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‘Being yourself’ not the secret of workplace success

PUBLISHED: 00:00 24 April 2012

New research shows that while revealing your true character to a partner or friends is likely to make you happier, doing so at the office is not a recipe for promotion.

Scientists assessed levels of “authentic self-expression” in 533 volunteers to see how far they opened up to people they interacted with socially. The results showed that participants were more likely to “be themselves” with partners, followed by friends and then parents. Last on the list were work colleagues. I’ve always felt that honesty is highly over-rated, as are those horrendous people that proudly tell you that they’re “just telling it how it is”. If everyone in life went around “just telling it how it is”, murder rates would explode and none of us would have any friends, partners or a job to escape to.

Dr Oliver Robinson, from the University of Greenwich in London, said: “You hear self-help gurus say that the secret of happiness is ‘being yourself’ or ‘expressing your true feelings’, but that doesn’t seem to apply in the workplace.

“So in some circumstances, it may be that a polite smile or tactfully keeping quiet may be more conducive to your well-being than saying what you actually think and feel to work colleagues.”

To be fair, the one time when I think it probably is entirely reasonable to ‘express your true feelings’ is when you’re dealing with a ‘self-help guru’. Or anyone who refers to themselves as a guru whatsoever. My rule of thumb is that if someone calls themselves a guru, it’s probably because they can’t spell ‘charlatan’. I am my true self at work, which is why I have remained Village Fete and Flower Show Correspondent for the past 15 years.

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