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4 ways to bring your authentic self to work

Views about being authentic at work can split a room.

Whichever side of the fence you sit on, being more authentic at work undeniably creates freedom, a sense of ease and enables you to perform at your best. Not only that, a more true self at work helps you achieve more and get there faster. Hiding parts of yourself is exhausting, creates inner conflict and impacts your general well-being.

When you’re relaxed and able to act authentically, you operate more effectively. You’re not spending time second guessing how you should be. Instead, you’re focused on the task at hand. You are more creative, you problem solve faster, and access different perspectives.

You can also build more genuine relationships at work because you’re more comfortable with yourself, your views and behaviours. In situations where you’re being yourself, you exude confidence, you bring your personality and you feel in control. In these situations you don’t think about portraying confidence, it flows naturally. You enjoy these times and thrive in these scenarios.

Hiding parts of yourself is like acting a part. Constantly thinking about how you think you should be, or what you think you should say distracts you from acting intuitively and decisively.

Plus, it’s also not that fun or rewarding. When you’re wearing a mask at work, you feel awkward, you lack confidence, nerves take over and you question your ability. In these situations you become consumed by trying to ‘act’ confident. These situations tend to create tension and anxiety, and drain your energy. You start to dread them.

This is a reality for many - no matter how knowledgeable, experienced and skilled you are, there are still situations when you feel you have to ‘act’ a part.

‘An authentic self’ is a conscious choice

It takes practice and consistency to keep showing up in the way you choose. To get started, try these things:

  1. Work out who you are - Being authentic requires self-awareness - what do you stand for? What’s important to you? Who are you when no one else is around? This will inevitably evolve over time as you grow and learn more about yourself.

  2. Explore various situations at work - Begin to get curious. When are you being true? When do you hold back? What situations do you start to close down and retreat? What are the commonalities in these situations? There could be a theme in the type of situation, the people you’re with or the expectations of you.

  3. Build links - Identify the ways in which you want to be more authentic and take small steps to open up to trusted colleagues. Building connections in a safe way with people you trust will enable you to build confidence and realise that it is ok to be yourself. Over time you can take bigger strides in this area.

  4. Go deeper - We have all been in situations where we go along with the group to keep the peace, or fail to speak up in meetings in case we ask a ridiculous question. Understanding why we do this is great information when establishing your authentic self. Dig deeper and you are likely to uncover beliefs that may be holding you back from showing up as yourself. Get to the heart of those, and give yourself the chance to reframe them into more empowering beliefs.

Awareness is key to change. Intentionally exploring these four areas will help.

Being yourself at work is complex. Your relationships with others, the environment, the work culture, the level of work stress and stage of your career will inevitably impact how true you can be. Authenticity is a practice so be patient with yourself as you move along this journey.

Remember the rewards though. It is worth the practice.

How can coaching help? Coaching provides you with that 1-2-1 reflection time to help you build your self-awareness over who you are, what is important to you, your values and needs. Knowing yourself on this level will enable you to move out into the world more authentically, understand what makes you you and embracing your skills and strengths.

If you'd like to know more, get in touch.

Gemma Brown is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) accredited with the International Coach Federation (ICF). She works with individuals and teams thrive by helping them to elevate their authenticity, purpose and direction. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.

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