“There have been moments in my career where I have felt that I couldn’t be myself at work. That I had to present myself as a different person to fit in and be successful. While this worked for a while and I was able to advance, it did end up making me feel self-conscious about my interactions with others. I started dreading going to work and felt like something was missing. In the end I realized that to be happy in my career I had to be to be true to my authentic self.” Have you ever felt like this?
There are many definitions of authenticity. One of them is the degree to which a person’s actions are congruent with his or her beliefs and desires, despite external pressures to conform.
On a professional level it will help you build trust with your clients and colleagues by staying true to your values and principles and showing them that you have integrity. On a personal level you will trust and respect yourself more, you’ll stay true to your beliefs, you won’t be afraid to decide what’s best for you, you’ll be more confident and experience less stress because you won’t worry about “what others will say or think of you”.
It can be challenging at first and is not a change that will happen overnight. It will be more of a long-term goal. The first step towards becoming more authentic is recognizing that you want it to happen. Secondly, you’ll need to find a balance between how much of yourself you can share at work while still being authentic to yourself.
It will take practice and will also depend on the culture of the organization where you’re working. Some workplaces can be more open to their employees expressing themselves while others might be less flexible. You must be comfortable with your choice of place of employment. If you find yourself starting to dread going to work because you can’t be yourself, it might be time to have an honest talk with yourself about what is holding you back and if it’s something you have the power to change. And then you decide.
Know your values, strengths and weaknesses and build your personal brand around them. Let your clients, team members, and management know what you stand for and how you can bring them the most value.
Just the same as you expect others to listen to you, you must practice being an authentic listener yourself. Be genuine in your desire to get to know the other person. It’s easier to express yourself and take action when you have all the information you need.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable by stepping outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and if you do, allow yourself to learn from them. Be open to receiving and providing feedback. While it can often be a difficult process, it will be easier if it comes from an authentic desire to grow and to help others grow as well.
In conclusion, authenticity will mean different things to different people. If you realize that you’re not being authentic at work and that you want to change, you must decide what it means to you and how you’ll go about getting there.