Should You Try—Or Avoid—“Being Yourself” At Work?

If you happened to run into your boss during the weekend, would he or she recognize you?

For many tech employees, the answer might be no. That’s because a staggering 63% of Americans hide their authentic selves at work. For many people, it’s only natural not to reveal certain parts of their personality or history that could be viewed negatively in the workplace. Nobody needs to know about your Beanie Babies collection, or that you secretly hate going to football games. But for the 63% in question, it’s not foibles or quirks that they are hiding–it’s major aspects of their humanity, such as natural appearance, health, sexual orientation, family situation, affiliation with certain groups, or belief systems.

And while it’s each employee’s prerogative to make the decision about what to reveal and what to conceal, some experts are beginning to question how much good it does to hide one’s true self in the workplace.

It’s an energy suck. Depending on what you’re hiding, it could take an awful lot of effort to cover your real self up each and every day at work. That’s energy that could be directed towards your job.

It prevents bonding. The feeling that you can’t be yourself at work makes it harder to want to open up to colleagues–and it prevents you from identifying with others in your same position.

It perpetuates systemic issues. Some people hide aspects of themselves because they fear prejudice. While it’s deeply personal to decide whether or not to be public about some things, it’s also true that concealing differences makes it harder for them to become part of the fabric of everyday life.

Should you open up about yourself at work? Only you can decide. If you find that you’re expending large quantities of time and effort maintaining appearances and having a hard time building strong relationships at work, you could consider it. There’s an accepting, healthy workplace for everybody–and you’ll find yours, no matter how much of your authentic self you choose to bring into the workplace.


Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at or send him an invite at To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!

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