I’m chatty, playful and expressive. Do I have to tone down my personality in a professional working environment?
I remember a school report when I was seven: “Sharmadean is a chatty member of the class and can sometimes be overenthusiastic.” Even in my tender years, the notion of kaizen (the Japanese concept of continuous improvement) was important to me. So I worked on toning myself down, letting others take charge and being less, well, energetic. Turns out the people around you want, need and feed off your energy. When I’m flat in the office or at a dinner, it’s commented on negatively. Colleagues think I’m uninterested or don’t like the people around me if I’m not super hyper. I got my first internship because of the personality traits you describe above, to bring vibes to fashion shoots.
But it can be overbearing in a structured environment. I’ve become close to two introverts and am learning what makes them feel uncomfortable, and trying to find a balance between both behaviours. Have you done a Meyers-Briggs or Enneagram personality test? I find them useful when it comes to shedding a light on why I am the way I am, and how I can bring out the best in my personality.
I don’t think the answer is to tone yourself down. I’m a big believer in bringing your whole self to the workplace. You spend most of your life there, so it would be dangerous to repress your identity for such long periods of time. Instead, make a long list of your personality traits in a spreadsheet and next to them write how someone could perceive them as either positive or negative. Then write an action next to each one to help you be better for yourself and those around you. You’ll have more of an understanding ofyour role in the world. Isn’t that all life is?
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