#IWD21: Maryam Paruk set up a small business to recognise Ireland’s cultural diversity

Dominique McMullan

5 Irish women who have managed their businesses with agility, creativity and fortitude this past...

Melanie Morris

Lynn Enright: ‘With spring’s arrival, I’m finally ready to go back to real clothes’

Lynn Enright

Is marketplace feminism stealing the limelight from real female-driven issues?

Amanda Cassidy

Women-led charities and social enterprises to support this IWD and beyond

Amanda Kavanagh

‘The industry is on its knees’: Wedding planners call for more clarity and support from...

Jennifer McShane

#IWD21: Therese Wright’s wellness doll takes children’s worries

Dominique McMullan

IWD: 8 Irish women in the beauty business on what their biggest failure taught them

Holly O'Neill

#IWD21: Sharon Keilthy is on a mission to promote sustainable play

Eoin Higgins

Image / Editorial

The Real Deal: Have You A Work Persona?

15th Jan 2017

Portrait of confident businesswoman with hands in pockets

The idea of showing your true self at work may be appealing, but could it mean career advancement or might it be dangerous territory? CLAIRE O?MAHONY gets some expert insight.

Most of us have a work persona. Arguably, developing a business personality is necessary to stay sane and succeed. It could be similar to your ?civilian? persona or it could be dramatically different (you could be a house devil and an office angel); either way, there is likely to be elements of ?you? that you hold back or push to adapt and/or progress in the work environment.

But what if you could be your true self and reveal the real you, aws and all? The idea of authenticity and work has been gaining traction in the business world for some time now. Like transparency, authenticity has become highly valued. One study from 2014, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Happiness Studies, whichis focused on the scientific understanding of subjective wellbeing, discovered that the greater an employee’s feeling of authenticity, the larger their job satisfaction, engagement and self-reported performance.

But please pause before you consider this licence to tell your colleague precisely what you think about them; overshare your personal life, or announce in a meeting that, actually, you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing with a project, and it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped.

If you choose to understand being authentic as simply ?being yourself?, you risk damaging your reputation, as well as potentially not growing professionally – for?example, if you’re being ?true? to yourself and you stay in your comfort zone, you may avoid taking on tasks you think are too difficult because you’re not confident in your abilities, and thus won’t learn new skills.

According to Stephen Joseph, a professor of psychology, health and social care at the University of Nottingham in the UK, living authentically is a three-part process. His formula for it is ?know yourself, own yourself and be yourself?. In his recently published book, Authentic: How to Be Yourself & Why it Matters (Piatkus, €19.50), he explores our hunger for authenticity in all aspects of our lives, and gives practical exercises to embrace it. According to his findings, when people are in relationships where they feel accepted and understood, they drop their defences, examine themselves psychologically, accommodate new information and live more authentically, which means true happiness.

He acknowledges that being?authentic in your job can be a?balancing act. ?Workplaces are?notoriously difficult; full of conflict, seething rivalries, and so on, and it’s not always easy to be ourselves. ?Sometimes in workplaces, we’ve got to hold our tongues, and we’ve got to make judgments as to when the time is right to stand our ground on something, or maybe walk away from a con ict. But the key always is rst and foremost taking responsibility for our actions. So if we do walk away from a con ict, it’s through self-knowledge and wisdom that we’re making the best choice in that moment, so we’re being authentic.?What I’m saying is that while authenticity in all situations is a good idea, it doesn’t necessarily’mean telling everyone what they think.?

Dr Daragh Keogh of the Irish Institute of Emotion-Focused erapy agrees with the need for balance and says that in order for people to be happy we need to, to some extent, have our core emotional needs met: to feel safe; to feel love, belonging or connection, whether romantically or in the context of friendship, groups or communities; and to feel self-worth, which comes into being over time, in part as a consequence of how we are valued by others.

?We have important ?identity? related needs, so what we do, how we do it, and the context within which we do it are all very important to us; and our sense of wellbeing is likely to be greatly impacted by how authentic we feel we are being to ourselves in these respects.

?At the same time, we also have needs for safety and relationship. It is important that we are able to present ourselves in work environments in a way that allows us to feel safe, and to develop healthy working relationships with our colleagues.?

The needs for autonomy and identity, as well as for attachment and closeness need to be respected, Dr Keogh maintains, and this can be distilled down into moderating your position if you think it’s going to alienate or upset co-workers.?It’s ?to thine own self be true? – while also remembering that what ultimately is most important to most of us is the quality of our relationships with others. Being true to yourself to the extent that you end up fired or alone is an almost certain route to distress.? In one chapter of Joseph’s book, he explores overcoming toxic workplaces and developing leadership through authenticity. Authentic leadership, he maintains, doesn’t look like the traditional model. ?In many workplaces, senior management often expects leaders to be seen to be leading. So people end up sending emails to make sure there’s a paper trail of who is being asked to do what, and people start behaving in ways to be seen by those above them as leaders, which thwarts the task of ?leading those below them, as they’re too busy focusing on pleasing the people above them. The authentic leader is about nurturing the people who are following them. It’s not about putting on a show to impress other people. So for example, it’s not about being seen to have the answers to the questions, but helping people and the answers for themselves.?

Perhaps the next time you’re tempted to micromanage, or you’re being micromanaged, it might be illuminating to remember that this is possibly the sign of a faux, inauthentic boss.

Also Read

Is marketplace feminism stealing the limelight from real female-driven issues?

‘Femertising’ is big business. Brands are increasingly taking advantage of...

By Amanda Cassidy

sore eyes UTI period
Health Check: What are prostaglandins and how do they affect my period symptoms?

If you find yourself suffering with symptoms like cramping, sore...

By Erin Lindsay

Christmas trifle
Avoca has shared the recipe for their decadent Christmas trifle and we’re digging in

No festive spread is complete without a traditional Christmas trifle...


Covid crying
Tears, fears and tissues: The 5 types of Covid crying we’re all by now familiar with

It goes without saying that most of us have had...

By Edaein OConnell

Elizabeth Day
Elizabeth Day: ‘Life is full of failure. But it’s never too late to change your life’

Failure is a natural element of the cycle of life....

By Jennifer McShane

9 beautiful Champagne glasses to order in time for NYE

Ring in the New Year (and bid a welcome adieu...

By Lauren Heskin

Has society become more tolerant of the idea of dating interracially?
Interracial dating: “People kept asking ‘where is she from?'”

With diversity on the rise, what struggles do interracial couples continue to face today? Filomena Kaguako speaks to three couples about their experiences.

By Filomena Kaguako

Graham Norton
‘People were too busy ordering bottles of brandy or finding out who had the cocaine’: Graham Norton on the Christmases he’d much rather forget

Chatshow host Graham Norton worked as a waiter when he...

By Graham Norton