Be yourself - unless you're at work

If you put on a front at work – don't worry, it probably won't do you any harm. But it is important to show your true self to your partner if you want to be healthy and happy. This is the finding of Dr Oliver Robinson of the University of Greenwich, Dr Frederick G. Lopez and Katherine Ramos, both of the University of Houston, USA,  presented today (19 April) at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference held at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London (18-19 April 2012).

Some 533 participants (professionals and students) completed questionnaires to assess levels of authentic self-expression - the extent to which people can express their "true" self in relationships at work and with partners, friends and parents. Levels of life satisfaction and well-being were also measured. 

Findings revealed that people were more likely to be authentic with their partners, followed by friends and then parents, but were considerably less likely to show their true self to work colleagues.  Participants who showed their true self to their partners tended to have greater well-being and were more satisfied with life, but those who were authentic at work did not have similar benefits.

Dr Robinson said: "You hear self-help gurus say that the secret to happiness is 'being yourself' or 'expressing your true feelings', but that doesn't seem to apply in the workplace - at least for the sample we studied. So in some circumstances, it may be that a polite smile or tactfully keeping quiet may be more conducive to your well-being than saying what you actually think and feel to work colleagues."