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Build a positive personal identity

In terms of your working reputation and your relationships, you do not have to be disengaged, an underachiever, or someone who has a stalled career to gain from building a positive personal identity. You could be the hardest worker, a specialist in your field, or the best team player and still need to reinforce a positive identity for yourself. This positive identity can bring about an improvement in your own self-esteem, your reputation and even your performance - whether that is in court, with clients, or at the office.

By using the GIVE model, you can transform the way that you work and how you are seen within your circle, along with clients and competitors alike. GIVE is a model for fostering a positive identity, and was developed by organisational psychologists. It identifies four essential elements that define a positive workplace identity:

  • Growing
  • Integrated
  • Virtuous
  • Esteemed


When you strive to become the person you aspire to be by adapting to your surroundings and developing your skillset over time, through experiences and training, your identity becomes more positive. Aim to be the best possible version of yourself. For others to see this, you need to regularly demonstrate your capabilities. This involves mastering the skills that you need to do a great job, and developing them over time. A mentor or role model can be a good way to show you the characteristics you need to evolve.


This element is all about seizing opportunities to incorporate various identities (a working mother/father, GAA coach, community board member etc.)  into your work. Your identity becomes more positive when you successfully balance and integrate your various identities - the roles, characteristics, interests, and areas of expertise of your personal and professional life.

Joining a group of people who share your characteristics can also show you how to bring your different identities into the workplace. For example, networks for women or LGBTQ groups can provide crucial support for everyone to be themselves at work. Being an authentic person at work allows you to interact with people in a more genuine, connected, and emotionally intelligent way.


Your identity becomes positive when you display helpful qualities and authentic traits. Qualities such as integrity, honesty, generosity and humanity are central to a positive identity. Try to encompass them in to your daily behaviours. Once embraced, work out which positive traits best describe you, spend some time reflecting on your strengths and virtues and identify your unique selling points. Identifying with these positive labels can become self-fulfilling, thus you are more likely to behave in a positive way and feel better about yourself.


Celebrate your successes, it allows your colleagues to see your progress and achievements. Your identity becomes more positive when you and your colleagues hold you in high regard. For example, the solicitor who regularly exceeds their caseload will be held in high esteem by their colleagues who note their professionalism, skill and empathy with clients as positive examples to follow.

A positive self-view is the basis of a positive identity, but be careful not to go overboard. Take care not to boast or be self-indulgent - talking about your achievements in the wrong way certainly will not increase the esteem in which you are held!

Reaping the rewards

Building a positive identity can help you to deal with stress and adversity more effectively. You will be happier, more mentally robust, and better able to develop supportive, high-quality relationship networks. You will also likely be more open to opportunity and to receiving feedback.

When you go into work feeling positive, possibilities and opportunities seem to be everywhere! Having a positive identity, therefore, can help you to be your best possible self and to make decisions and take actions that bring positive results.

Visit the Advice and Tips section of the website for more career management and job seeking advice.