Bring your “whole self” to work. That phrase is all the rage in workplace culture. Companies big and small are using it in job specs and ads. But what does that even mean? It means a lot of new-age idiots are getting suckered into another dumb workplace fad like emotional intelligence and open floor-plans.
The concept implies that employees and companies both benefit when workers are their genuine, authentic selves – flaws, insecurities, vulnerabilities, idiosyncrasies, personal mini-dramas and all. Everyone will be more open and engaged and less constrained and stressed. Cue the group hugs and kumbaya chants.
That is so ludicrous in so many ways I’m not even sure where to start.
The thing is, the workplace is not some hippie group therapy session or reality TV show. Last time I checked, work is where you work. Business is where you do business. You should be focused on doing your job the best way you know how, not sharing intimate details of your personal life or hiding in a safe space.
Besides, there’s a good reason why we have boundaries and choose not to share certain thoughts and feelings with coworkers. Can you imagine what would happen if we removed the restraining bolts from our devious little heads and let our darkest thoughts dictate our actions at work?
I don’t know about you but I’ve definitely had evil thoughts about my bosses, coworkers and employees that should never see the light of day. Even if we could magically do away with our social filters and say or do whatever was on our conscious minds we’d all end up getting fired and possibly locked up for a very long time.
And that’s just for starters. If we ever let our subconscious feelings out into the wild we’re talking creepy Uncle Joe Biden best case or Harvey Weinstein with an unlimited supply of Viagra. Worst case, well, let’s not even go there — it’s too terrifying to consider.
What’s even more ludicrous about this notion is the timing. We live in a culture of thin-skinned snowflakes who get offended if you address them with the wrong pronoun. If you actually said what you were thinking, the PC police would completely lose their shit. The courts would instantly overflow with sexual harassment and hostile workplace suits.
You think #MeToo and toxic masculinity are bad now – there wouldn’t be an executive left standing. Every boardroom on Earth would be a barren wasteland of conference tables and comfy chairs.
Don’t get me wrong. When I worked in the tech industry I was myself. I was about as open and genuine as anyone should be. I said what was on my mind. Had nothing to hide. Goofed around and partied down with my employees, bosses and coworkers. Let my emotions get the better of me sometimes.
But that guy – that direct, honest, authentic, WYSIWYG guy who brought his whole self to work – would not last a day in today’s PC workplace culture. So sure, bring your whole self to work. Just don’t be surprised if it gets you fired.