I have to admit that lately, I’ve grown tired of superficiality and materialism in our society.
It seems like people care more about their image than their character.
As though it’s more important to drive a nice car or live in a big house than to treat people with kindness and respect.
I’ve honestly had enough. So today I’ve decided to take some time out to reflect on what it means to be a genuine person.
And I’ve put together a list of 7 key signs to look out for.
This list isn’t my attempt to identify the genuine people in my life. It’s also a set of standards that I want to hold myself to.
Because the truth is that none of us can be genuine all the time. That’s why it’s important that we’re aware of the key signs of genuine people so we can moderate our own behavior and bring more authenticity into our lives.
1) Consistency in words and actions
This is the most important sign of a genuine person.
It’s easy to say the right things.
What’s more difficult is backing up your words with actions.
Recently I joined a coworking club and was getting to know some new people.
One person in particular was quite interesting to me.
We met up for a coffee and seemed to share a lot of values. He had a similar entrepreneurial background and we ended up discussing a potential business partnership.
The thing I liked was that he said he valued honesty in business partnerships more than anything else. I feel exactly the same way.
So we mapped out a potential partnership.
But in the following days, I noticed something quite unsettling.
I noticed that he lied consistently.
For example, I noticed one time his girlfriend called asking where he was. He said that he was in the taxi on the way to visit his parents. The thing is he was still at the coworking place and didn’t seem ready to move.
It was just a small example, but I noticed a few similar things happening over the next few days.
I didn’t say anything, but I decided not to proceed with the business partnership.
He just didn’t seem a genuine person to do business with. Which brings me to the next point…
2) Transparency and honesty in communication
A genuine person is honest and transparent in their communication. They don’t feel the need to sugarcoat the situation or hide from the truth.
With this point, I have to admit that I feel sympathy for people who sugarcoat the truth a bit.
It often comes from the desire to please people.
They want people to be happy around them and have learned they can do this by being a little slippery with the truth.
The thing is that this can make people happy in the short term, but it doesn’t create solid relationships for the long term.
It’s more important to be honest and upfront. People then learn they can trust the words you say.
Just as it’s important to be transparent and honest towards others, it’s crucial to be honest with yourself…
3) Willingness to admit mistakes
When you’re honest with yourself, you’re able to admit your mistakes.
It’s not just about admitting your mistakes to others. It’s about having a real and honest conversation with yourself about what went wrong.
I’m willing to bet that the guy I met at that coworking space finds it very difficult to admit his mistakes.
He most likely lives under the delusion that he’s never wrong.
It’s a real shame as some of the greatest opportunities for personal growth come from admitting your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions.
It doesn’t just come in the world of business and employment. We can also admit our mistakes in our intimate relationships.
I’ve made many mistakes in the past, but admitting them to myself (and to my partners) was the catalyst for learning from them so that they didn’t happen again.
I then had the opportunity to take responsibility for my actions and either repair the relationship, or move on and do better in the next one.
4) Demonstrating empathy and consideration for others
A genuine person isn’t only caring about themselves.
They also demonstrate a genuine sense of empathy for others.
They care about the well-being of others and show this through their consideration and actions.
It’s easy to see this sign in action.
When you are catching up with someone and tell them about what’s been happening in your life, is the other person genuinely listening?
Or do you feel that they are anxiously waiting for a break in the conversation so they can get back to talking about themselves?
Genuine people put themselves in your shoes. And if you’re a genuine person, you do the same for them.
It’s about genuinely caring for others and acting accordingly.
5) Being true to yourself and your values
It’s actually quite difficult to articulate your values, as values are the things that are embedded deep in our belief system (here’s a great exercise that helps you to identify your values).
But an easy way to think about your values is to think about what you stand for in life. What are the things you care deeply about?
Genuine people are often clear about the things they stand for. They know their principles in life.
And they make sure their actions are aligned with their values.
I remember going on a date with someone who was telling me that she really valued respect and kindness.
The thing is that her actions at the restaurant that evening showed me that she did indeed value respect and kindness… but only when respect and kindness were directed at her.
How did I know this?
Because her meal arrived late and she started yelling at the waiter. It was so rude and I was embarrassed to be with her that evening.
She wasn’t true to her values. She wasn’t treating others with kindness and respect.
6) Being open-minded and willing to listen to different perspectives
This is a really big sign of a genuine person.
Genuine people are willing to listen and learn from different perspectives.
They don’t shut down ideas that don’t align with their own.
This is because genuine people have learned to consistently empathise with others.
Because proper empathy isn’t just about offering someone sympathy or care.
It’s about a deeper kind of listening where you really consider the beliefs from which someone’s perspective or experience comes.
Some of my most interesting conversations in life are with people from very different backgrounds to me.
I love to listen and learn about their upbringing, or their hopes and dreams, where they’re headed in life, and then to just think it all through.
It’s a wonderful way to get to know new people.
The key thing is not to assume that your own journey in life is the right way. We’re all on our own journeys, and it’s just a nice thing to appreciate others for the journeys they’re on.
Genuine people are able to do this. They can embrace other perspectives without needing to push their perspectives on others.
7) Being generous with their time, resources and support
Today I’ve been reflecting on the key signs of genuine people.
And I realized that this seventh and final sign is really the key one.
In a superficial and materialist world, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own personal goals.
But genuine people show real concern for others.
They listen with empathy.
They show care with their actions.
When someone is consistently genuine over a long period of time, they start to naturally look for opportunities to help others.
They’re generous not just when it’s convenient for them.
It’s important to note that being generous doesn’t necessarily involve spending a lot of money.
And it doesn’t come from a desire to show off to other people.
Generosity is simply a disposition to take. It’s something that comes from the heart.