Who are you at work?

Ever been in a meeting that kicked off with: “Wassup everyone? Innit. Let’s get down to work”?

Neither have we!

There are written and unwritten rules in every workplace, which means you’ll probably have to act slightly differently than you would in your usual day-to-day life. Depending on where you work, you’ll probably need to be more professional, you might tone down certain aspects of your personality and you may choose to dress or present yourself a bit differently.

But how do you do this and still showcase your sparkling personality?

We spoke to Luxsiya, Jamie, Reubs and William about how they stay true to themselves in the workplace.

Watch your tongue

Every workplace has its own lingo, so when you start work you’ll have to learn what the language of your new workplace is.

You’ll also quickly learn what you shouldn’t say. For Luxsiya, part of being professional is not using “certain terms and slang” at work. All workplaces are different, but if you want to communicate professionally, leave the casual or bad language at home.

Own who you are

Will wears a cochlear implant and worries about how being deaf might affect his work. Misunderstanding a situation “can make you feel self-conscious,” he says.

So he modifies his behaviour. Will speaks “a lot more slowly” and clarifies what’s been said to make sure that he’s heard. He doesn’t hide that he’s deaf but thinks that this can be a positive thing – it’s part of his “professional front”.

Know when to switch it on (and off!)

You might work in a more informal environment day-to-day, but there will be certain situations where you need to adapt to your environment and make sure you alter your behaviour accordingly. As Luxsiya says:

“In my workplace I feel like we've got the balance right. We can all be completely ourselves around each other but there's a mutual understanding that when there's external parties involved, there's different rules and that's absolutely fine as well.”

Try dressing for success

Jamie chooses to dress in a way that reflects their authentic self, makes them feel confident but also conveys a professional persona. They say:

“Visually, I would dress in a way that is still very ‘me’ but I would choose something that makes me feel very powerful or very confident.”

Reubs chooses to dress quite formally at work because:

“I feel like that sends a message that I’m a competent grown-up professional and I'm not just ‘that trans one’.”

Every workplace is different, so get the lay of the land when you start and see what the workplace ethos is like. You don’t want to change or hide who you are completely, but you might need to make some concessions if you want to be your best professional self.

For more advice on support on being yourself have a look at our Bitesize Support Identity pages.

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