Bringing Your Whole Self to Work

By Chris Payne, training consultant, CTAS

Bring your whole self to work. This was a theme for the IPS Conference in 2015 after Dr. Byrd arrived. I listened.

We spend a significant part of our lives with coworkers. At CTAS, we have always referred to our agency as family. It has always been a close-knit group. But I was distant, because I was lying to almost everyone in the agency.

I was given the opportunity to attend the Opening Doors diversity session. It opened my eyes to all of the layers and complexities of diversity. One of the concepts we discussed was covering or hiding parts of your identity to appear more main stream. When the discussion at the IPS conference turned to bringing your whole self to work, I started to identify with the idea.

One of the hardest parts for my journey has been covering by lying to friends and coworkers about myself for fear that I would not be accepted. Once you start, as I did when I came to CTAS a long time ago, it is hard to stop. I had become the fool in my own deception. Most of my coworkers knew, whether I chose to be honest or not, and this strained our relationships.

After the Bring Your Whole Self to Work concept was introduced I made some changes. One by one over the next many months I came out to my closest coworkers. It was something all of them already knew. I gained the opportunity to restructure relationships with coworkers honestly. Many of my coworkers know my husband and attended our wedding last fall.

The most important part of this is about receiving the grace to live your life with honesty. Deception is not natural, we want to share our life and experiences so we can celebrate them with friends. On some level we expect coworkers to be friends.