Making the Case for Authenticity in Business
A thought occurred to me one night a few years ago as I was telling a group of college students to be careful when writing for the workplace. "Avoid using language that's too casual or informal in business writing," I said, "because it can come off as immature and unprofessional." This is what we're basically taught, right? To eliminate the emotion in our writing. It's a concept I have obviously come to learn and apply (or else I wouldn't be telling our next generation of professionals to follow the same steps). Upon further reflection, I would tell my students that I was wrong (sort of). Keep the personality (to a point, anyway). Maintain a tone that reflects the writer, not just the organization. Express yourself clearly and concisely, always with purpose, and yes, always with emotion. Let me explain. Business is about so much more than writing, but it is an interesting thought that young people are taught to leave their own personalities aside before they even get to the workplace. No wonder the majority of people we meet at networking events are so stiff! Somewhere along the line, they forgot to just be themselves. I give you four points to consider: Be Yourself. We have seen this so often. "People do business with people they like." Duh. No brainer ... Or is it? Truly, be. yourself. The unique perspective that you as an individual bring to any situation is part of your edge; who you are is your value proposition. Forget about your company for a minute; you have permission to let your smart/goofy/nerdy/shy/bubbly/weird self show through in all its glory. The rest will come. Be Vulnerable. Are you nervous or anxious about going to a networking event on your own? Scared to speak up in front of a group? Don't fully understand the assignment? Join the club! While I am a believer in 'fake it 'til you make it,' there does come a point when you have to admit the possibility of failure. The thing is, failure and the fear of appearing vulnerable, especially in business, is universal. You'll be the ballsy one to actually admit it, plus you'll get the help or guidance you need, and ... Bonus! You'll probably forge better bonds with those around you in the process. Be Passionate. If you don't believe in what you're doing, how can you expect anyone else to do the same? If you don't have a real passion for what you do and who you work for (even if you're the CEO ... especially if you're the CEO, actually), believe me, it shows. It shows in your lackluster introduction. It shows in your God-awful boring script you've been calling a company description. And it shows in your attitude. Maybe you do love your work, and you're just bad at expressing it. There are consultants for that. But if your job is truly just a paycheck, do us all a favor and give yourself permission to find your passion ... Whatever it may be. Your family will thank you. Be Genuine. I finish with this point because it's the icing on the cake of an awesome, friendly person, and I want you to be that person, too. No matter where you work or what you do, know your identity. Know who you are and what you stand for. It's personal, intimate, and yes, emotional.
A certain level of emotion does belong in the workplace. Emotion humanizes even the most intimidating person. It makes the president of a billion-dollar company relateable. It makes the workday easier because you're no longer worried about leaving a part of yourself at home, or with your kids. You're not a separate self, split between lives; and you're probably also going to be a happier person for it. Author's Note: 'Emotion' in this sense isn't about throwing tantrums at work or giving yourself (or others) permission to whine. There's a big difference between blow outs at the office and expressing yourself in a meaningful way.
reprinted from LinkedIn, original post 9/5/14