Is our quest for authenticity harming our business relationships?

By CLAIRE MARKWICK

Forming sound, lasting relationships with our team, colleagues, clients and stakeholders is paramount to our success.  Afterall, conflict is no good for business and costs us unnecessary time, heartache stress and often money, to overcome.

As a result, we are seeing a growing trend in the quest for authenticity as a way of better connecting with those around us.  The problem is, interpretation of what it means being authentic is varied; and this is where I see problems arising.

Authenticity is a very common value to see gracing those inspirational posters on the wall and being authentic is considered an important trait in leaders.  But what exactly does it mean to be authentic? 

“Authenticity is defined as not false or copied; genuine; real; representing one’s true nature or beliefs…”

That’s great; but what I have seen, is that many business leaders take this at face value and as a result, may approach a situation with a “this is me and I am not going to change into something I am not” attitude.  There is a fear that behaving differently around different people means we are not being authentic and therefore there is a one size fits all approach starting to form.

This is dangerous because no two people are the same and if we accept that, then we also accept that treating everyone in the same way, means that by default, we will be alienating someone all the time.  Hey presto…we’ve created the melting pot for workplace conflict!

So, what do we do about it?

TOP TIPS FOR BEING AUTHENTIC WITHOUT HARMING RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Have full awareness of self – how we approach situations; how we make decisions; how we process information; how we act under pressure; and how we like to be treated;

2. Have certainty of self – know what we stand for; what is important to us; what our purpose is and what our standards are;

3. Have full awareness of others – develop the skills to recognise in others, what we understand of ourselves;

4. Employ flexibility – with a sound sense of who we are, understand how to make minute adjustments to our unique style to connect with someone else’s uniqueness;

5. Develop an appreciation that authentically connecting with different people is a skill that takes persistence and dedication to make it a natural habit.

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