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As an engineer you might just do your job: collect parameters, requirements, make your calculations and consult your client. You just want to do a good job, and this is great. That can be a sign of authenticity.
I was at an event last week. A man walked up to me and tried to sell me something. I felt pressured and had to defend why I did not want to participate in his business proposal. That felt uncomfortable. I thanked him kindly for his offer, smiled and continued to mingle in the crowd.
I feel comfortable with people who are authentic. There’s a connection, a warm feeling and a trust. I did not experience this at the event. Of course, the man tried to persuade me into buying something from him but his intention did not resonate with me.
Being authentic can help you to convince others (also read: 6+1 strategies to convince others), it can provide you with new opportunities and can also protect you from others and situations.
Are you having difficulties being authentic because you’re afraid of how others will react? Perhaps they’ll laugh at you or walk away! Let me tell you this: some people will.
This article will give you practical and effective steps to be more authentic, to be yourself.
Let me start with this: Try not to be more authentic but be authentic. Authenticity is not playing a cheerful chap, a wise man or showing empathy to reach a certain secret agenda. This way you’re playing a role. Eventually people will find out that you’re “un-authentic”, a fraud. This is a waste of your energy, time and the time of the other person. Whenever you catch yourself being “un-authentic”, take a break, laugh (at yourself), put your “un-authenticity” aside and start over with the steps given below.
So, how to be an authentic engineer?
A first step is to reflect on your life and to figure out what (also read: Benefits of Self-Reflection and ONE exercise to find out what you’re good at or what you need to do (includes a FREE gift)). An exercise might be to make a User Manual for yourself. In this manual you describe yourself, who you are, what you wish to accomplish in life, why you do certain things, what you do and how you do it.
The manual also includes your values, your beliefs, your allergies and your favorite movies. It includes your professional and personal goals.
By knowing yourself you know your strengths and weaknesses. Use and express your character strengths (also read: Discover the power of your character strengths).
Knowing yourself can help you set the bearing on your compass whenever you meet someone or when you get a new career- / business opportunity.
Be true to yourself
People who are authentic are true to themselves and their discipline. Since you know yourself, you know what to do yo achieve your goals. What to do with those irresistible opportunities? Check them to your compass. If they comply to your user manual you can proceed if not, be honest and look for something else. By being true to yourself, you are proud and you’re not playing a role. You’re taking responsibility for your own life.
Next to being true, it’s important to be honest. I told the man at the event that I was not interested and that I did not feel comfortable signing something on the spot. If you’re unhappy at your job, maybe it’s time to look for something else that fits better in your User Manual.
See and acknowledge your weaknesses or faults (also read: 4 tips on how to deal with an embarrassing mistake). So express yourself. Being authentic comes down to being vulnerable. This takes courage and people will appreciate this.
When meeting new people, be present for and with them. Park thoughts of errands you still have to do and refrain from sharing your experiences or ideas. If necessary, ask “can I give you my advice?”. Better is to be silent and listen actively by leaning in and having eye contact (also read: 7 ways to listen better).
It’s about making a connection so that you feel this warmth and trust which I missed so much at the event. Go for the long-term contact. This will ensure a sustainable connection. So give value, attention or…love to others. Because by helping others, you’re helping yourself.
Ask for help
Being authentic also means to be honest and brave enough to ask for help. You are unique but you’re not alone and you are not expected to know it all. I am sure that within your organization and your network there is someone who can help you figure out how to deal with a certain professional or personal problem. Peter Kalishoek said in a recent Podcast “Everybody wants to help…but you must dare to ask”.
How to be authentic at your engineering job?
“This all sounds great but a bit vague, Freek. How do I implement this at work?”.
Focus on possibilities
Being authentic is focusing on possibilities. We tend get stuck in things that are not possible, not explainable or not calculable. Be the engineer and find other possibilities. This might mean that you start over and ask for help..
Be a team player
To be authentic is being a team player. As a team player you work well with others to reach a goal. This means to be open, aware of others, their specialties and their work. You encourage others, keep yourself and other accountable or are open to feedback (also read: Feedback Please!). It means to be aware of the effect of your action to others. Also, you draw from your own experience and those around you. Share your mistakes so others can learn and that you’ll refrain from making them again.
Other ways to be authentic at work
- Be open and consistent
- Ask questions if things are not clear to you (you won’t lose face)
- Be transparent and tell the truth
- Express your true views, thoughts and feelings, and
- Always check (don’t assume everybody understands you).
Take Action now!
Authentic people put in time for personal growth. Start by making your own User Manual. Do you need help with this or finding out your character strengths, your why, your next step or help to communicate better? Contact me!
What does it mean for you to be authentic? What has helped you from this article? Let me know in the comment box below. I look forward to read from you!
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