Can You Be Yourself at Work?

Can You Be Yourself at Work?

Depending on the situation, we wear masks – masks to fit what’s going on around us. We may act differently with parents than with friends or associates. Or relate on a different level with your college roommate than with new workplace contacts.

Being yourself at work can be a gamble, but experts say presenting the real you at work, perhaps a toned-down variation, actually helps you with co-workers, clients, and contacts – and may actually get you promoted.

Why Be Yourself?

  • Have you ever told a lie to a co-worker? You always need to remember what you said and to whom you said it. The truth doesn’t require any memory aids.
  • When you pretend to be someone else, you waste tons of energy. It’s exhausting. Put that energy to better use.
  • People trust someone who is credible even if you’re not “perfect.” No one is. Be genuine and the people around you will trust what you say. They depend on what you say and do.
  • You’ll be happier at work. Or you’ll find out much quicker if it’s a bad fit. Your tenure at work may be short-lived. You won’t like your job as much if you can’t be yourself.
  • If you’re in an authority position, subordinates won’t follow someone they don’t trust.
  • You’re much more effective and productive when you’re honest at work. Your energy is focused on the job, not on pretending to be someone else.
  • Connecting with customers and contacts, and forging bonds with co-workers works much better when you’re genuine. Insincerity makes clients and contacts uneasy.

When Not to Be Entirely Yourself

According to the BBC, being too open at work can boomerang in certain situations.

After a promotion, for instance, adaptability to new circumstances is a plus. If your personality is open and friendly, you may share more than you mean to with your team, which can make you less effective.

Authenticity can mean staying in your comfort zone, not taking chances. You’ll face different scenarios in a new position, but flexibility can help with new responsibilities.


Research shows that employees with the ability to change with each workplace situation have a distinct advantage in the workplace. They’re a sort of Chameleon.

It may take time to strike a balance between an entirely true self and an honest but slightly guarded version. Upper management has had years to form their work personas and have gone through a variety of adaptations, learning who they really are along the way.

If you’re too guarded, communication and teamwork break down. Organizations that are run by leaders pretending to be someone else don’t work. People who know who they are contributing more to their jobs,  connect more to co-workers and clients, and are more comfortable in their own skin. Being the best “you” may be the best thing you do at work.


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Tamera Shaw is a freelance writer for Insured Solutions based in Louisville, Kentucky. She writes fiction and enjoys amateur photography. She happily shares her life with husband Ron, daughter Cate and sage cat, Sophie, who grudgingly shares her home with the newest member of our family – Nieko, our new kitten.


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