Should you be free to express your individuality at work and, if so, how and to what extent? For example, should you be able to wear anything you want and say whatever you please regardless of what others think? Some people believe you have to be yourself at work and if that means others will think poorly of you or will be offended, that's their problem, not yours. They feel that expecting someone to be anything other than their true self amounts to nothing less than censorship.
You're Wearing That?!
Let's say one of the ways you express yourself is through your physical style. You like to dress in a way that some people might consider inappropriate for the workplace. Doing this can send the wrong message to your coworkers, boss and customers, depending on your occupation and your work environment. It may cause people to think you don't take your job seriously regardless of the quality of your job performance. This may sound quite unfair but whether it is or isn't is really relevant. The fact is, people are judgmental and their opinions of you are often influenced by things that you might consider superficial.
If expressing yourself through your clothing style is very important to you, rather than bristling under the restrictions of what you may think of as a conservative work environment, perhaps you should instead look for a job that allows you to wear the type of attire you desire. It is in fact one of the factors you should consider when you choose an occupation or a place of employment.
Some types of clothing are inappropriate for certain work environments and occupations but are perfectly fine in others. An associate in an accounting firm wearing a tank top that shows off his tattoos would stand out like a sore thumb, but a graphic artist working in an advertising agency who dresses similarly would probably fit right in. Conversely someone wearing a nice rolex watch
wouldn't stand in in an accounting setting but may stand out in others.
You Said What?!
Some people rather than, or in addition to, expressing themselves through their style, do so through their use of language—make that colorful language. They really don't like censoring the words that come out of their mouths and therefore end up saying things that perhaps shouldn't be uttered in what is sometimes referred to as "polite company." They let the f-bombs fly regardless of where they might land. People often form negative opinions about others who pepper their speech with profanity. They may think it shows a lack professionalism. While that may be very far from the truth, it is very difficult to alter someone's impression.
Even if you don't care what people think of you, you should care about how you make them feel. Although foul language has become commonplace in today's society, some people still find it offensive. What should you do if one of your coworkers is put off by your regular use of foul language? If your language offends even one co-worker, it's probably a good idea to clean it up. In social situations, one can choose to stay away from someone who uses foul language but at work your coworkers are a captive audience. You may be protected by freedom of speech laws, but that doesn't make it okay to annoy your coworkers.