But they said to bring my whole self

The self that the workplace values is the one that doesn’t disrupt the flow. Generally, the workplace loves for things to fit into a box. So bring the most authentic self to work while still meeting general requirements. This word of caution is because the whole self involves two major characteristics: vulnerability and trust. As an emotional intelligence specialist, there is still much to learn. We continue to research, write, and read leadership daily but find it hard to trust each other because most of us work in hierarchy systems that almost constantly evaluate how we perform and act. This is a high-stakes environment  

Let’s build trust and vulnerability in a safe controlled way. Here are some options that are designed to keep you safe and  build your Whole Self;

  • Find at least one person in your workspace who is a trusted friend, and lean on them when needed. Support is a powerful healer 

  • If your water cooler chat runith over with repeated negative emotions until you are standing knee-deep in them,  STOP! Those in pain look to vent but can find themselves oversharing or worse spreading negativity. We have all been there. The key is to recognize when it spills over. Do not continue to rehearse negativity without resolution. This is practiced misery. You might consider getting help so someone can work you through these feelings or emotions. This is sometimes hard to kick by yourself. I have a great colleague whom I respect. She said “Look I am worried about you, you need to start doing different” This was regarding the negative attitude I took on in my former workplace. Once I was able to recognize it, I made a real change. I now help others realize how negativity can affect areas of their life.     

  • Choose after-work gatherings carefully– Social events may have taken the water coolers’ place. Be careful! Work gatherings do not show much proof of dispelling stress. Instead, they tend to lead to practice negativity. If I go out to relax but spend the next 3 hours talking about work then this is not what I need. Especially if gossip and backbiting become part of the mix. If alcohol is added to the mix, it can become another trouble variable. 

  • Use general terms to discuss mental struggles in the workplace, Depression, low motivation, or a case of The Blahs are understood by everyone to mean you are struggling. Although you may be tempted to explain in-depth how you feel many workers report feeling vulnerable or unheard. Remember people are not usually intentionally dismissive, but we are at different places around the understanding of mental struggles. 

  • Articulate how you need support- It is our hang-up as humans who believe that asking for support can be seen as a weakness. Saying ” I need some focused time to get this task done” or “If someone could help with this part of the project” might give you the relief you need.

  • Open door policy Always comes with caveats. This usually means that managers, bosses, and supervisors are open to hearing whatever information you have to share. But they might respond differently than you expect. Your knowledge of current workplace norms and culture are all things that must be considered. So yes it can go well but it may not be received as you wanted. 

  • Take advantage of mental health resources available Therapeutic resources are often underutilized because clients don’t know that things such as Employee Assistance Programs EAP) exist. These programs are usually an introductions and are not meant to replace full-time mental health treatment but they can be a great start. Please check with HR for benefits in this regard. 

  • Use your power of discernment when discussing your important topics at work. I work with employees and management and sometimes  will suggest something and my clients fire back a quick  “That doesn’t work in this place” I have learned to trust my clients.  They are there to deal with the outcome so they may no better than anyone what is safe or not safe