What Does Authenticity Look Like?

Seattle skyline seen through myopic lenses represents seeing clearly by being authentic

René Descartes (1596 – 1650) described an authentic person as one who follows a moral inner voice that drives that person to act and think responsibility. But, what exactly does that mean?

What does an authentic person do? How do they act? What do they believe. Being authentic means…

Being Honest
Telling the truth without “spinning” things or withholding information, Telling the truth defuses stressful situations. Managers and co-workers will not go “Greek” and “kill the messenger” who brings bad news if you present it in a tactful, respectful way.

Sharing Information
Information is power and in some organizations, people withhold important information to exert influence or power over others. As co-workers and managers what more information they need about a specific situation.

Asking for Feedback
Don’t wait for your performance review to find out how you can improve your job performance. Ask your manager

Living Your Values on the Job
Review your values and how you live these values. Practice them daily. You may want to write a short affirmation for each value. An affirmation is a statement that expresses a desired situation, that when repeated regularly leads to positive actions that support the statement. For example: “I value compassion and I live it by recognizing and responding to the needs of my customers and co-workers in a caring, respectful and timely manner.

Notice that it is written in the present tense with active verbs – not “I will recognize”; but “ recognizing.” Affirmations help use change our thinking and actions in the present, not at some future time.

Keeping Your Word
If you make a promise, keep it, even if it is an implied promise such as “Let me think about it and I will get back to you.” Acknowledge and apologize when you break a promise and then fix the situation. This builds trust.

Keeping an Open Mind
Do not make assumption. Keep an open mind and give others the benefit of the doubt.

Check You Authenticity
Use the questions in the Your Well-being @ Work Profile to find areas when you can enhance your authenticity. Specifically, look at these statements:

  • I have someone at work that I can talk with confidentially about personal matters.
  • I get along well with my co-workers.
  • I communicate openly and respectfully.
  • I recognize and thank others for their help.
  • I am good at my job.
  • I am dependable; people can count on me to do what I say I will do.
  • I strive to live up to the duties and responsibilities given to me by others.
  • I am proud of the work I do.

Consider this… Remember, like most things in life, being authentic is not a destination but a journey and it is not always an easy one but it is the most satisfying journey you will ever take. Actress and author Shirley MacLaine has some good advice about being authentic:

I think of life itself now as a wonderful play that I’ve written for myself, and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part.

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