By Verity Craft

[A look at why women feel like they have to act in certain ways for work]

Why do we pretend to be anything other than ourselves?

As women, we often feel we need to hide aspects of our personalities, or go against our own values in order to win respect and feel comfortable within our workplace. But are we disrespecting our authentic selves when we succumb to workplace expectations? How can we be true to ourselves without feeling uncomfortable about it?

Why do women feel they need to behave differently at work?

Although we believe the saying “it’s a man’s world” is fading, it is sadly still true that the majority of workplaces are male-led. With most CEO and leadership positions held by men, we often still see a certain standard of work ethic that reflects predominantly on male perspectives or masculine behaviours.

This can create a tension between expected behaviours and a woman’s true and authentic self. As a result, it’s common for women to hide certain things, or aspects of themselves, at work. For example, they may cover up their emotions or perspectives on issues, or discussions surrounding children or pregnancy. What’s more, many say that they are uncomfortable about speaking up, for fear they will be classed as “bossy” or “emotional”.

Women feel like they have to copy the behaviours of men at work

Rightly or wrongly, many women feel that in order to be taken seriously as professionals, they must behave in the manner that men recognise the most: the men’s own.

In a survey taken by telecommunications firm O2, out of 2000 women, 40% admitted to leaving the office to cry in order to hide their emotions. Another 20% believed they needed to act masculine to be respected at work. Some women even admitted to “mirroring” their male colleagues.

Why is important to be your authentic self at work?

Being authentic in the workplace, and in day-to-day life, means being in touch with our instincts, knowing our values and sticking to them no matter what. It requires prioritising what is most important to us, and then being true to ourselves in every situation. This may seem easier said than done. There’s a fair chance you have gone against your values or hidden your opinion to suit the comfort of those around you.

However, it’s worth the effort. Why? Because authenticity is not only the key to a successful career, but a happy life. When we are authentic we are showing the world exactly who we are, no questions asked. We’re not allowing anyone else to decide what we’re about, and what will work for us – instead, we are living by our own standards of success and happiness. The importance of authenticity also comes down to never feeling as though we have any regrets within our working space.

“Be your authentic self” event

Here at Professionelle, we want to help you to be the best version of yourself, wherever you are in your career. We hope that you will join us at our downtown Auckland event on the 26th of July at ASB’s “The Cube” to hear from the wonderful:

  • Pauline Winter
  • Lisa King
  • Brough Johnson
  • and our facilitator, Sue Watson

You’ll gain insights into how you can live your best, authentic self . Come and be a part of the discussion around this important, evergreen topic!

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