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Does Authenticity Have A Cost?

How do you define authenticity? How do you bring your full self to the office? We asked associates these questions and their responses were typical, at first. Replies ranged from: Authenticity is synonymous with honesty, courage, and self-acceptance. Authenticity is staying true to your values and the experiences that shaped them. However, for all the positive attributes, an unsettling theme began to emerge. There is a cost to living an authentic life. The cost differs depending upon who you ask, but it’s there. Probing further, we questioned whether the rewards outweighed potential costs, and the answer is a resounding YES.

If that is the case, how do you stay true to your values and foster understanding of different people, experiences, and viewpoints? Our associates offered tips to help the benefits outweigh the cost of authenticity.

What Are The Costs?

The potential costs of being authentic are both universal and specific. For example, associates mentioned the uncomfortable moments that can occur if you are the minority within the majority. These uncomfortable moments happen to us all, regardless of the path we walk or the views we have. However, the experiences we have shape us, and are specific to how we present ourselves to the office and to the world.

Associates also mentioned the emotional cost of unintentionally offending someone, which could make someone hesitant to engage the next time around. Last and most important, the steepest cost of not presenting your authentic self is diminishing the most important relationship -- the one you have with yourself.

Tips To Navigate Costs & Benefits

Bringing your full self to work takes courage but can be eased by an environment that promotes inclusivity. Having said that, an inclusive environment does not mean uncomfortable moments and disagreements will not occur. Listed below are ways our associates present themselves authentically, while respecting the differences of co- workers, managers, and leaders.

  1. Listen to Learn, not Necessarily Agree – When you chat with a co-worker who walks a similar path to you, there is an unspoken comfort. On the opposite side, when you realize a co-worker has divergent views to your own, an initial reaction could be to end the conversation, to avoid tense moments. When this happens, instead of ending the conversation, lean in. Lean in to learn, not to necessarily agree. Intellectual curiosity and empathy can go a long way.
  2. Find your T. Rowe Price family – There are numerous communities at T. Rowe Price -- both official and unofficial. Finding your family can provide the unspoken comfort, but if it’s truly a family, they will also challenge you to go beyond your comfort zone.
  3.  Decide the importance of authenticity in your career – Deciding how much of yourself you want to share in the office is a personal decision. Some associates believe in keeping their work lives separate from their personal lives. Others find it exhausting to hide a part of themselves and have decided the cost of secrecy was a price too high to pay. The decision is yours but know that there are people at the firm that want to know you. The real you.