I’ve just returned from having lunch with a friend who is training to be a life coach. We’ve known each other over 10 years and we always laugh whether we’re lunching, coffee-ing or out drinking. I love our chats of late which are usually about self improvement and making fools of ourselves. Interestingly we were talking today about trusting your instinct and being yourself in front of people. I said that sometimes I wished I could be as confident and true to myself around new people as I am with those who know me the most.
In my last post I looked at the importance of being authentic in writing but how honest about yourself should you be in your professional life? I still find myself wanting to say the “right” thing to the point where I am nervous about it, which if I think about it now is not only absurd but usually fails anyway as the nerves make me say something silly. What is the “right” thing to say? And what’s going to happen to me if I say the “wrong” thing?
Don’t people get more out of interacting with others if they are being themselves? Aren’t they more likely to find like-minded people by showing their true personality?
But just how honest and open should you be? Probably not to the point of attending meetings unwashed, unbrushed and unkempt even though that certainly is the “real you”. It’s also probably a grim experience for you and the people you meet. I couldn’t attend a meeting without make up simply because I am so fair that without it I lose all of the distinction in my face. I look like Morph’s friend Chas after Tony Hart has smudged his little putty features off.
My heroes and heroines of the online world are those who are unashamedly honest about their passions, for example potty mouthed Naomi Dunford from the fantastic marketing site IttyBiz, and excitable as a Cocker Spaniel Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library. Two fantastic and inspiring personalities who are passionate, honest about their interests, hard working and determined to go after the things that interest them and love, and outsource the rest or just let the things go that don’t really matter to them.
The question is, can I do the same? I’m going to give it a go at the very least.
I’d be interested to hear if there is anyone else out there who has experienced a similar desire to be more themselves and how has that affected their work. Did it improve it? Did they gain more respect? Were people uncomfortable with the new you?
Nichole Bazemore says
I think you raise a very valid issue. I think too few people are comfortable really being who they are online. Want evidence? Pick any industry and read just five websites or articles from people within that industry. You’ll likely find that they use the same catchphrases, inflection, humor, cadence, etc. Why? Because it’s safe. Growing a business online, I find, is a lot like trying to fit into a clique in high school. I didn’t fit in then, and I likely won’t now. But I’m okay with that. At least my voice will be distinctive.
Great post. Thanks for being transparent and daring to be the real you online.
Not fitting in is a great attribute, althugh it can be an uncomfortable one to have. I’m still not as comfortable speaking my mind as I’d like to be but I’m trusting my gut more and more. 🙂
Grace Marshall says
So many of us have spent years of growing up learning to say the ‘right’ thing, it’s quite a liberating shift to just being yourself. At first, I think it even took me longer to figure out ‘my thing’ rather than the ‘right thing’ but I think that’s part of who I am – someone who likes to think about what she’s saying (most of the time!) When you realise that your thing IS the right thing though, that makes me grin 🙂
I’m glad you decided to be yourself – I’ve enjoyed getting to know you!
Hey Grace, and it’s a pleaseure knowing you as well!
i’m like you, i’d rather stay quiet and think a little while than blurt out the firs tthing on my mind.
Because quite often my mind and opinion can change about things (as is a woman’s perogative!)
Ann @ Creative Boomer says
I’m still fairly new at putting myself out in front of people so knowing where to draw that line is still something I’m trying to figure out. Nice to hear I’m not the only one.
Hey Ann! Great to have your comment here 🙂
It’s something I know a lot of people struggle with, especially when they are the “face” of their business.
You might also be encouraged to know that this doesn’t happen overnight (so don’t try and force it 😉 ) just take time, test and tweak till you find something you’re comfortable with !
Ann @ CreativeBoomer says
Just finished Day 2 calls from your Crystal series. Am greatly enjoying them.
BTW, I was admiring your header, particularly liked the shadow effect. Was going to try something like that with my graphic when I realized my graphic already looked spookily too similar… red hair, pink top, jeans & heels. Good thing I knew I sketched mine before I saw your site!
Guess as redheads we have similar tastes!
Ha – that is spooky! Must be something about complementary colours? Just having a look at your site, the bowed psaltery is fascinating! I play in a Bluegrass band so love acoustic instruments, but that’s a new one to me. 🙂
Oh, and Men With Pens did my header for me – I’m useless at design! 🙂