When getting through your first introduction, don’t make the mistake of becoming too comfortable too soon with the new acquaintance. Be mindful of context. If you have a hobby that reveals a little too much about who you are or a pastime too far removed from the day-to-day office work, take your time before sharing it, even if it’s something you’re very proud and excited about.
There are several aspects of developing your authenticity you need to know and a few cautions as you embark on your journey. To build your authenticity, ask yourself, “How did I get to become the person I am now?” This soul-searching question will focus you to think of your roots, the values that define you, and your personal story. This reflection may include your life experiences, upbringing, and family history. Yes, it’s likely to be time-consuming and anything but easy, but the effort will bring you closer to your true self.
Be sincere and honest in your words and actions.
Your personal integrity should be evident to all, demonstrate empathy, a combination of factors unique to every person, a mix that reflects their inner self and exudes confidence and trust in others. Seek genuine feedback from trusted sources, personal and professional. In the workplace, you may have 360 feedback reviews that help you gather information and materials for personal development. Personally, you may ask your close friends and family to share a few words that they feel describe you. Since authenticity is what others see in you, be sure to know what those impressions are and take them seriously, even if they’re not flattering. Engage in personal and professional development activities and trainings that push you towards self-reflection.
As award renowned author and speaker Stephen Covey talked about, these are the non-urgent but important activities in life. These development opportunities will help you grow closer to your authentic self. Save the stories. As you travel through life’s defining moments, take note of the moments and people that defined who you are today. Was it a childhood event, a lesson from a family mentor, or a memorable experience? Try to identify what value this experience strengthened.
Make it relevant to what your current context is and be ready to recite it when someone says to you, “What defined the person you are today?” After you do your homework in developing your authenticity road map and start to share your true self with everyone around you, keep a few red flags in mind. Avoid sharing too much information. Authenticity involves self-disclosure, but be mindful. Read the external cues your audience is providing you.
If you’re new to your career and a junior member of your staff, you want to withhold sharing too much. Unfortunately, age matters in some organizations, and you don’t want your weekend activities to dampen your professional credibility.
Consider culture. Young or old, be aware of culture.
In some high face-saving cultures such as Asian ones, sharing personal stories and anecdotes may make you seem less credible. On the contrary, in other relationship-based cultures such as Mediterranean ones, if you don’t disclose anything about your personal life, you may come across as being distant and aloof.
Speakers that overthink gestures, pauses, and body movements come across as being inauthentic. Being your shoes-off self should come naturally to you like driving a car or brushing your teeth. If it’s too much of a mental effort, it will come across as being fake. If you wanna build your credibility, do your homework and watch for the red flags. Authenticity is about reading a situation and sharing enough of yourself while always being consistent and memorable.