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Time for us to be more HUMAN in the modern workplace!

Hard truth: We’ve been living in an un-healthy paradigm of ‘professionalism’ and ‘corporate business’ for too long.

That’s right. It’s time to redefine ‘professionalism’ in the modern workplace!

Emoji’s & Exclamation Marks (a story)

Over 5 years ago when I was in a corporate job, I had a boss that gave me ‘feedback’ but was basically just being critical of some of my emails because I supposedly used too many exclamation marks (!) and happy faces (🙂).

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My boss kept telling me I was being ‘unprofessional’ and that I needed to stop ‘or else’. One time they even told me it was embarrassing. I never knew what the ‘or else’…meant. Would they really fire me for that?

Reflecting back now, I realize how wrong they were. For context: It wasn’t like I had a million emojis and happy faces in every email. When it was a relationship I was building or a group I already knew well I would ‘sprinkle’ a few in. It reflected how I would normally talk to them in real life.Nobody I ever emailed ever complained. In fact I had several comments about brightening their day with my ‘tone’.

However I had to eliminate most of it because of my boss’s insistence and subtle threats.

Professionalism does not mean ‘Robot’

The lack of ability to fully express myself essentially made me feel more robotic and that I had to play the ‘corporate game’ . For some (dare I say for most) this is a terrible feeling. It feels in-authentic and like your true self can’t shine through.

It’s 2021 now. There is no place for this. Sure there is a line between appropriateness given context but we need to stop promoting ‘being professional’ for professional sake. We need to stop thinking of ‘professionalism’ as being serious and robotic and formal at all times. That mentality is no longer needed.

Sure, there may still be a time and a place for it but there is also tons of room for fun and personality and ‘humanness’ to shine through!

Leaders should Promote Realness

Instead, leaders should focus on allowing personalities to shine through in order to enhance the unique culture of the team. Let the fun and quirk shine through in business! 🤪 Let’s encourage team members to be more HUMAN with each other in the workplace so everyone can feel authenticity and joy in the relationships they build (and not just like part of a machine).

3 Ways we can Redefine ‘Professionalism’

Here are some thought starters on how we can start doing just that:

1. Cease and Desist: Step 1: Recognize if you are hindering someone’s true self from coming out simply due to your idea of ‘being professional’ (when it’s really not affecting anything). Step 2: Stop doing that.

2. Lead through Realness: As a leader, admit your mistakes, be real in conversations (you don’t always need to use all the jargon) and try not to ‘play the game’. People respect authenticity. Try it! Bonus: Others will follow along and authenticity will become the norm.

3. More space for ‘downtime’ – Create fun and plan for social time so that people can connect with each other in an authentic way. Allow people to feel like they don’t always have to be ‘on’ so that they can form bonds, feel authentic and carry that over into the workplace.

It’s time to be more human with another. 🤝😀

Are you with me?


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