Each of us have our own path in life. And in the end our own histories and our life stories make us who we are. Our superhero Terhi is a firm believer in not hiding these stories, but emphasizing them — not only in our personal lives, but in our work lives as well. In her opinion, our stories make us who we are. That is why it is fitting that her communications work with Lassila & Tikanoja includes telling stories about other people.

How can you be yourself? That is a question we all consider from time to time. Even though we have all heard phrases like, “It’s always a good idea to be yourself, because everybody else is taken”, or, “Trying to be someone other than who you are doesn’t usually get you very far”, we are often stuck with the thought, “Is it truly ok to be me — especially in a professional environment?”. That is why we Okimonians were more than pleased when Terhi Leiniö, a Communications Specialist from Lassila & Tikanoja, came to share her thoughts in our weekly Okimo Pause lunch.

Be your own story

When you accept yourself, along with the ups and downs of your life, something happens. It makes you more humane and — as Terhi found out — more capable of doing your job. That is why the biggest piece of advice Terhi had for us was, “Be your own story!”.

Everyone has a story that is worth telling and sharing. Also, everyone should be proud of their own story, no matter what it is. For example, I have always been open about growing up in a working-class family. My dad was a small business owner in construction and my mom worked for the City in a low-paid job. At my current work in L&T, my background helps me to understand the working mother doing a cleaning job. Because of my past I am capable of putting myself in her shoes”, Terhi reveals.

Other people might think that their personal life has nothing to do with their work life, but according to Terhi, they couldn’t be more wrong. People might often hide their true selves at work because they feel that they wouldn’t fit there otherwise — someone might think their background is too different or that their personal story simply doesn’t have anything to do with their job.

In the end, work is a part of my story, and my experience in life just makes my work life richer. I feel that if you give 110% of yourself every time you do something, you always get it back. I am grateful that I have been able to be myself in all of my workplaces, even though I sometimes take a lot of room with my personality. All my supervisors and colleagues have been different, and they taught me a great deal of things about working life”, she explains.

A big part of telling stories is getting people to open up

Being open and genuine is a valued trait in communications because it not only makes you a pleasant working mate — it also makes people open up to you. When you are open and receptive, people connect with you and trust you more easily. In the end, you have to be able to open up in order to have good stories.

Since forever, I have had a gift for connecting with people”, Terhi admits. “It can happen even in the smallest encounters. For instance once, I was walking my dog in the evening, and I met another dog owner, who I had never seen before, and at that moment she shared that her child had died in an accident a little while ago. It might sound weird, but these kind of things happen all the time to me. Sometimes the things I hear can be pretty rough, but I always take it as an honour that people want to share things with me”.

Finding your own path is not always easy

Being yourself provides many benefits in life, but you also have to learn that not everyone will always like you and you won’t always fit into every situation. For Terhi, this took almost 30 years to fully understand.

Being bullied in primary school made Terhi think about herself at a very early age. It was a rough path that affected her life for many years after. But sometimes she thinks that she most likely wouldn’t know herself — and all her strengths and weaknesses — so fully without her experiences.

In life, you get to places that you are not the most comfortable in. For example these days, that might be a fine dinner party for me”, Terhi notes. “I would most likely be the person who doesn’t know which fork to use, but instead of trying to cover it, I would make it a small talk topic, or perhaps tell a story about it too”.

She thinks for a while and continues:

As a Communications Specialist, I write and order stories on a daily basis, so maybe that is why I want to believe that people are made of stories as well”, Terhi concludes with a smile.