“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson
Being able to stay true to who you are in every situation is an incredibly important trait to develop. To some people, the term “be yourself” is not easy. In today’s competitive society, college students and even adults are struggling to value what they believe in and voice their opinions as the need to impress others and “fit in” takes over. At work, it seems even more impossible to stay true to who you are since the need to get along with coworkers, bosses, clients and receive promotions takes precedence. It doesn’t matter if you are in school, at work or around family and friends, people will count on you more if they see consistency in your actions and personality. Here are some best practices for learning to stand your own, gain respect, and develop your own personal brand at the office:
- Social Skills
- The way in which you socialize with others can tell people if you are more on the introvert spectrum or extrovert spectrum. Social media gives a window to your personality, so make sure that if anyone you work with is following you, they see who you really are. If your coworkers see that you have a fun and outgoing personality outside the office, but portray yourself to be more reserved in the office it can come off as a turnoff. If you are afraid of not being “professional” enough, it’s probably good to remember that everyone is human and also have lives outside the office.
- It’s OK to be a reserved person at work if that is who you really are. People will respect learning the real you and if you plan on spending time at the company, it will come out sooner or later. This is not to say you should talk about all the times you had too much to drink in front of your boss, but letting him or her in just enough to see that you are the person that they hired is important. Finding a balance is key.
- Open up Communication
- If you are someone who can never get a word in edgewise, practice using your body language to speak up and get yourself heard. If you are in a meeting, this is especially important. You may have some great ideas that never get heard because you aren’t stealing your opportunities to stand out. Over time this can make you frustrated and grow tired of people you work with, building up negative energy that adversely impacts your performance.
- Learning how to start communication may involve getting out of your comfort zone which may not be a part of your personality, but will help keep you involved and reduce unnecessary stress. Most importantly, it will help people to know who you are and where you stand, building your personal brand in the office. Conversely, if you are someone who doesn’t hesitate to take over any conversation, then maybe it would be wise to develop your listening skills. People don’t like people that take over meetings and don’t let others chime in. It may seem natural to you to just go on and on, but consider the others in the room as well and give them the opportunity to speak.
- Listening is one of the most important traits anyone can have. The ones who listen and understand where people are coming from usually have the best, most relevant responses, making them effective communicators. If you are an ambivert and still struggle with communication, then perhaps it would be wise to consider developing your understanding skills. Try to focus on intention, motives and where people are coming from. Most people want to work in an environment that’s conducive to open and honest communication, so if you are in a situation where there is some friction it would benefit you to develop habits of patching things up before things get worse.
- It’s important to remember that you are a unique individual with your own values and opinions. Sometimes when you get along with different personalities, it can be easy to lose touch with yourself as the many opinions can drown your own.
- Respect the Opinion of Others
- Form your own opinions but respect those of others. One of the best way you can avoid confrontation is by understanding that everyone is allowed to their own opinion and truly adopting that belief. If what someone says offends you personally, I would take some time to approach that individual and express your opinion. If you felt disrespected, mention it to them. Part of staying true to who you are is standing up for yourself when you feel you have to. People come from all walks of life and who they are and what they say is a culmination of their life experiences.
- It’s helpful to remember to think about what you say before you chime in with your own opinion. A great way to do that is say what you are going to say in your head first because it gives you a chance to hear it the way everyone else will as well. If you still want to say it, then go ahead and say it.
- The “Dress” in “Addressed”"
- Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak" ― Rachel Zoe.
- Clothing is a great way to get your personality across to others. The way you dress really can tell people more about who you are. If you are someone who goes above and beyond with matching your shoes to your accessories and always making sure everyday that your hair done, people may view you as someone with great attention to detail and confidence. According to Professor Karen Pine, psychologist, author and speaker, the way that you dress can affect the way you view yourself. She completed an experiment that suggested that if you wear super hero clothing you are more likely to believe that you are actually physically stronger than you are. This shows that the way you dress not only affects what other’s see you as, but the way that you see yourself.
- If you work in an office with more flexible clothing restrictions, it’s a lot easier to show off your personality, but it’s not impossible to do either if you work in an office with strict restrictions. Let’s say, for example, as a woman you are required to wear a three piece suit and have to make sure that your shoes are neutral colors among other strict rules. You can think outside the box and show off your personality through jewelry. If you stick with studs, maybe you’re more simple, whereas if you prefer long dangles or over sized hoops, you may be perceived as more bold and outgoing. If jewelry is not your thing, you can always find other ways to show people who you are. Refrain from rebelling against your given dress code to stand out, this will only be perceived as obnoxious behavior and won’t be accepted very well.
- Office Space
- The way you decorate your office space can be an easy way to start conversation with others in the office and show people who you are. If you have a desk space, I would ask to see whether or not it’s OK to hang up any pictures. If not; there are always other options available that can give you the same effect. Command adhesives are great alternatives that don’t cause damage to walls and are removable. I would also bring something personal like a photograph or a mug you always drink coffee/hot tea out of. If you have a selection of classic novels on your desk, you may be telling others you like to sit down with a good book instead of hitting up all the new restaurants in town. If you have an office slinky that you use to unwind, it may tell people you are a playful and fun.
- Maybe your desk is a mess or maybe it’s always tidy. The way you keep your desk can be indicative of the state your life is in so be mindful of what you’re conveying to others. If you have a cubicle, don’t exclude yourself, the size of space doesn’t matter as much as whatever you decide to do with it. The point is that no matter how you decorate your space, all out, or just a couple of touches, it can express more about who you are. If you are someone that chooses not to decorate your office space at all, it may come off as being lazy and/or uninterested. From an employer’s standpoint, if you never take the time to make your space your own it can come off as a concern for longevity and commitment to the company.
The most important thing to remember when trying to remain an individual at work is to think about the person that you are, the person that you are conveying and whether or not those two people are the same. Everything you say and do omits subtle indications about who you are as an individual. If you want more of an opportunity to showcase your individuality for companies to see, update your digital profile today!