t want to be grouped with them for one reason or another.

Now that you have a better idea of what it means to feel inauthentic at work – does this feel like something you have encountered? Either for yourself or perhaps a coworker? If we take the time to understand what situations we have felt the most inauthentic we may use that as an opportunity to find ways to “uncover” our true selves. Feeling safe and respected as an individual can have huge positive effects for work productivity. Feeling like you have the space and voice to be heard can help you contribute more to your team when problem solving. How can we create the change we need to achieve our full potential at work?

Change your perspective.

We may not be able to change the environment around us but we can change our perspectives. As each of us take small steps to live in our true selves we invite others to also do the same. For example, you can start a lunchtime group where you openly talk about challenges you face in the workplace whether it be finding the support for growth or not having the space to be able to be your true self. Invite management to these meetings – let them be a part of the casual conversation.

If it feels like you could never envision letting your true self be known at work the first question you might want to ask yourself is if the environment matches your true values? Is this a workplace you see yourself in the long term? Maybe there is a short-term goal you want to achieve or maybe it’s indicative of the career path you chose. It doesn’t mean change is needed but taking inventory of being in a place that takes up so much time in your life and feeling like you have to hide who you really are could have negative effects on your success as an employee and overall as a person.

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