A few years ago, I was at a dinner with a client and a few other consultants. We had just completed delivering a successful conference and were celebrating. As the wine bottles emptied, we joked with each other about our different styles of presenting and we laughed and teased in a good-natured way. I laughed so much my cheeks hurt. The next morning, I giggled thinking about the meal and then realized that no one had made fun of me. I was taken aback. Why hadn’t they? I called my client.

“Last night was fun, but I realized no one made fun of me. Why do you think?”
“Rena, I think you’re so comfortable with yourself, you didn’t realize we did!”

She was right. I like my loud laugh, my Hippie MBA approach to business, and my wholehearted commitment to bringing compassion to the work world. It took me years to get here, and I am so here I didn’t even know it. This brings us to my next story.

A client needed to address an issue with her boss. She was anxious that her boss might call her sensitive. We role-played a bit, I was my client (let’s call her R) and she was her boss.

Boss: What did you want to talk about?
R: I was uncomfortable with the way you handled sharing that information. I’d appreciate it if you could do that in private next time.
Boss: You’re so sensitive.
R: Yes. I am.

In that last reply, my tone was no apology, no defensiveness; just statement of fact. My client just looked at me wide eyed and then burst out laughing. “Could I really say that?!” To this I say YES! Say who you are! Own all of you! There’s no benefit to denying your You-ness. And there are tons of benefits to owning your whole self:

  1. It’s freeing. You stop twisting yourself into a pretzel.
  2. You have more time to play the drums or paint or read or row your boat.
  3. Your work quality improves because you stop second guessing yourself.
  4. You laugh more, and cry less.
  5. You have more compassion for others; you can see who is still denying their Self.
  6. You like people more because you can see their whole being.
  7. You see the colors in the trees and the sky and the beauty in this world.
  8. You like your Self.

And here’s an added bonus. The more we embrace who we are, the more comfortable we become with ourselves, the more we can refocus those bosses who want us to be like them. The quiet confidence that my client developed from embracing her sensitivity was a powerful tool. She easily redirected the conversation to work performance and knocked her bosses socks off. He’s never brought up her sensitivity again.