Let's say you are at a meeting, presenting at a conference, or in a job interview. The conventional advice, 'just be yourself' sounds plausible. It's built on the idea that it's vital to be authentic.
But which you are we talking about?
Is it the grumpy you, the frustrated you, or that part of you that's resentful because your boss turned down your idea? Clearly not.
We have many versions of us. If we are in front of others we must select the version of us that's most appropriate for the occasion. That's in our interests, but it's also in the interests of our colleagues at the meeting, our audience at the presentation or the job recruiters.
Is presenting our best selves less than authentic?
Only if it's false.
Is it an act? In a sense, because it's only a selection from the various versions of us. But it's still us.
And there's something else.
We can use the act to practise cultivating the professional us. We can use it as a benchmark, so we can remind ourselves of the professionalism we showed at the meeting, the conference and the interview and strive to keep being that best version of us.
Just being ourselves has a big downside.
Like the person who throws out tactless personal criticism and says, 'I'm just being honest'.
Or the one who won't change other unsociable behaviour, 'because that's just the way I am'.
Want to be authentic, build rapport with your audience, but still you?
Give away a bit about yourself. Be human. An academic whose work I follow, wrote recently that when he goes through automatic doors he likes to imagine that he is opening them with his mind.
Silly? A bit child-like? Fair enough.
Do you like him more? I do.
Interested in a workshop on emotional Intelligence for your team? (It's about thriving at work.)
What about a workshop on employee engagement? (For your leaders and your teams)
Growth mindset? Think of it as the key to resilience and success.
People and teams with a growth mindset believe that success is the result of effort. They believe that setbacks are learning opportunities.
(People and teams with a fixed mindset believe setbacks are a sign that they don't have the intelligence or talent to succeed - and there's nothing they can do about it.)
To develop a growth mindset in your team and individual employees (or children):
Our knowlege of growth and fixed mindsets is the result of three decades of research by Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University.