Don’t be ‘authentic’, but ‘be human’

by | Nov 28, 2022 | Change |

don't be authentic, be human

‘Bring your whole self to work.’

‘Be authentic.’

The list can go on. It is often the reaction to the view of keeping certain personal and professional boundaries resulting in an almost robitic environment. This was and is a drive to make workplaces more personable but there is a line. ‘My dog died this weekend’ is ok to mention in your weekly team meeting, but ‘I have an STD’ is likely not.

The intention is often to create space for people to ask for help, to leave some of their ego at the door, to say ‘I don’t know’. ‘Bring your whole self to work’ and ‘Be authentic’ too often are shame inducing. While leaders seek to make work environments better for their team is a good thing, let’s be careful what words we use. ‘I have no respect for you and I am actively looking for other employment’ may be authentic, but still unlikely to be a good idea to announce at your team meeting.

Or imagine going to a hospital for surgery and the surgeon greets you with ‘G’day, I wanted to stay in bed today, feeling a bit nervous about this operation as it’s my first time and I don’t like the team assigned to me.’ This may be authentic and bringing her whole self to work, but it is unlikely what you want to hear.

Being change makers is about being human, meeting people where they are at. And it is helpful to share emotions, including fears. It is about having integrity and being professional. Perhaps the error in the past has been thinking that you can’t be professional and personal. You can. It is essential in fact. But that doesn’t mean you need to share all your inner most thoughts.

Be human. Be yourself. And remember, most jobs are about providing a service to someone else (a customer, a client, a coworker), consider them in how you show up.

Photo by Denis Agati


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