You can be you and still be good at your job
Fiona Tate | Mar 8, 2018 | Photograph by: Adam Jang
One of the many differences I’ve noticed between men and women is how they see their work. Men tend to describe themselves as what they do, whereas women don’t seem to have any problem distancing themselves from what they do for a living.
It seems to me that men are always the same. Wherever they go, whatever they’re doing, men are always the same. They use the same language, wear the same clothes, and usually display the same attitudes.
Women, however, play different roles, depending on what they feel is expected of them in each situation. Have you ever heard a man’s “telephone voice?” It sounds exactly like his regular voice.
The gap between a woman’s many roles is getting smaller, but we still have a long way to go. As women, our voices are getting louder and we’re less concerned with how others see us.
But…there’s always a but isn’t there? Showing up as who we are at work, can still be a bit tricky.
Tricky. Not impossible.
Make Sure Your Outer Matches Your Inner
Clothes Maketh the Woman.
One of the most obvious ways we show our individuality is in our clothing. But if you’re a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal and your work has a professional dress code you can end up feeling like your mother. Or father. Or High School Principal.
If you are stuck with a dress code that doesn’t fit, there are subtle things you can do to retain your sense of self while playing the corporate game.
Jewelry is always good. You can cover your favourite pair of earrings with your hairstyle. You can wear a piece that has huge sentimental value, known only to yourself.
If you can’t get away with jewelry? Nobody will ever see what you’re wearing under that suit.
Make Your Space Your Own
The family photo on the desk or office wall has always been a favorite but nowadays, there’s no guarantee you’ll have your own desk or office. In this situation you need to get a bit more creative.
That’s where stationery comes into play. Pens, diary’s, briefcases, all of these can be individualized. And as a bonus, people are less likely to wander off with your Pikachu pen.
If playing loose with the dress code and decorating your own space seems a little…adolescent? There’s a reason for that.
Our teenage years are when we start to understand who we are, and we start to decide who we want to be. We begin to move away from our parents as our friends become more important to us. Depending on where we stand in the high school hierarchy, we may try to fit in with a clique or we may lead the crowd by letting our own individuality announce itself to the world.
How do we do that? By how we dress, by how we decorate our environment and by the language we use. By our attitude.
The psychological association we have between ourselves and how we react to our environment doesn’t go away as we get older. If anything, it becomes more ingrained in our core personality. The problem is, our individuality can get a little lost under all that role playing we have to do in the office.
The #metoo movement has, very loudly, shown the world that some things need to change. And perhaps more importantly, we’re becoming frustrated with “professional behavior.” More and more, we want individuality in the professionals we engage with, not conformity.
Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
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MEET THE FOUNDER Natalie Hughes
Natalie Hughes founded Miss Independent in 2017, to educate and mentor women and help them make their best career and business decisions. Natalie is an experienced business woman and non-executive company director focused on organisational design, strategy, growth and innovation. Her goal is to help you think differently, work differently and feel in control of your own destiny.
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