Be Authentic … but NOT Transparent!

Authentic not Transparent“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”Oscar Wilde

It is necessary to be careful to maintain some distance between our personal and professional lives. Being ourselves in the workplace means we are comfortable with our team leader, team members and customers or clients. It means that you can even tell a humorous story, share personal stories or reflections and ask for and give advice. Don’t interpret this as the ability to be as transparent as we could be with friends or family. This is not the case. Actually, being too transparent can be detrimental to us professionally and affect how others view us in the workplace, including management.

Here are a few suggestions:

You must know who you are to be authentic. Clarify your values, career goals and what makes you happy at work. This may sound idealistic, but you should want to drive your career where you want it to go, rather than taking the first job you’re offered. How you are perceived by others is important as well. It would be helpful if you would identify and write down your values and career goals, and see if they are consistent with the perceptions that others have about you. This goes without saying, but be conscious of the image you project to others, pay attention to your posture, body language and how much of your personal life you share. Selectively, ask a trusted colleague what comes to mind when they think of your strengths and weaknesses as a professional. Then, ask yourself if you are projecting the image that you intend.

Develop good communication skills and exercise care in what you share. Valuable information or comments are less effective if poorly expressed. You can tell the same story in different ways. What I am actually saying here is that you must be able to determine how you relay the same information to two or more different people. The simple reason is that people interpret what they hear based on their own experiences that may not match yours. How and to whom something is said is as important as what is said. Ask trusted colleagues whether or not you tend to over-share or under-share at work to develop and maintain the desired sense of camaraderie. If you tend to under-share, you don’t always have to talk about something personal. There is a lot going on in the world as well as social conversation that are absolutely acceptable “talking points.”

Share only TRUE information. Many stories that have been shared in the workforce at one time or another were false stories, fudged or exaggerated to impress others. At one time or another, all of us have unwittingly shared some information that was not completely accurate. While our intentions may be good, sharing false information can have a devastating effect. Before you share, ask yourself, “Is this true and accurate?”

Make sure that your stories are appropriate. Some stories are appropriate in a personal setting, but not in a business environment. You don’t have to edit everything you say, but you must determine if it is appropriate in the workplace. Throughout my business career and beyond, I am very careful with whom I discuss politics, morality or religion. These topics a fraught with the possibility to create enemies and animosity. My advice is to err on the side of caution and, be darn careful with whom you discuss these issues and furthermore, NOT IN THE WORKPLACE. Don’t get sucked into discussing someone else’s situation or sharing other people’s stories with co-workers. It is not important to share personal views or stories about a co-worker with others in the workplace, particularly if it not work related.

Related Articles:     Create Your Personal Brand   and    Insight + Rapport

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Business Process Improvement, Professional Skills, Team Building

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