Does your work let you be you?
Feeling comfortable and empowered allows you take risks, speak out more and solve problems better. It is unhealthy to feel like you are under constant analysis and navigation of what you can and can’t say and do. We perform better where we are comfortable. Our creativity allows us to solve problems more efficiently. An obvious example being that wearing something we feel comfortable in and gets us compliments on makes us feel more confident and changes our behaviour for the good. Encouragement serves as a type of ‘psychological safety’. This safety beats talent. There is no embarrassment or rejection just the ability to share ideas without feeling ostracised. The safer a team is, the better they learn. Psychological safety is the HR dream. Teams that group together are less likely to see faults in the group itself. No more vulnerability means security in their position resulting in a strong community stance. The safer team members feel with one another, the more likely they are to admit mistakes, to partner and to take on new roles. Not only listen but understand their colleagues.
In the old days most organisations were run by fear. This resulted in negative thinking and lower levels of good mental health, silencing victims for decades, but now “they are feeling empowered enough to do something about it. Psychological safety is particularly important for bringing out the best in a diverse workforce. Unlike explicit rules, norms are shared conventions and standards, and they are not necessarily written down or explained out loud. Some groups can enforce consensus more than others, be more open to questioning leadership, accepting and correcting mistakes, or encouraging junior members to express opinions.
The current shift of workspace personality and workplace norms have relaxed slightly. Flexible working has blurred the lines between aspects of professionalism. With this relaxed approach what happens if someone dislikes an aspect of your personality? What is the line between being friendly and being a nuisance? Can you actually let go at work? If you can’t do this will you be at risk of not acknowledging your full potential. There is such a thing as being too comfortable. This is important to touch upon. Maybe you feel that your co-workers or boss secretly hate you? Or could it be you who is disagreeable? You may not realise it but you could be the one engaging in unprofessional habits.
Swearing and personal calls are a no no. Bragging loudly and often can come across with a tone of superiority and look like you’re putting other people down, pointing out their failures. Showing up late to meetings shows that you do not respect your co-workers and can look arrogant. What about being a slob? Leaving a mess behind you means that someone else will have to clean it up and it shows a lack of responsibility to your own actions. If you are complaining too much people will go out of their way to avoid you. Interrupting people? Shows you don’t have any respect, judgement or patience. Participation is good but timing is key. Yes feeling comfortable in the workplace is important but it is not your home office and must still be respected as a shared area. You feel distant? You might be doing this to yourself, putting up barriers between yourself and co-workers.
Your boss needs to be the one to set the tone for a safe space for all. If the balance isn’t right there will be no benefits from this open behaviour that benefits the core values of a workspace. It is time to find that sweet spot between working in a place with no freedom and a place with too much.