Don’t bother showing your true self at work, says study

30 Apr

While we’re always being encouraged to be true to ourselves, there’s a limit to how and when we can express our authenticity, according to a new study.

Research from the University of Houston and the University of Greenwich shows that, while you’ll boost your happiness by being yourself and speaking your truth when you’re with close friends, family and loved ones, at work it’s better to keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself.

Dr Oliver Robinson, senior lecturer in the department of psychology and counselling at the University of Greenwich, presented the results of the research at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference 2012 in his seminar ‘Should you bother ‘being yourself’ at work? The effect of social context on the relationship between authenticity and wellbeing’.

Dr Robinson said it had no bearing on satisfaction at work whether you are authentic or fake – with only a third of people in the study saying they didn’t provide false information to people at work.

An article in Bloomberg Business Week quotes Dr Robinson as saying: “There is an awful amount of impression management at work, that is required at work. Being yourself at work doesn’t work because of a need to put on a front.”

So, if you’re tempted to share your innermost feelings with a colleague, it’s better not to bother.


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