Aligning the person you are at work with who you are in your personal life is a greatly feared option in today’s society. People have become so used to the idea of work as a separate world, containing set routines, etiquette and expectations, that the thought of applying personal principals or reasoning is something that’s considered experimental. Yes, it’s important that we’re skilled at adapting to various situations or challenges as they occur, we do this in order to attain goals and it’s a very successful way of operating. However, to live in a constant mode of adaptation or compromise for eight hours a day is a very different scenario. If you listen close enough, you’ll find it says a lot not only about you, but also the environment you’ve chosen to work in.
The most common presumption is that introducing more of your ‘out of office personality’ into the work space equates with some sort of weakness or with being unprofessional. If this is the case, what does it say about the other side of you and your overall compatibility with the company you’re currently in? Why are you choosing to be somewhere that requires you to be so incredibly different from what you consider your natural state? Whilst we need allow room for a little give and take, there are some fundamental principles that are definitely beneficial to stick with.
Be clear on what you’re good at and what you need help with
In our personal lives we’re often quite vocal about the things we can’t do, sometimes to the extreme of self-deprecation or, doing a disservice to our own capacity to learn. In the work place however, it’s common to take on tasks with elements we know are going to be new and taxing, and to become frustrated as we muddle through, only reluctantly asking for help. If when you’re out socially you’re the person who naturally stands up and says, “wait, I don’t get this” but you don’t do it at work, then question why. Ask why you allow work to repress your honesty, then make a change based on your answer.
Know your limits and respect them
You’re out with your two best friends and they both ask you to be somewhere or do something on the same future date – what do you say? Is it your natural reaction to agree and then fret about it for weeks, or do you make them aware of your other commitments and attempt to renegotiate times, dates or needs? It’s so incredibly easy in the work environment to feel stretched to capacity, but all too often we have the battle internally or we discuss it with the wrong colleagues who are only able to sympathise, rather than the ones at cause or able to directly influence change. Respect your limits as you would in your personal life and at the very least communicate your reality to the right people. If you enjoy this level of pressure or it’s what you actively signed up for then that’s another story, if it makes you uncomfortable however, do something.
Don’t stand for in business what you wouldn’t stand for in your personal life
I’ve seen countless cases of office bullying involving victims who are true forces to be reckoned with in their personal lives. The bullying behaviour experienced by them can range from being constantly given all the menial tasks, to being addressed rudely and dismissively. It’s crucial to understand here that the four walls of work do not contain a magic force-field that your personal standards and self-respect are unable to penetrate. These aspects of your personality are what have helped you get to this stage of your life, they are loyal resources that should be upheld, not tucked away because suddenly the environment has changed and you believe the boundaries have shifted. Self-respect, standards and personal values are traits which need never change from situation to situation, unless you’re happy to let them do so. The key word here is happy, if it makes you miserable – hold them firm.
Listen to the way you feel
In the work place, ignoring the feelings that see you through your personal life is not always a good idea. Feelings are the mind’s natural way of communicating messages to us about things we are experiencing. What you’re doing when you ignore your feelings at work is essentially ignoring yourself and placing some other thing or person as a greater priority. Even if it’s not appropriate in the moment, it’s essential to revisit anything that causes a strong reaction in yourself, so you can either deal with it or learn from it. It doesn’t just have to be the negative reactions you focus on either, it can be something that makes you extremely happy, i.e. a colleague or project. Pay attention and pursue these feelings as much in your work environment as in your personal.