14 lesser-known (but equally admirable) personality traits of an authentic person

In general, most of us don’t like or trust people who strike us as fake or phony. In fact, we’ll go out of our way to avoid dealing with such people. We tend to gravitate to companions who are authentic.

So yes, authenticity is an important characteristic. But what are we referring to when we say someone is authentic?

We measure a person’s authenticity by their integrity, passion, and commitment. A major trait of authenticity is standing up for your beliefs and speaking your truth, even if it’s a tough pill for others to swallow.

Authentic people possess a number of common characteristics like self-awareness and consistency, but they also possess many other admirable, if lesser-known traits.   

1) Self-respect

Because authentic people are honest with themselves and regularly practice self-reflection, they enjoy a healthy level of self-respect.

They won’t compromise their values for one simple reason. If they did, they wouldn’t be able to face themselves in the mirror. Because they respect themselves, authentic people have integrity and hold themselves accountable for their actions, which they value far more than material gain.

2) Simple needs

Materialism doesn’t impress authentic people one whit, and they are perfectly content with very little in the way of possessions. My father, one of the most authentic people I’ve ever known, only owned one pair of shoes at a time and wore them until they fell apart. Drove my mother nuts! 

Authentic people value experiences over material objects. They’re hard workers, but that’s just their nature because money and stuff don’t motivate them.

An authentic person is the proverbial cheap date. You won’t ever feel compelled to buy them expensive gifts. They would prefer to spend time with you just drinking coffee at the kitchen table rather than going out to a fancy restaurant. 

It’s just how authentic people roll. 

3) Good character

Being of good character means you don’t say things you don’t mean, and you don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. You operate from a place of integrity in all areas of your life as a matter of course.

Because authentic people possess these qualities, they are correctly viewed as trustworthy. They are steadfast and reliable, and people admire them because of that. 

4) No external validation is needed

Although admired by others, authentic people don’t require external validation to feel good about themselves. According to Travis Bradberry in Forbes: “Genuine (Authentic) people are who they are. They know that some people will like them, and some will not.  And they are OK with that.”

What a wonderful way to be!

It’s said that ten percent of the people you meet will not like you, end of story. It doesn’t matter what you do. When you finally acknowledge that there’s no good reason to expend energy trying to please everyone, it’s like a weight lifted from your shoulders. 

5) Learns from mistakes

Authentic people are open, and even eager to learn from their mistakes. They embrace the chance to refine their goals when they discover they’ve drifted off course. 

Rather than ignore it, people who are authentic evaluate their errors, appreciate the lessons learned from them, and share their newfound wisdom with others.  

This is just one of the many characteristics of an authentic person that makes them great leaders.

Authentic people are aware that everyone is fighting their own inner battles and may have various ingrained prejudices. They don’t judge others for this but rather see it as a wound that has not healed yet. 

They’re well aware of the aspects about themselves that they don’t like either, but they’re willing to put aside their ego and acknowledge those parts of themselves nevertheless.

6) Takes responsibility

Authentic people never blame others for what happens to them. They’re willing to take personal responsibility for how their actions created a certain outcome, be it good or bad. People who are authentic look at how they influenced each situation and adjust their behavior accordingly.

7) Bucks trends

An authentic person couldn’t be bothered about following the latest trends. They probably know about the newest overpriced smartphone everyone else simply has to have, but they don’t feel compelled to own one. 

It’s not unusual for authentic people to buy used clothing, books, and home goods. Better for the planet, and better for your pocketbook. Genuine people are nothing if not pragmatic.

8) Deep conversations

Authentic people aren’t about meaningless conversations. Small talk about the weather or sports is abhorrent to them. These folks are interested in real conversations so they can connect with you on an emotional level. 

People who are authentic tend to ask probing questions so they can understand others better. Those who prefer to keep their social interactions superficial find genuine people too intense. If you don’t like deep conversations you will probably feel uncomfortable around a genuine person.  

9) Good listeners

If you are conversing with an authentic person, they’ll actually be interested in what you have to say and won’t just pretend to be.  If this wasn’t the case, they wouldn’t waste their time. 

People who are authentic aren’t mentally constructing their reply before you’ve even finished speaking. They are processing and digesting everything you say because they actually care about your feelings and opinions, and that’s rarer than unicorn poop, people.

10) Honest (to a fault)

Because authentic people are unfailingly honest with themselves about who they are and what they want out of life, they are also completely honest with everyone around them. 

People who are genuine don’t ever hold back. They call them like they see them every time. In fact, it’s fair to say they are brutally honest about their feelings and opinions. 

People who are authentic don’t see the need to deceive other people about their intentions because they don’t see the rest of the world as competition. The only thing driving them to reach their goals is themselves.

11) The courage of their convictions

Authentic people remain true to themselves and to their values even when they aren’t popular with the masses. These folks have the courage and conviction to stick to their guns. 

They’ll barely turn a hair even if the entire world tries to shout them down and break them. They don’t succumb to the prison of conformity and march to the beat of their own drum instead. 

Authentic people stand out from the crowd because they refuse to mindlessly do what everyone else thinks they should be doing. They are confident and secure enough to be the unique individual that they really are.

12) Lives in the ‘now’

People who are authentic don’t dwell on their past mistakes. Likewise, they do not spend all day imagining thousands of scenarios about the future either. 

They live in the present moment and take things as they come. Someone who’s authentic understands that life is a day-by-day struggle and we need to make the most of our short time here.

While people who are genuine live in the present, they still plan for their future. They focus on their end game and not on the short-term gains to be made by deceiving, cheating, or stealing from other people. 

So authentic folks wisely invest their time to accrue long-term benefits for the future. Since they know exactly who they are and what they want to achieve, they can devise a plan to achieve their goals in a relatively short amount of time.

13) Motivates others

If you’re lucky enough to know an authentic person, you can probably vouch for their support and encouragement. Genuine people love to root for their family, friends, and co-workers. 

Authentic people enjoy motivating others. They tend to pick up on even the small things people do and are quick to praise them for it. An authentic person’s encouragement is contagious and motivates people to encourage and lift up others more.

They believe in sharing love and kindness indiscriminately and unconditionally. Genuine people inherently understand that we are all connected and are the first to offer a helping hand to anyone in need. 

They realize that by helping others, they are also helping themselves. They encourage other people to voice their own truth (as they themselves do) with loving acceptance as well.

14) Super chill

Authentic people have the priceless ability to laugh at themselves, and at life, without a trace of bitterness or hostility. They never take themselves too seriously. Genuine people understand that no one here gets out alive.

If you’re completely in tune with their strengths, values, and passions there is nothing to fear from outside influences. Since the judgment of others matters so little, it’s easier for an authentic person to laugh when they screw up during a presentation.  

Hiccups that could unhinge someone who’s not grounded are just brief moments of goofiness for an authentic person.  

They also tend to avoid humor that might be hurtful to other people. Laughter at someone else’s expense goes against the empathetic nature of genuine people.

Final thoughts

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  Because living authentically doesn’t just ‘happen,’ it’s a learning process. 

It begins with self-reflection to become aware of who you are.  From a place of heightened self-awareness, you’ll be able to show up as your authentic self in your personal and professional relationships.

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden lives in a New England forest paradise with her cats, kid, and trusty laptop. She has been writing since age 8 and is such a pack rat she can back that up with physical evidence. Music is her solace and words are her drug, so her house is strewn with records and books. Watch your step.

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