Coming out to anyone is a big deal, especially if you’ve never done it before. And although your professional relationships are different from your personal ones, feeling comfortable enough to be open with your co-workers is important. If you’ve been following the #NationalComingOutDay posts on Twitter and Instagram today, you know that it’s National Coming Out Day, an annual holiday created in 1988 to raise awareness for the LGBTQ community.
Whether you’re ready to come out to your co-workers or you just want to learn more about how to do it, here are three things to keep in mind about coming out at work.
Start with your closest co-workers
One of the best ways to ensure that you feel comfortable opening up is to talk to your closest co-workers first. Set up some time to grab lunch or coffee with them (preferably one-on-one) and use this as an opportunity to share more details about your personal life and deepen your existing connections. Having allies among you co-workers will not only make you feel more comfortable about being your authentic self, it will also help you feel supported in the workplace.
Practice what you’re going to say
Talking about sensitive subjects at work can be a bit nerve-wracking so it’s important to figure what you want to say ahead of time and to spend some time practicing. While it’s not necessary to go over each conversation before it happens, having a few things that you want to mention is a great way to ensure that you feel at ease as you start to come out to your co-workers. Not sure where to start? That’s okay too. You can use National Coming Out Day as a way into the conversation and explain why it’s important to you.
Be confident in yourself and stay strong
Being comfortable and confident with who you are is just as important in the workplace as it is in your personal life. One of the best ways to do that is to open up only when you feel comfortable and to do it in a way that gives you control over the situation. Although you can’t predict the outcome of each interaction, trust that your co-workers are going to be supportive and accepting of you who are and that opening up to them will help to strengthen the bonds of your relationships.
Coming out at work (like coming out anywhere) can be intimidating, but it can also be a great way to connect with your co-workers and get them to share more about their own personal lives.