Hiding in a Box

Hiding Behind a Label Or Letting Your Personality Show?


Labels hide our personality. Unless taped to a package with my name and address and delivered to my front door, I don’t like them.

You know, words like:

  • Introvert
  • Extrovert
  • Coach
  • Consultant
  • Techie
  • Etc, Etc, Etc

The Problem With Labels

Labels lead us to tell a story that may not be true. Not sure what I mean? Here are a couple of examples…

  • The self-proclaimed introvert who says, “I’m an introvert I don’t like speaking” (Introverts often make the best presenters. I wrote about this here).
  • Or the “coach” who feels like she can’t branch out and speak or lead a workshop because people will get confused or think she’s not focused (Phooey, who cares what people think. You are more than a “coach” and there is more than 1 way to deliver your message or service.)
  • Or the manager who doesn’t trust his “techie” team to present to clients because of their awkward pauses and wrongly placed humor. Guess what? Techie’s have personality, too.
  • Or the individual giving presentations to grow his business who thinks, “I’m an insurance agent/commercial real estate expert/SEO marketing specialist – my work isn’t interesting.” (Ahem, It’s your job to make it interesting, personality is one way to do that.)

Labels Are a Formality

And formalities stifle us. They keep our full personality stuffed in a box that doesn’t fit, feeling restrained. Restraint is tiring and can be B-O-R-I-N-G.

We, as humans, are multifaceted. That’s what makes us awesome, stand out, and connect in meaningful and natural ways.

This is why…

  • All of my podcasts start with the same question: “What did you want to be when you grew up and how, if at all, does that play out in your work today.” You learn a lot about what makes people who they are.
  • Somedays I love being around lots of people and some days I like alone and quiet time. (Thankfully the term “ambivert” exists, if we must have labels, so I can live happily in the middle.)
  • We tend to gravitate towards people with charisma. An energy we can’t necessarily name yet we feel.

Here’s the thing…

  • Extroverts can be shy
  • Introverts can be expressive
  • Techie’s often have the biggest hearts
  • And lots of coaches shine when facilitating a group

Yet all too often, for a variety of reasons including false beliefs, corporate environments, feedback from others, we hide.

Are Labels Ever Useful?

Yes, they are.

If you’re marketing a business or talking to people at a networking event, folks need to understand what you do. Labels can provide clarity. Make sure you use the label that fits you best. (i.e., I consider myself a facilitator not a coach. Facilitator fits better.)

In addition, knowing, for example, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert can help you understand why you might feel exhausted after a day full of meetings instead of energized. (hint: As an introvert, you may feel exhausted after a day full of meetings. Make sure you have time to recharge, alone.)

The key is to not let the label alone define you or keep you in a box that doesn’t fit.

What About You?

The world needs your whole personality not just one piece.

  • What makes you tick?
  • Which life experiences made you who you are?
  • What labels hold you back?

It’s time to step out of the box that doesn’t fit and leave those labels behind. Better yet, leave them at my front door and I’ll take care of them for you.

Like what you read?

Become a Shed The Formality insider (it's free!) and get insights & inspiration twice-monthly, delivered straight to your inbox. Don't over think it. Sign up today!

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Need a speaker?

Create a meaningful and valuable experience when you hire Stacey to Host, MC or moderate a panel at your upcoming meeting or event.

Consider Sharing

About the blog

Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.


Leave a Comment