Being Authentic means Keeping it Real – so why has the word “authentic” become so Marmite to some people?
I (Beverly) was in a meeting before Christmas and the “A” word was mentioned. A number of people around the table grimaced, and one person said:
I hate that word “authentic”. It’s the new buzzword and what does it mean anyway?
Well it means being real or genuine, and in this context it meant being authentic to build trust.
By being authentic people will get to know you and trust you, then ultimately buy your services or want to work with you.
A few things happened that day around our meeting table that led me to thinking.
Why has being Authentic become so Marmite?
Is it because those who love it understand what it means? Or is it those who hate it don’t understand it? Or should we just say what we mean and lose the jargon! I’d vote for the latter! It strikes me it’s a mix of all those things.
- People don’t understand what being authentic means.
- Being authentic means different things to each of us.
- It’s the buzzword of the moment so we’re all expected to jump on the bandwagon, therefore, we resent it.
The truth is being real and true to ourselves is important whether it’s in the workplace, in business or in personal relationships.
People can tell if we’re not being true to ourselves. This leads to us not connecting or being unable to trust the person in front of us. Often we say “there’s something missing” or “something not quite ringing true” about the person.
Being Authentic Means Keeping It Real!
As I said I’m writing this following a number of recent events:
- A talk at Chris Duckers’ Youpreneur Summit about showing the whole you in order to connect with your audience;
- A group of local businesses coming together to share the learning from Youpreneur Summit, and our response to the above mentioned talk; and
- The advice given during that talk and our support and advice to a fellow business owner.
A talk about showing the “whole you” in order to connect with your audience
The core message to takeaway from this talk was “show your real self in order to make a connection”. The speaker (I’m not going to say who, as we ended up being critical of the content) shared examples of one client broadcasting in the shower, and their love of dancing. Apparently this speaker posts a lot of videos showing their behind the scenes dancing.
That’s great to tell us a little about them, however, it’s not being completely authentic. May be they were just poor examples to illustrate keeping it real.
The core message was to be yourself in order to connect with those around you, or in business, your audience. It’s great advice.
Sharing the learning and our response to the above mentioned talk
When our group reached the above mentioned talk in our debrief, the consensus seemed to be we hadn’t gained much from the content. We got what the speaker was trying to say “be authentic” “be you”, but the examples didn’t demonstrate what that means. The speakers message was valid and important because people buy into people and need to feel connected in order to trust and build rapport.
This got me thinking. Why did we all feel the same way about the talk?
The examples didn’t illustrate the point. It was advice not guidance. It’s one thing to tell people WHAT to do but when the HOW is missing it becomes meaningless confusion.
The WHAT was be real, be you, be authentic
The WHY was to make a connection in order to build trust
The HOW, now that is a massive area. The how is to know and understand yourself. It is to find your true voice. To find your true voice is to fully understand your motivation, feelings, values and behaviours (how your behaviour impacts on others), how others react to you, and how you feel about the responses you get. It’s about being self aware.
Knowing yourself so that you are confident to put out the real you.
As I said it’s a massive area. What I’ve described in the HOW, above, is exactly what the speaker did. I’ve described the HOW as a WHAT!
It’s a list of ingredients without the method!
I’ll come back to the method.
Support and advice to a fellow business owner
The purpose of our meeting was to do a Youpreneur Summit debrief – our key takeaways and what action we would take in our own business.
We’re a supportive group in the North East. Everything in that session was said and done with good intention. However, we found ourselves giving advice in our own voice. Advising one of our business colleagues to take action we would take, to behave in a way we’re comfortable. On reflection we lost sight of the person in front of us. Our well meaning advice was in our own image, not an approach that would suit our business colleague.
My takeaway – we often lose sight of the person in front of us and, well meaning as it was, the advice reflected our way of doing things. This is where confidence and self awareness comes in – they would allow us to say “that wouldn’t work for me” or “I wouldn’t be comfortable with that”.
I hope you can see how people can feel bullied from time to time when people “push” views or perceived instructions on them. Likewise bullies can take advantage of self understanding and confidence issues.
Back to the Method …
So what did I mean in my HOW above:
WHAT – Become self aware
WHY – To understand yourself in order to be confident in your relationships and connections with others.
HOW – For some it’s easy, they have a natural self awareness. For those it’s just making sense of what’s important, who complements them, natural alliances, etc.
Others need to work through the things they perhaps don’t understand or confuse them. Strategies that once worked perhaps no longer have the same impact. Repeating cycles that are unwanted. This relies on good feedback and mentoring, and a preparedness to listen, hear and work on the areas of personal development.
Personal development requires commitment to hearing feedback, peeling away the layers that make you unique, and being confident in your uniqueness. In our mission to become self aware we sometimes have to face our demons. As I often say:
Honesty brings Confidence.
Our ability to be honest with ourselves allows us to be confident in ourselves.
I remember a time some years ago when I lost sense of who is was. I’d been trying to please, attempting to fit in, and in the process lost my identity.
The HOW is different for everyone. All I can say is working with someone to (re)connect with yourself and understanding the REAL you brings confidence, an ability to connect, and differentiate you or your business. We can then be that Marmite Authentic!