The great Marilyn Monroe once said, “If you’re gonna be two-faced, at least make one of them pretty.” Do you ever feel like you are living two lives? Specifically, do you feel like you act one way during the day at your job and then completely different once you’re off the clock? Of course, we all act more professional and possibly guarded during the day (hopefully), but do some of us really take on different personas? Alternative work personalities?
Sometimes I think of Michelle Pfeiffer when she played Catwoman in the classic film Batman Returns. During the day she was meek and fragile, and then at night she put on that black pleather suit (that she totally rocked) and became a total bad ass. Yes, she was pushed out a window of a skyscraper and was then revived/possessed by alley cats and became a cat/woman hybrid (that, I am pretty sure, is scientifically impossible), but you get the point.
I know that I try to at least convey somewhat of a put-together professional, stylish demeanor at work even through that morning that I slept too late, rushed through my dog’s walk, and forgot once again to bring my lunch (not to mention eat a nutritious breakfast… unless they changed the guidelines for a good breakfast to include one cup of coffee and a handful of jelly beans?).
But apparently I am not the only one that feels this way. We do have different modes of behavior depending on our environments (Thanks, Darwin). But maybe we do act certain ways at work in order to survive.
The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revered Vincent Nichols, told The Telegraph in September 2012:
“When businesses see themselves as set apart in some way, free to create their own value system divided from the rest of life, then they are liable to do most harm…
“Then there appears, for instance, an unhealthy focus on power or reward, or an expectation of overwork to the cost of family or spiritual life.
“This fosters a sense of living an unhealthily ‘divided life’, in which we leave the better part of our values and ideals at home when we go to work.”
I was really talking more about being really neat and tidy at work to impress people, but then going home to a really messy apartment. That could partly just be because we work so darn much that we end up putting all of our energy into work, so when we come home all we can do is collapse on the couch. Maybe we made it to the gym or out with friends if we’re lucky. I am proud of myself if I make mac and cheese instead of using Seamless Web.
But there may be some that do literally put on a mask or alter ego at work. It is good to have a game face, but you should also represent yourself, who you really are, in the workplace.
Academic research conducted by the University of Houston in Texas and the University of Greenwich in London has shown that being authentic at work doesn’t affect how happy people are with their job, but at the same time, a study conducted by Harvard Business School suggests differently—that when employers promote self-expression in the workplace, it reduces turnover and increases productivity.
I’m not saying show up naked at work and release every feeling you are thinking (your co-workers don’t need that, and I’m guessing your friends don’t either), but don’t be a whole different person at work.
Do you think it’s important to be your true self at work? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments!