Probably, we all have something that we rather not share with our colleagues. However, it becomes something else when you hide so much of yourself that you can’t be yourself at all.

Home vs work

Some may value privacy higher than others, and there are a lot of people who want to keep work and home strictly separate from each other. Not wanting to take your work home, might be as good as not wanting to take your private life to work. Whatever floats your boat!

Adapting

It is often necessary to adapt to the environment you are in, dress in accordance with the norm, and behave professionally if your work asks for it. That’s the temporarily role you play and there’s basically nothing wrong with that. You just can’t always behave like you’re at home. But apparently, there are limits to what extent you should adjust.

Stigma and prejudice

In the US and the Netherlands, research was conducted involving personal characteristics that are often stigmatized, such as being gay or lesbian, and conditions such as growing up in poverty or experiencing mental or physical illnesses (Newheiser et al., 2017). The researchers found that hiding this type of characteristics results in lower self-esteem, lower job satisfaction, and commitment to work and the organization.

Hide or not?

To be accepted, one often chooses to hide a stigmatized identity. However, this can work counterproductively because the sense of belonging might just be reduced by it. This affects the quality of both the social interaction with colleagues and the organization where one works. The research therefore suggests that openness is in many cases more advantageous for both the stigmatized person and the organization.

Keep it real

There are, of course, things that you better not tell at work, but try to stay as authentic as possible. Wanting to belong to a group and adjust for it, therefore, comes with a price. Unfortunately, not everyone goes together, but that’s okay. Sometimes there’s just no match, or you’re right in each other’s allergy. You can only learn from that, especially about yourself!

 

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Babette Schwidder

Coach. Helps you empower your hidden potential. Loves nature, learning, and innovation.

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