Being Authentically You at Work

by Women In Trucking Staff, on Mar 13, 2024 9:36:07 AM


Even if you prefer to keep your work and personal lives separate, it’s important to be your authentic self at work. While you may want to slightly adjust the way you think, interact and behave in the professional setting, being authentic enables you to share your true personality with your colleagues, partners and customers – which ultimately can help you to build stronger, more meaningful relationships.

Why Is Being Authentic Important?

Being your authentic self professionally and personally means your personality at work and at home are similar, if not identical. While some aspects of an individual’s personality may not be as appropriate to demonstrate in a work setting, being your authentic self at work may help you become more comfortable and contribute to a happier and healthier work environment. 

Being authentically you at work can be  very beneficial to your mental health and professional growth opportunities. It allows you to be open and more effectively build trust with others, which oftentimes can  help you to develop a stronger professional network and gain an advantage in promotion selection. Also, sharing your authentic personality and personal experiences may encourage your coworkers to act more authentically as well.

Shelley Simpson 300x300Shelley Simpson, President of J.B. Hunt Transport Services who was named by Women In Trucking (WIT) as the 2023 Influential Woman in Trucking, suggests that authenticity is the most attractive leadership quality – and clearly she lives this belief daily. “People want a leader that goes through the same thing that they do,” she notes. Simpson clearly does this by regularly listening to, learning from, and connecting with nearly 40,000 employees who are in her workforce.

Ways to Be Authentic at Work

If you’re hoping to be more authentic at work, consider this list of ways you can display your personality in the workplace:

Listen to others.

While being yourself at work can mean focusing on your own forms of self-expression, it’s also important to listen to others in order to build relationships. Listening also helps your coworkers express themselves authentically. To demonstrate to your coworker that you’re listening to them, consider asking them questions or reacting nonverbally to their stories with an action such as nodding your head or maintaining consistent eye contact.

kary-schaefer-daimler-400x400“Being your authentic self is crucial in order to create a culture of trust and respect in the workplace where everyone feels that they are heard and they are valued,” says Kary Schaefer, Chief Engineer – Product Engineering with Daimler Truck North America and current Chair of WIT’s Board of Directors. “For me, this means being open and vulnerable in my interactions with others. It means practicing empathetic listening, leaving space for others to contribute and knowing my own strengths and weaknesses.”

Share your experiences.

When appropriate, consider sharing your experiences, both personally and professionally. This may help others relate to you or establish your expertise in a certain topic. When sharing your experiences, consider the timing of your story and whether it’s helpful to share it at that moment.

eileen-dabrowski-300x300“While we all ‘perform’ to a certain extent every day at work, I challenge myself every day to stay true to who I am and how I move through the world,” says Eileen Dabrowski, Director of Learning, Development & Marketing for ReedTMS Logistics, a division of Werner Enterprises.  “In various roles we assume daily, I might not share all the pieces of my identity, but I am still authentically me. If I find myself in a situation where I cannot be me, I challenge myself to adjust and pivot; not every opportunity is the right opportunity for me. I trust the people in my life to hold me accountable and pride myself on surrounding myself with humans who inspire me to be the best I can be in that moment.”

Build trust.

As you establish relationships, you may start to trust your colleagues with more personal information. In order for others to reciprocate this trust, actively listen to their stories and build a relationship with them. Often, sharing your authentic personality with them can help them feel comfortable doing the same. This builds trust between you and your coworkers, which can foster a more positive work environment.

Be honest.

Being your authentic self often requires being honest with others. It’s important to share stories about yourself that are true and to share your honest, respectful opinion if an associate asks for it. Being honest also may include setting boundaries. For example, if a coworker asks you something personal that you do not feel comfortable answering, explain that you’re uncomfortable and politely decline to answer. Being honest yet also setting boundaries can help establish your true personality in your workplace.

2023 Speaker-Jennifer Karpus-Romain-300x300“I spent earlier parts of my career trying to fit into the mold I thought people wanted me to be professionally, from covering my tattoos to being careful with my wording,” adds Jennifer Karpus-Romain, Executive Director of the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association (TMSA). “As I grew, I realized the more I was my true self, the more people embraced me and my work, so the person everyone wanted me to be was the person I already was.”

Other ways to be authentic?

New Headshot-Trina Norman 300x300Be proud of your professional accomplishments and the journey ahead of you, says Trina Norman, Operations Manager for UPS, who was named the 2022 Influential Woman in Trucking by WIT. She offers additional suggestions: “Do what matters most to you; see yourself with your own eyes and love yourself unconditionally. Don’t allow obstacles to define you and your level of success. Increase your self-awareness - a key component of behaving and leading authentically is to understand what you care about most. Be deeply aware of your values, priorities, strengths, fears and growth opportunities. Be bold, be unstoppable – you are remarkable!”


A version of this article will be featured in Edition 1 of 2024 in our official magazine, Redefining The Road. Download the latest edition here.

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Topics:LeadershipProfessional DevelopmentRedefining The Road Magazine

About Women In Trucking

The Women In Trucking Association is a non-profit organization with the mission to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the industry.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in articles within the WIT Blog are those of the authors/submitters and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Women In Trucking Association.

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