Get Naked at Work

Getting Naked at Work

 You may be very reluctant to do it, you have so many worries about what might happen. You ask yourself What if they hate me because I’m gay? What if they don’t understand my bisexuality? What if my secret dream to be an astro-physicist gets me fired?


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If you pay attention to the people around you. Make smart choices about who to be open with. And, are appropriate about what details you share. None of that will happen.  You spend way too much of your time in the work environment not to be as open as you can be there. The amount of time and energy that you’re expending keeping yourself under wraps is stealing your productivity, and your success.

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Isn’t it easier for you to work with the people that YOU have an honest, personal, relationship with. Don’t those kinds of relationships foster trust and respect? Is it really reasonable for you to expect the people you work with to give you the respect, and opportunities you deserve, if you’ve disrespected them by being insincere?

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The most important secret I can share about being naked at work is: THEY PROBABLY KNOW ALREADY. Seriously, do you really think you’re that good at hiding? These people interact with you on a daily basis. While they’re busy talking about spouses, families, and hobbies what are you doing? Saying that you’re dating women who you never have pictures of. Telling them that you just can’t seem to meet anyone and then resisting when they try to set you up. Pretending that you have no interests outside of work. Trust me whatever you’re doing isn’t working so just take a deep breath and get over yourself. 

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What if that worst case scenario is true? If you really do face being fired or dead-ending your career simply by being honest. Even worse what if your personal safety in the workplace might be compromised? Then, the ONLY strategy you should be contemplating is an EXIT strategy.

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I have a friend who is facing that very issue. He is a young man who works in heavy construction. He spends most of his work time in remote projects in the north surrounded by people who he legitimately believes might threaten him physically if he were to come out. It’s a hard decision but he is slowly coming to realize that he needs to find somewhere where can use his skills, make a living, and be safe being who he really is.

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If you’re in a limiting, or even dangerous, situation, are you staying there because you don’t think you deserve better? Are your guilt and shame keeping you in a job that has no real future for you? You deserve to work in an environment where you can be valued and respected for who you are and what you can contribute.

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Much like with family you need to respect the people you work with and be professional. It is important to share at a level that is appropriate to your existing relationship. It also doesn’t need to be everyone. Start with the people that you’re closest to, the people you have day to day contact with, your boss, employees and key contacts. Take your time and be smart.

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I have a friend who is a very successful businessman. One of the perks of his success is a beautiful yacht. When he was hiring crew. he had a challenge. He’s in an industry that isn’t particularly gay friendly and while he is pretty much out at work by no means does everyone know he’s gay. The boat is mainly used for business events, but is also used for friends, and family. His concern was how to hire staff that could deal with the business use of the boat, but be comfortable around him with his husband and friends. The solution was simple, ask them about how comfortable they would be with a boat full of gay men for a weekend. It wasn’t easy for him to be that open during the interview process, but, he found people that are the right fit for everything the boat is used for. It also let him comfortably ask his friends to be respectful of the crew when they’re on board. He has created an environment that allows everyone to be relaxed and enjoy each other’s company.

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You might be surprised that your openness can actually work in your favour. It will be far easier for people to trust you if you aren’t hiding. You’ll free up all that energy to focus on what needs to get done. You’ll be able to contribute more powerfully. You’ll be able to develop professionally as quickly as possible.

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I remember when I started my last corporate gig. I was working for a company that was really, let’s just say, suburban. People had been there for a long time. Many of them had only experienced  gay men as hair dressers, or maybe distant cousins. At least that’s what they thought. I arrived on the scene with a picture of my partner, and our dogs, on my desk and gave them no option but to deal with it professionally. There were a couple of odd incidents where people asked my staff if they were comfortable with having a gay boss. They were by the way. I always prided myself in open and solid relationships with the people who worked under me.

A few years later we held a department boat cruise as a summer thank you for all our hard work. It was a beautiful July day and I showed up in shorts which wasn’t strange at all. But, it never occurred to me that no one at the office had ever seen the rather extensive tattooing I have on both lower legs. They’re beautiful Hawaiian designs that I got because of a powerful connection to the chants and dance  of the islands. The looks of shock, and uncomfortable conversation, that ensued were priceless. It was way harder for people to deal with the tattoos that it had ever been with my being gay. Why? Because they felt they knew me. I had worked with them for a long time. There was clearly an important side of me that they knew nothing about. They probably wondered what other surprises I might have in store. It all worked out fine. People realized the reason I was spending all my vacation time going to Hawaii.

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If you want respect, support, and opportunity at work you need to build them through being open and honest with the people you work closely with. If that can’t happen where you are now then it’s time to find somewhere that it can.

 

Click here to explore Getting Naked with Strangers

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