We’ve heard this piece of advice probably several times in our lives, handed out particularly when we meet new people, try to make friends, or perhaps start a new job.
But what does it really mean?
Why are we sometimes scared to be ourselves with other people?
In this article, we will delve into authenticity and sincerity and provide you with how to be more authentic in your interactions.
What does it mean to be authentic?
Authenticity is what it is called when there exists harmony between your values and beliefs and your actions.
One of life’s basic questions is “Who am I?”
From a surface understanding of your identity – answers to questions like “What is my name?”, “Where do I live?”, “Who are my parents?”, or “What are my hobbies?” – we evolve to queries about your true self: “What values do I live by?”, “What do I believe?”, “What kind of person am I becoming?”
Once you’re able to answer those questions, you have a general idea of how you can be more authentic in your interactions.
When we change things about ourselves to fit in and impress others, we become inauthentic or insincere.
For instance, at work, you might have felt some pressure at one time or another to embody your company’s values even if it’s not really “you”. You feel you’ve got to if you want to succeed.
But all this does is create stress.
It may even happen in family situations: you keep your opinions to yourself, and maybe even lie about some aspect of your life to avoid conflict or judgment.
Who we are changes with every situation we find ourselves in: we identify as a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a mother or father, a colleague, a boss, or a friend.
Because of this, you might be in need of tips about how to be more authentic in your interactions.
You may even behave differently in different contexts (e.g., outgoing when with friends, reserved when with family members).
Despite this, we have a true self that we can be faithful to. As for the extent, that depends on you.
Why does it even matter?
In the workplace, transcending hierarchical structures and seeing each other as whole individuals instead of just a cog in the machine can influence how well we perform at work.
But being an authentic person allows team members to share their ideas without fear of getting judged by others.
Meanwhile, in relationships, when we are honest and real with each other, we are authentic.
It is about when you understand that no one’s perfect, but you accept each other, warts and all – building greater intimacy and lessening fear and insecurity.
What are 10 ways to be more authentic in your interactions?
1) Think before you speak or act
Be intentional with your words and actions.
This means thinking about how it could possibly affect the person you’re communicating with.
Whether in a work setting or within a relationship, it’s best to think about how best to communicate a thought or emotion, especially when you’re having some conflict.
Maybe you’ve experienced this in the past, but it doesn’t take a genius to understand that words said in anger can cause hurt to a person, even after the anger fades.
As the saying goes:
“The axe forgets, but the tree remembers.”
2) Be transparent
Another way how to become more authentic in your interactions, is by being transparent. This is highly useful, especially in the workplace.
Transparency refers to openness, to allow people to see the truth, regardless of how they perceive it.
At work, it helps you create trust among your colleagues and your higher-ups when you show them you have nothing to hide. You also make it easier to get to know you and accept you for who you are.
In terms of relationships, just ask yourself: without transparency and the trust that comes with it, how can you ever hope to form a strong bond?
3) Get comfortable saying no and having boundaries
I know very well the anxiety that comes with wanting to please people.
You always want to help or have other people think of you as reliable, or maybe you’re worried that people won’t think you’re a team player.
Setting boundaries and turning down requests when they will affect your mental and physical well-being is another way how to become more authentic in your interactions.
It might feel weird at first, especially if you’re the kind of person who normally takes on more than you can handle – but it will pay off.
4) Practice not taking things personally
Yes, it’s hard when you’re a people pleaser, but when we receive criticism from others, particularly in the work environment, it can be hard to accept without getting our feelings hurt.
Train your mind to accept that you are your own person, with your own unique strengths, but also your own weaknesses.
To become more authentic in your interactions, remind yourself that you can’t adapt to everybody’s expectations of you all the time and that’s completely okay.
The best that you can do is compromise with the person giving you feedback about how you can best meet their needs.
5) When others are speaking, listen
The concept might sound simple, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d had those days when someone is speaking to you and you catch yourself drifting off and going “Sorry, what was that?”
Oher times, part of our brainpower goes to how we will answer this person.
Practice tuning into the person’s tone, and body language, and try to reciprocate that to them.
Doing so makes them feel understood and like they can really open up to you.
6) Try being vulnerable
Showing vulnerability is actually one of the best ways how to be more authentic in your interactions.
When people see that you are willing to share a personal tidbit about yourself that you might not be 100% comfortable sharing with the world, it shows that we trust them.
This makes them more likely to trust us as well.
7) Stay true to your word
It’s not hard to understand why a person whose word can be relied on is an authentic person.
When you keep your promises, when you don’t lead anybody on, and when you honor your commitments, people will know you are honest and genuine. This is one of the best ways to become more authentic in your interactions.
8) Avoid making snap judgments
In everyday life, we don’t even really realize it, we make conclusions about people we interact with, experiences we have, or even what kind of day it is – and we let this influence how we communicate with others.
Pay attention to the thoughts running through our brains that might be preventing us from making meaningful connections with other people.
9) Stand up for what you believe in
Our values are guideposts for the way we want to live our lives. This gives us our why’s in life.
When there is a dissonance between how we act and our values, it affects us negatively in every aspect – relationships, work, and our well-being.
A great way to avoid this is by taking time to ask yourself questions like, “Why do I wake up in the morning?”, “What am I working for?”, “What makes me happy?”
Hopefully, these questions can prompt you to discover your values and your convictions and help you become more authentic in your interactions.
10) Practice mindfulness
As a concept originating from the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness has become more popular than ever.
Mindfulness asks you to ground yourself in the here and now, letting go of your worries for the future, the regrets of the past, and becoming fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surroundings, and just letting them go.
This time for quiet and self-reflection can help you stay on the path and become more authentic in your interactions.
Being yourself is easy in theory, but it’s one of the things that people find challenging.
Authenticity is when we know what we believe in, what kind of person we’re constantly working towards being, or what we consider right and wrong.
Our beliefs and values influence our thoughts, and our thoughts influence the words we say and the things we do.
When you are an authentic person, those you communicate with and deal with on a regular basis are more likely to trust you and be open with you.
But it’s not always easy, is it?
We behave differently when we’re in the presence of others, depending on our role in their lives.
But it’s this that makes it all the more important to become more authentic in your interactions.
Working on being authentic is a never-ending process and you might have your own ways to do it.
However, you’ll never go wrong by being honest, non-judgmental, and mindful in all aspects of your life.