If you think being authentic is saying whatever comes into your head, you might be giving people too much information.
Do any of these sound like you?
- “You say to be authentic, but then I get in trouble for saying too much. “
- “I can’t lie to my clients. If we can’t do something, I have to say so.”
- “Trust me. No one wants me to be authentic. “
How can being yourself be so tricky?
An Authenticity Rule of Thumb
I like this three-fold test when I’m deciding whether or not to speak up.
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it useful to the person hearing it?
If it’s true and kind, I’ve taken the blame and judgment out of what I’m about to say. Being kind while speaking the truth shows great compassion. It’s also difficult, because sometimes we just want to let it rip. But being authentic is not an excuse to dump on someone. Keeping it useful is how we avoid that pitfall.
Is what I’m about to say likely to be of any use to the person to whom I am saying it? Authentic speech, even when it is hard to hear, comes from a singular intention: To be of use to the person receiving it. The examples below fall on the continuum from inauthentic speech to way too much information.
It may help to remember perfection isn’t the goal here, being real is. That means there is room for our mistakes, for apologies, for learning and for laughter, however sheepish. The best way to know how you’re doing is to watch the effect your words have on others and adjust accordingly.
Authenticity is a big topic. The comments are open for your ideas, clarifications or questions.