Three Simple Steps to Bring in Your Personality to Work
Updated: Sep 14, 2018
I was advised by many people prior to starting my first job that I had to be professional, dress professionally, speak professionally, and act professionally at work every day.
Therefore, I decided to act “professional” in work. I became systematic in my approach to work, spoke in a monotone voice, and did my work tasks exactly as I was expected to do. By then, I created another work personality (The Professional Personality) which I used to dress every morning and bring along with me to work.
After few years of working in different multinational companies, I realized that I am living two different lives: One life which represents me and the other represents the expectation of people at work. It became stressful and confusing. I started noticing my conflicting behaviors and sometimes even conflicting values between work and personal life.
One day, I decided it is time to have ONE life. I made the decision to bring in my humorous personality to work. Surprisingly, people did not only accept it, but also encouraged me to maintain it. Waking up in the morning has become easy and my life improved to become consistent. How I behaved at work was exactly how I would behave outside work. I no longer had to put an effort in dressing and undressing my personal and professional masks.
Here are three simple steps to stop leaving your “True Self” back home before coming to work, and start bringing in your personality to work.
1. Create an intervention and decide to be yourself:
If you are currently not seeing the impact of having two personalities, you will one day. It could be that the two masks are working well for now, but you are not at peace with yourself. You are making an effort in blocking your authentic self from coming out. This consumed energy in controlling the words that come out of your mouth, or the actions you do, could be directed somewhere else.
What if just being yourself helps you get your tasks done better, or make your decisions quicker. How will you know, if you never decide to take off the mask! Intervene now and give it a try.
2. Make a list of items from your life speaking your identity:
Observe your life and look at your past history: your previous job, your family life, your academic life, etc... Then, make a list of items which most speaks your identity and your true self. It could be any activity or hobby which you enjoy doing.
In my case, my list included reading, travelling and writing comics.
3. Practice bringing in your identity to your work:
Out of the list you formed, pick the items or the skills behind those items and start practicing them and try mixing them up with work. You may be hesitant to do it. If you fear that it will negatively impact your career, or ruin your “professionalism”, do it with small steps.
Out of my list, travelling was surely not something I could practice at work! Next on the list was creating rage comics. Back in my university times, I had passion for making rage comics. I had a very successful facebook page creating visual rage comics and was even asked to post my comics on a startup company website.
Creating comics also appeared as NO fit for work. Well, only at the beginning. Guess what, it turned out to be a perfect fit!
I created the first comic and shared it over mail with one colleague about a real day-to-day business case, who forwarded to his other colleague, who forwarded to another. After two months of creating rage comics at least once a week, I developed the reputation of being a comic creator at work and I frankly tell you: People LOVED it. It made them laugh. It made them work closer as one team. If they laughed together, for sure they can work together. On top, I broke whatever ice left in my relationships with my colleagues, and all my work with my colleagues became EASIER and most importantly FUN.
What made it happen? It was not my love for humor, but rather my decision to show a new aspect of my personality that people never saw before. The rules changed at the office. Whoever creates comics is no longer unprofessional.
To All Fellow Passionate Professionals,
Start your small brave steps of bringing in your personality to work. Undress your “professional” mask and get your true self to surface to your colleagues. Don’t be afraid of the rules. The rules and the culture of office are set by the actions and personalities of people forming the culture, including yours.
You are great the way you are. Don’t leave your true self back home before coming to office. Instead, leave your masks!