When a company begins to grow so does its workforce, in most cases. Within CBE, we are welcoming new people as we continue to expand. While some of us are able to adapt easily to new co-workers, there are some who tend to struggle a bit when attempting to connect with others. Most everyone wants to feel a sense of “belonging” in the workplace, although some find it a struggle to try and “fit in.”
In the book “The Gifts of Imperfection,” author Brene Brown discusses the concept of fitting in versus belonging. According to Brown, fitting in is not the same as belonging – in fact, it can get in the way of belonging. “Most of us use the terms fitting in and belonging interchangeably …” Most people are very good at fitting in. We know what to wear, what to talk about, or who to talk with to gain the approval and acceptance of others. When you think about it, this behavior goes all the way back to our childhood. Back in the day, we thought we had to have a particular style or brand of clothing, shoes, or other popular items in order to fit in and gain acceptance with our peers. It was during those early years that many of us learned how to become masters at fitting in.
- Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted.
- Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are! – Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
We all want to feel as if we are a part of something. Feeling uncomfortable or out of place at work can distract us from our tasks, affect our productivity and who needs the extra stress? So, what is the first step toward belonging? It doesn’t matter if you work for a large corporation with a large workforce, or a small business with a handful of employees, the key toward becoming part of the business culture and experiencing inclusion is: Don’t try to impress others to seek acceptance. As the author states, “Belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.” In order to belong, just be yourself, imperfections and all. Says easy, does hard.
A sense of belonging can help make being at work meaningful and enjoyable. It can be great motivation for us to go the extra mile for the good of the company, our coworkers and our customers, as well. Be yourself. Be true to yourself. And know that you’re enough.