Get Real: Authenticity and Merging Personality & Professional Life

So much research has indicated that in this new world of online relationship building, authenticity is one of the top ingredients in any recipe of success.

Being authentic means being honest and genuine, which then makes people (prospects, peers, clients) trust you naturally. People respond to people who feel “real” to them. Nobody likes a phony, and people get nervous and mistrustful when they can’t “read” a person. If people read you as authentic, they will trust you, value you, and look to you for leadership and guidance.

Authenticity is about how you conduct yourself, how you treat others, and the way you work and fit in to your corporate culture. It’s not about being “too nice’ or insincere; it’s about being real. I read that authenticity can be broken down into these five qualities:

Confidence + Self-awareness + Transparency + Consistency = Authenticity

In other words, authenticity is about establishing and showing an honest and consistent alignment between your personality, your words, and your actions. Much like other personal and professional skills, authenticity can be developed. Here are five ways to develop your authenticity:

1. Be honest. This does not mean you can be rude or disrespectful. You can be honest and still be respectful, diplomatic, and professional. The key is to express yourself well and use kind, constructive, and inclusive language when you speak.

2. Engage in active listening. Part of being authentic means you care about more than just yourself, so it is important to engage other people. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Ask questions. Practice reflective listening. Really listen to what they tell you. Resist the temptation to talk about yourself.

3. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Treating other people well is the surest sign of someone who is confident, collected, and genuine. Be gracious, polite, and respectful to everyone, from the janitor to the vice president, from the secretaries to the baristas, from your co-workers to the garage attendants. The real test is to view the way you treat people who can do nothing for you.

4. Take a personality test. Becoming more aware of yourself, how you operate in the world, how you behave, and how you impact people is the key to using your authentic self in business. A good way to learn about yourself is to take a personality test like the Meyers-Briggs. That test and others like it are an excellent tool for self-awareness, as long as you get the proper training around the assessment. Make sure a professional is able to go over the results with you so you can understand and use the information properly.

5. Look at others. Studying traits of successful but authentic business people is also a good way to understand what being real looks like. How do these folks approach life and work? Are they passionate about what they do? Are they consistent in what they say and what they do? Do they have confidence is being themselves even if nobody else does things their way? Do they integrate their personal qualities into their work life? It’s a sense we have about someone which tells us if they’re an authentic person or not.

Being authentic means you are honest and real. It means you are trusted and counted on. And it is so important to your success in modern business.