8 ways to spot authenticity in others (and yourself)

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

How can you tell who’s being for real and who’s not?

Authenticity is crucial in yourself and in others. 

Here’s how to tell the genuine from the fake…

1) Consistency

The first of the important ways to spot authenticity in others (and yourself) is consistency. 

Genuine people don’t shift with the sands. 

They stick to their beliefs and habits and they’re the same person in every context.

If you meet somebody who swears he’s a vegetarian out on a date with you and then find out he was just trying to impress or ally with you due to your own avoidance of meat, that’s the opposite of genuine. 

If he was authentic he would still be a meat eater even if he’s out on a date with the world’s most committed vegan activist. 

If you meet somebody who’s genuine then they will let you know exactly who they are and what they care about. 

Next time you meet them it will be the same. 

You or they don’t change who you are based on the circumstance or an agenda. 

You’re true to yourself and you’re honest about that with others, and vice versa.  

2) Cogency 

Next up in the key ways to spot authenticity in others (and yourself) is cogency. 

This means how clear and understandable somebody makes themselves and their desires.

We all have layers and inner paradoxes, but a genuine person isn’t trying to hide who they are or what they care about or want. 

They are cogent, clear and straightforward

If you want to talk to a beautiful woman in line at the bank you simply say “hi, how are you?” with a flirtatious smile, instead of pretending you have a roundabout question about a road closure in the area and she’s the first person you happened to think of asking (come on, man). 

The same goes when it comes to negative or other potentially awkward interactions… 

If you didn’t like a meal at the restaurant where you just ate you tactfully let the waiter know that you appreciate their fine service but the meal wasn’t your favorite. 

Life’s too short to be fake

3) Clarity of purpose

Another of the crucial ways to spot authenticity in others (and yourself) is clarity of purpose. 

Authentic people put time into finding out their mission in life

They’re able to be clear about who they are and what they want, because they have an overall roadmap for where they hope to end up. 

As opposed to those who just “go with the flow” or change their standards by context, the authentic individual has much more certainty about who they are. 

The reason is that they have a bigger purpose than the day to day, a purpose which guides their behavior and actions.

If you’re interested in finding your purpose I especially recommend checking out the Find Your Purpose masterclass from Justin Brown, which I found extremely helpful in getting clear on the purpose of my life.

Check out the free video here.

4) Conditionality 

The next of the ways to spot authenticity in others (and yourself) is to watch out for conditionality. 

This means to watch out for “if…then” conditional relationships and arrangements, because they can be a sign of a glaring lack of authenticity

“If you give me sex, then I’ll be in a relationship with you.”

“If I provide you money, then you’d better do what I say and make me feel emotionally reassured.”

“If you buy a product in my shop then I’ll be your new friend, but if not…? Well, you can just get lost and stop wasting my time.”

Here’s the thing: 

Many situations and interactions in life are quite conditional. But the more conditional they are, the less deeply meaningful they are and the more potential they have to make us cynical and lose hope in humanity. 

That’s because the most authentic things in life don’t come with conditions. They’re unconditional. 

A mother doesn’t say “if my daughter marries someone I like then I’ll continue to love her.”

She just loves her daughter, even if that daughter does marry a guy the mom finds reprehensible. 

Another classic example? The typical “nice guy” who is behaving pleasantly and never showing his temper or dark side because he believes this is more attractive. 

“I deserve to have the hottest girls after me,” he complains after being rejected…

Yet it’s this performative nice guy who’s not being authentic and mainly being nice to achieve a desired effect rather than just be himself. 

Indeed… 

The most worrisome signs of fakeness often center around transactionalism and conditionality. 

If you or others are only being nice or being a certain way to get or achieve a certain outcome or impression, you’re being fake. 

5) Refusal to chase happiness through materialism

Speaking of transactionalism and wanting to “get” things

Another of the crucial ways to spot authenticity in others (and yourself) is the rejection of materialism. 

Let me be clear:

This doesn’t mean you or others reject the need for outer prosperity, a comfortable living space and markers of external success. 

What it means is that you don’t depend on any of those things, or even relationships and outer social life to make your life worthwhile or make you feel a sense of value about yourself. 

6) Real-world follow through

We live in a world where many people’s reputation is built on social media and clicks. 

Many people show their best side in their social media stories or their sound bytes. 

But does their shiny personality follow through to the real world?

One of the top ways to spot authenticity in others (and yourself) is looking for maximum correlation between the online and offline self. 

In other words: 

An authentic individual has no real difference between who they are on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit or their text messages and who they are in real, technicolor three-dimensional life. 

7) Willingness to be disliked 

Authentic people don’t need to be popular or widely recognized. 

One of the best ways to spot authenticity in others (and yourself) is that you’re willing to be disliked. 

You don’t crave it and you certainly don’t have a martyr complex

Yet at the same time, if your beliefs and your life rubs some people the wrong way, it’s not going to keep you up at night. 

You’re willing to be disliked if that’s the price of being true to yourself and your mission. 

Simple as that. 

8) Honesty about faults and mistakes 

Last up in the crucial ways to spot authenticity in others (and yourself) is honesty about mistakes and faults. 

The authentic individual is always willing to improve, learn and engage in self-reflection. 

He or she has ditched the need to be “right” all the time or be a “good” person. 

Instead, a genuine person strives to focus more on what they do and the real-world impact of their actions. 

They strive to acknowledge what they’ve done wrong and where they fall short, for the simple reason that none of us get better without first admitting what we could do better. 

It means that we try to see life less as a contest and more as a collaboration. 

What it means is that you live life with maximum impact and minimum ego

True blue

Being authentic is all about letting your purpose shine through and focusing more on what you want to do than on what others think of you.

The authentic individual doesn’t focus on appearances. 

He or she focuses on inner integrity and a core drive. 

He or she focuses on goals, values and real accomplishments. 

He or she focuses on making a difference in the world and in the lives of others, not racking up popularity points or following every trend that pops up. 

The true blue genuine individual isn’t trying to be authentic at all; they’ve just shed every deceptive snakeskin of deception that some stay wrapped up in. 

Why?

Because it’s much more satisfying and empowering to walk around in their own skin instead. 

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

20 signs you’re wise (even if you don’t realize it)

The key to happiness: 10 habits of highly content people