Despite having run “Working with Difference” open workshops for over four years, I still find it amazing how so few people fully recognise the full impact that their diversity, personality and individuality have on their workplace behaviour. Indeed, many never reveal their true selves, hiding behind a façade to the extent that they would hardly be recognised by their nearest and dearest if witnessed in their working environment. What a shame that is!
A recent coaching client was seeing me to help improve her relationships with male colleagues. She explained that she was fearful of how she would respond as a manager if she allowed her femaleness to come to the fore. As I wondered what parts of herself she was referring to, she added that she is quite a gentle person, sensitive and prone bursting into tears, so over the years had developed a hard exterior to protect herself from her “weaker” side. Was she trying to present an image of her inner maleness instead?
By concealing her true self whilst at work she was doing disservice to her employer, colleagues, those she managed and most importantly, herself? Surely successful working relationships are best created on a foundation of authenticity and honesty. Being authentic is a major part of this.
This blog post comes with a plea. Look at your working self; is what you see in the workplace mirror a true reflection or a fabrication based on the reality. What parts are being hidden and from whom? Are you anxious of exposing who you really are? What would be the result if the authentic you turned up at work one day? Do you think your colleagues would run away or perhaps take advantage of any vulnerability? Probably not; in a short time they would learn to appreciate you more than they do today. For many this “coming out” might seem a little risky, but can I suggest that however hard it would be, the outcomes will make it worthwhile in the long run.
The journey towards authenticity in the workplace is the basis of “Working with Difference”, which is delivered as a personal or organisational exploration; a recognition of what individuality and personal differences really are. Experience has shown that leaders, managers and colleague all benefit from “Working with Difference” making organisations more effective, productive and profitable and more importantly creating a more supportive and caring workplace, where all can thrive.
In addition, “Working with Difference” enables organisations to leverage greater benefit than just equality legislation compliance; it becomes a powerful tool in leadership and personal development, team building, conflict resolution and mediation, healing difficult or dysfunctional managerial relationships and as an effective intervention in situation of workplace bullying.
The next “Working with Difference” open workshop takes place in London on 22 June and bookings are now open on the Equality Edge website. What’s more, anyone booking received, using this blog as a referral point can claim additional discounts