Bring your whole self to work… and win

compartmentalization

Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to compartmentalize, especially at the office. We separate our professional lives from our personal lives. Somehow, somewhere we learned that being a professional meant leaving our personal lives at home as soon as we step into the office. We have work “friends” and personal friends and the two don’t interact. We don’t display personal items at the office and avoid discussing our personal life with coworkers. In fact, we secretively look down upon those who “share too much”.

It may be worth considering that not only we are wrong but are also being counterproductive. Your success at compartmentalizing may actually be hurting your career.

A progressing career depends less on your individual performance and more on your relationships. In order to form effective relationships, you must form emotional ties with those you work with. Emotional ties have a deep impact on your career. The first step to doing this is to shed the idea of compartmentalizing.

It simply doesn’t work.

The problem with compartmentalizing is that you restrict your manager and coworkers to seeing you only in a one dimensional light. By leaving part of you at home, you’re not your whole self at the office. As a result, your relationship with your managers and coworkers is superficial at best.  This means that the people who can influence the course of your career are making their decisions about you based on a limited, superficial view of you.

But you are not one dimensional. You’re not a robot. You are a multi-dimensional person with skills, hobbies and traits that go beyond your ability to perform at work. By giving your coworkers an opportunity to see your whole self along with its complexities, you “let them in” and by doing so, you will form ties that transcends the workplace.

Successful people don’t separate work life from home life. Instead, they seamlessly merge the two together. They become friends with those they work with and work for. They make dinner plans and invite each other to summer barbecues. They let their kids hang out together and they form deep relationships that go beyond the office and also long lasting. And they use these emotional connections to influence those who can impact their career.

They say that important business decisions are made on the golf course. What they don’t say is that decisions on promotions and career paths of employees are also made outside the office. By the time you’re sitting in a conference room ready to talk through a business decision or in your boss’s office to discuss your career, you’ve already missed the conversation.

When your work and life become one, you succeed.

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