Skip to main content

Be Yourself at Work Without Oversharing

Letting your true self shine starts internally

 Be Yourself at Work Without Oversharing


By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer

At work, there are two versions of you. One is the person you represent yourself to be: professional, dedicated, and “acceptable” to the people you work for. The other version is who you actually are.
If you’re lucky, the person you behave as in your job is very much like your authentic self. If not, this split personality will cause you stress and dissatisfaction. You could end up feeling like a discouraged impostor.
Can you actually be true to your personality and background at your employer? The answer is yes, though you’ll need to protect your boundaries by not oversharing.
The Authentic Employee
Here’s what it means to be authentic at work. You come in each day knowing that you don’t have to pretend to be someone you aren’t. Every moment isn’t a struggle to fit in and be judged worthy.
What a relief! You can have real conversations with colleagues. Friendships can form that are meaningful, even beyond the workplace. Your focus can turn to being more productive. Less time is spent trying to construct an image of yourself to please others.
What We Tend To Hide
There are pressures at work to conform to the norm. Sport a visible tattoo and you stand out. Wear a nose ring and reactions could be severe. That would be tough on a 20-something who defines herself as hip – and displays it with body art – yet loves to contribute as an employee.
Appearance is just one aspect of who we are. There are many parts of our core selves we tend to play down on the job. Older employees may try hard to act younger. Ethnic workers might take lessons to reduce their native accent. LGBTQ’s sometimes feel a need to be viewed as straight and prefer not to come out at work.
First, Be Comfortable With Yourself
Letting your true self shine starts internally. You can’t proudly strut your stuff without first knowing who you are and embracing it.
So who are you? Maybe you’re introverted, pretending to be super-outgoing. Or you have a hidden medical condition you mask by acting as if you’re superman. Now it’s jeopardizing your safety.
Ask yourself if it’s worth the strain of faking who you are. Your authentic self is desperate for you to acknowledge it. Accepting your limitations and being OK with your differences: these are basic signs of psychologically wellness.
Letting You Be You
Alright, you’ve decided to start being more real at work. Where to begin?
It can help to lead off in a manageable way. Pick an aspect or two of yourself you’d like others to know about. That in your spare time you sing in a choir. Or collect spoons from different countries. Possibly you’re active as a leader in your ethnic community.
Use your workspace to display hints of these activities. A photo here. A  splendid spoon or two there. The award you were given for community leadership. People will see these and some will ask you about them. Word may spread. Opportunities for conversations about your personal life will appear. Accordingly, the people you work with may reveal previously private details about themselves.
Maintaining Professional Boundaries
An important perspective about opening up: the workplace isn’t your living room or a bar. There are certain topics that may be off-limits.
Running around praising the political party you support is a no-no. Turning your cubicle into a shrine for your religion (or non-religiosity) gets frowned upon.
Oversharing could also be a problem. It’s one thing to reveal that you have a managed case of clinical depression. Talking about odd hobbies is fine as well, however your off-hour pursuits may raise one eyebrow too many.
Boasting about your criminal past isn’t recommended (unless it was long ago, and you share how you gradually turned things around). Telling hilarious stories about breaking the law at your last job…not such a great idea.
Delighting In Our Differences
We are all created equal yet different. Allowing those natural variances to show, and be celebrated, is what workplace diversity is all about. That’s the basic intent, anyway.
Trying to conceal your genuine self may be harming your career. It’s a form of sabotage against your own personality, background, work style and beliefs.
Reality does dictate a measure of modesty. Letting it all hang out at work can reveal far more than you intended.
Somewhere between suppressing your authenticity, or flaunting your eccentricity, is where your comfort zone should be. You’ll end up with a single version of yourself, one that satisfies both your personal and work needs.

Take The Monster Poll!

Back to top