9 phrases only genuine people use, according to psychology

How do you recognize when someone is a very authentic person? What kinds of things would they say? And why?

Words are only the first half of someone showing themselves as genuine, but if the actions match what they say, then you know you are with someone who is very much themselves.

Here’s some of my favorite things that genuine people say.

1) “I’m sorry. How can I do better next time?”

We all know that apologizing is a sign of someone who is genuine. Well, if they mean it anyway! Why? Because it shows humility and caring about the person you may have wronged or upset.

But this phrase adds a twist that shows them (hopefully) taking responsibility for their actions, and a wish to be better next time.

This one is inspired by relationship therapist @therapyjeff aka Jeff Guenther who talks a lot about how to show up for a loved one in deep and sincere ways

2) “I’m working on myself”

This is another one that Therapy Jeff would like. In fact, I think just about every psychologist, therapist and person who cares about self development would be pleased to hear.

Yet again it highlights the speaker’s realization that they are not perfect (none of us are, but some people sure act like they are!). And more than that, it implies something about their actions. That they spend time, energy, and effort into making themselves the best version they can be.

3) “I’m here for you”

Fake friends might say this too, but in a crisis, you’ll quickly find out who is genuine. But most people who say this mean it, and will show you that they do afterward, by taking time with you to support you in a loving or caring way.

In an article called “Responsiveness”, Reis and Clark discuss the extent to which people believe that their partners understand, validate, and care for them. They argue that responsiveness is a key component of genuine support in relationships.

Therapy Jeff would surely agree!

4) “I didn’t like it”

So this one is about group thinking. Or rather having the courage in your convictions to say what you really think. It can be very difficult to speak up when everyone is saying something different, but genuine people have the courage.

Do you remember the old story of the Emperor’s New Clothes? Where everyone just pretended the Emperor looked great even though he was actually naked. And then everyone was afraid to speak up because everyone was just agreeing with the other.

Being a sycophant might be a good way to get ahead in life but genuine people don’t bother. 

5) “I’m not sure, but I’ll find out”

This is a great one for the workplace. But it also works well in all spheres of life. 

Firstly we know the speaker doesn’t claim to know everything. And yet again that humbleness shows that this person is true and honest themselves as well as others.

And yet again we see good actions from the statement. Saying “I’ll find out” shows that they care and aren’t simply dismissing your issue, and that they are proactive. It’s a good way to impress people!

6) “I respect your opinion”

Humility is a theme of this whole article, because as Socrates once said “The more I know, the more I realize I know nothing.” Very young people (and older pig-headed people!) can be very genuine but deluded about their own abilities.

As psychological research shows, increased intellectual humility is associated with many positive things including (ironically) gaining more knowledge.

In the end, we will all have many interactions with others who we do not agree with. Those who can turn to us and say that even though they disagree they respect our point of view, are genuine and self-aware.

Respect in general shows someone who cares about being genuine, and this is emphasized by psychologist Carl Rogers who invented person-centered therapy. He prized respect, empathy, genuineness, and what is now called ‘unconditional positive regard’ as a way of approaching his patients.

7) “I’m learning from you”

Socrates loved to learn from his students. And he had a particular method of teaching called the Socratic Method. It’s basically about asking questions and not holding preconceived ideas when you realize they no longer work.

Socrates would begin from a position of assuming he knows nothing, and simply wondering and pondering. He would approach his students with questions such as “What is beauty? Or “What is justice”.

Then he would let conversation flow between the students and challenge his and their assumptions.

While less genuine people may like to pretend they know everything, Socrates wouldn’t have been afraid to say that he was learning from his students, as much, or more than were learning from him.

8) “I trust you”

So this one doesn’t actually prove that someone is genuine (but then nothing here does – as I said, don’t forget to check that words are followed by actions!), but it’s something that genuine people are more likely to say.

There are many reasons that people may have trust issues, but here I’m thinking about people in relationships who don’t trust their partners. Even though there is no reason and the partner reassures them appropriately.

In my experience, those who can’t trust in romantic relationships are often cheaters themselves or don’t trust themselves. And so as we can imagine those who trust a bit more easily are more genuine.

Careful with this one though! Sometimes people have been deeply hurt by someone important in their life and that’s why they find it difficult to trust. Some neurodivergent people also find it harder to trust early on, but when they see actions matching the words, they too will be ready to trust.

9) “I’m here to listen, in a non-judgmental way”

I guess that genuine people can be judgemental. I mean it would show they are honest after all. But someone who is connected to their true and authentic self embodies more. They see the world from a bird’s eye vantage.

Yes, it may be easy to judge an act based on our own particular set of morals, but taking a step back we see how everything is complicated. And most people are just doing their best.

Add in a healthy serving of empathy (Carl Rogers would be proud), and now you’ve got a person who really cares about hearing what you have to say.

They are firm enough in their own beliefs and personhood to not feel challenged by your truth (probably anyway!) And even if they do feel challenged they will put that to one side, and listen to you compassionately, no matter what you have to say.

Mindfulness expert Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn tells us how non-judgmental acceptance is a core principle of mindfulness-based therapies, which have been shown to reduce stress and improve mental health.

People who practice mindfulness are likely to be more genuine as they are more in touch with their own inner world and that of others.

Louisa Lopez

Louisa is writer, wellbeing coach, and world traveler, with a Masters in Social Anthropology. She is fascinated by people, psychology, spirituality and exploring psychedelics for personal growth and healing. She’s passionate about helping people and has been giving empowering advice professionally for over 10 years using the tarot. Louisa loves magical adventures and can often be found on a remote jungle island with her dogs. You can connect with her on Twitter: @StormJewel

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