Sometimes, we behave differently when we are in a particular social context and that is not a problem if your anchor (who you are) is well defined. It is the definition of who you are that will help your behaviour in each of those Places. Identity consolidation occurs when who you are in each of those places complements your other selves. It is safe to say that our identity is a proposition. It’s a summation of who everyone around us has said we are right from the time we were born. Sometimes we can forget this and feel trapped, struggling to meet those expectations. But understanding that we are much larger than who we are told we are, frees us from those mental limitations and makes seemingly impossible new life paths possible.
One of the many struggles I experienced while growing up was trying to determine my sense of identity. I had poor self-esteem and I always looked out for external validation. I was a people-pleaser and I never found any sense of purpose. I remember looking at my mates back then when they would emphatically define what future they saw for themselves but I could not see anything about mine. I was boxed into different things by different people because they did not get to meet the real me. I found out that when I was with introverts, I behaved like one and when I was with the extroverts, I became one. I did things expected of me simply because they were expected. It was difficult for anyone to know me because I did not even know myself. The danger of living life this way is that you become unfulfilled with no sense of purpose or direction. That’s a terrible way to live life, don’t you agree?
The home is the first building block for any human. The reason we all agree with the quote, “charity begins at home” is because we know that the foundational blocks for the moral compass, self-esteem, and identity of anyone are first developed at home. We are all a compendium of our growing up experiences. You are suspicious of that colleague at work because when you were younger, mommy told the 4-year-old you to go back inside to put on your shoes so that you can both go out but when you returned in your shoes, she had gone. Trust was damaged from very little so you go around with suspicion. If you take a deep breath and look inward, you will find out that certain thought patterns you possess today are contingent on your home experiences. It is no surprise therefore when David Richo, a renowned American psychotherapist said, “the untreated traumas of childhood become the frustrating dramas of adulthood.” If parents are not deliberate in helping their children cultivate a healthy identity, these children will grow up using external factors like their work, their class, etc in defining who they are. When these things are taken from them, they lose themselves.
The importance of Workplace Identity is undeniable as it acts as an anchor for fostering a sense of attachment to the workplace. Furthermore, it correlates with a variety of work-based constructs, such as influential leadership, collaborative learning, work values, group identification and commitment among others. WI helps you develop a solid work ethic that can help distinguish you from the pack. It is, however, important that you must be able to identify your holistic sense of identity not just your workplace identity — which is but a segmented aspect of your full self. To do this, you must be able to answer the question “who am I?” without restricting it solely to your work role.
No employer starts out wanting to create a toxic work environment especially because many managers are now aware that the emotional state of their employees determines how well they will commit to the organization and this is a direct indicator of productivity. However, when certain emotional cues are not taken into consideration, the possibility of creating a toxic workplace environment can soar, albeit unintentionally. It is why we offer our signature product, Workplace Emotions™ to reduce this possibility. I have personally worked in a toxic work environment where the boss was a machiavellian narcissist. It was no surprise though, that the organization became so toxic that employees left en masse until the company eventually collapsed. I have, however, also observed, by virtue of the work I do, that some Bosses are well-meaning and genuinely love their employees but they miss out on the emotional cues that could have helped them identify employee dissatisfaction and nip emotional toxicity in the bud.