If you’re on the Internet half as much as I am, you see images and posts telling you to always be yourself. Dr. Seuss has one of my favorite quotes for this. “You are you. Now isn’t that pleasant?” While I’m a huge supporter of being yourself and letting your true colors show, sometimes I find that being yourself just isn’t going to cut it.
Before you think that I’m advocating for people to be fake in order to be accepted, let me explain. There are some common situations, especially in the working world, where being yourself just isn’t possible.
I, like many others, am an introvert. What’s an introvert doing in Business? I have no idea. I ask myself that question almost every day. But when you stop to think about it, being an introvert just isn’t possible sometimes. How are you supposed to sell your skills and experiences without being comfortable talking to strangers about them? How are you going to work in teams? What about effective communication skills? (Read: how are you supposed to get a job?) Stopping to think about it, living inside my head just isn’t an option if I want to be successful career-wise.
So I’ve learned to act like an extrovert. I’ve drawn a line between things that I will talk about to everyone (shameless plug – check out my blog) and things that I will only tell my close friends. I know when to laugh and when to shut up. I have a long list of generic questions that can create conversation with others. I have stories to tell. People to see. Things to do.
Now some of you might be thinking, “fight the power!” Yeah, fighting the power is great and all, but in a situation like this, you’re fighting the mindsets of several societies. There is no way that you’re going to convince the entire world of employment that working in teams and effective communication skills are not important. Sometimes, you just need to go right along with the way things are.
Image courtesy of OwenXu via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).