Do not bring your whole self to work.

Yael Ben-David
3 min readFeb 19, 2024


The movement to “bring your whole self to work” was liberating. It encourages us to be authentic, to bring our hairstyles and head coverings to the workplace; to bring our passion about what matters most to us; to bring honesty about what’s on our mind that may be holding us back. In that sense, it diffuses shame and frees up energy we spent hiding, to re-channel into innovating and thriving.

“Bring your whole self to work” is permission to be vulnerable because without the facade of having all together we make the space for getting it all together. We make space to ask for help and get it and do better and make better everything we touch.

Bringing one’s whole self to work was a Good Thing. But, is is always a good thing?

Should we sometimes leave some of us at home?

One case of Bring You that sounds good but can get messy in the execution is: bring your passion. A lot of what each of us is passionate about can be a trigger for someone else. Take the current conflict in the Middle East. Did you just bristle? I bet you just bristled. Or have been off the grid for 4.5 months. This is a topic people are passionate about. In fact, it’s consuming people, like me who live in the middle of it, taking up more than 70% of my headspace and 80% of my heart space. There is no me without my thoughts and feelings about this conflict so there’s no bringing me to work without it. There’s no bringing me anywhere without it.

But should I bring it to work? I believe that’s a firm No. Bringing that triggering topic into work is not going to be liberating. Is there a cost to me? Absolutely. Silencing the part of my mind and soul that is preoccupied with this topic 24/7 is exhausting. But it is still the right thing to do at work. There is a cost to me but the benefit for the workplace couldn’t be greater.

Sure, there are little ways to open a valve and let some pressure out like confiding in a close peer or compassionate manager in a 1-on-1. But the better solution is to hold it in at work and let it out at home. I believe the original idea of bring your passion was onto something great, but it is not a no holds barred carte blanche to bring any passion anytime in any dose. Bringing passion lightens you, but what does it do to those around you? That matters.

Bringing passion lightens you, but what does it do to those around you? That matters.

What about when work is at home?

Turning your camera on when working from home is vital for effective communication and collaboration, but can it also be invasive? I was on a meeting recently where a participant called out an object in another participant’s background and started asking questions. Totally innocent, genuinely curious, non judgmental questions! But questions about an object in a colleague’s home that they may not have brought to work if work wasn’t at home and may not have wanted to discuss.

So put it away, you say. Well in that case, you didn’t Bring You, right? With a virtual background or a sterile background, we’re doing the same thing physically that we used to do verbally before Bring You was a thing. Bring You means not sterilizing and curating the facade you present to colleagues. Doesn’t it?

In this case I’d say that Bring You means leaving the object in view, but that Bring You etiquette should be not calling it out until the owner of the object mentions it. Just like if I had a passion on my mind, in the workplace I’d mention it first. It would be on me to start the conversation. Let’s do that.

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Why, after benefiting from Bring You myself, do I recommend we stop?

It’s not that I think we stop, I think we regulate. I think that like many great steps forward we’ve gone too far and that by now we’ve reached a place of maturity where we can introduce nuance without losing the ground forward we’ve covered.