This Is How Many Of Us Are Pretending To Be Someone We're Not At Work

Is it you?
Zorica Nastasic via Getty Images

Working somewhere that feels outside of your comfort zone, like in a very corporate office when you’re a balls-to-the-wall creative type, or in a tech-forward gen-Z space when you’re very business-like can force you to adopt an ‘at work’ persona that feels very separate from how you really are.

And, according to new research, almost one in five UK workers are pretending to be someone they’re not to fit in at work.

The data, from, found that over a fifth believed they’d get more work done if they could express themselves in an authentic way, rather than dedicating mental effort to focusing on hiding their true selves, which could have a knock-on effect on productivity.

Sometimes your persona can depend on the situation or who you have to speak to, and we do all tweak our work personality from time to time depending on what’s appropriate.

A formal meeting requires you to be more professional than a chat at the coffee stop with your work bestie, for example.

According to the research, though, nearly half of us (44%) are making alterations to our personalities because of how we fear we’ll be perceived, with 29% of LGBTQ+ people worrying about what people will think of them if they were their true selves at work.

How to be more yourself at work

So, how to let go of those worries and embrace being yourself more at work? One way to start is to wear something that really channels who you are. Clothes are a huge way we showcase our personalities, and one study even found that your clothing is a “kind of manifestation of the self”.

If you wear a uniform, don’t worry — you might just have to be more creative, like through how you wear your hair or how you style your uniform.

In the corporate world, you can still add some flair and comfort to your look — this TikTokker shows how you can wear casual leggings, but dress them up with a nice top and blazer to make it work-appropriate.

Another way to be yourself more at work is to get more comfortable with people maybe not liking you. We know, it’s a hard one, but you need to let go of some of that anxiety about what people might think of your real personality or humour or style if you want to feel more comfortable at work and maybe just focus more on the people who do relate to what you have to say.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care at all what people think, though — especially when it comes to your boss! — but we’re just saying things don’t always need to be that serious.

Embracing your unique skills and qualities is another great way to showcase who you are at work. Let everyone see what you can offer and why it’s unique to you — it’ll make you an invaluable member of the team and help you feel more secure and comfortable.

For instance, if you’re a Photoshop whizz and your manager needs help with a little graphic design problem, why not offer your assistance, even if it’s not technically your job description? People only know what they know, so if you put yourself out there more, people will start to get a sense of who you are and what your passions are in life.

And the next time a design-focused role comes up at work, maybe your boss will put your forward for it!

With all that said, for many, work is just a place to go and make money and your real life is where you let your sociable side out to play — and that’s okay, too.

Whatever you do, as long as you’re happy, successful and thriving at work, that’s the main thing.