How to Stay Authentic

Zilvold Coaching & Training Blog Authentic
8 min read

Summary: This article gives you 6 ways to stay authentic. Staying authentic will help you to be more confident, calm, appreciated, successful and happy.

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Products and people who are authentic tend to be more successful. You remember them better, you trust them more and they make you feel good, enthusiastic or happy. I am sure you get this feeling when you think of a certain peanut butter brand or former president. Without naming a brand or name, I am sure you know what and who I am referring to.

This article helps you to find your own authenticity as a professional and to stay authentic. It will help you to be more relaxed, successful, confident and happy.

You recognize when others are authentic when they behave the same in different environments (at work, at home, with friends,…). They make you feel comfortable, appreciated and safe. I am sure that you know people who are like that.

It’s also easy to recognize people who are not authentic. They behave, for example,  different when someone (a manager) walks into the conference room. It is as if their personality suddenly changes! First they were bragging about everything and next they are just nodding and agreeing to whatever the manager is saying. They are two faced, fake, insincere or unfair.

Often it’s difficult to be authentic when you are in unfamiliar situations and you do not know what to do or how to be. This can be the first day at your new job, during an interview or your first (sales)meeting. Do you recognize this? A feeling of anxiousness or uncertainty overwhelms you. Questions like “Are they going to like me?”, “Will they buy my service or product?” or “Am I good enough?” can come to mind.

You can get emotional or stressed and it drains energy. This can also happen when you’re tired, when others expect too much from you or things are not communicated well.

What can you do to stay authentic?

Here are six ways to be authentic in new or uncomfortable situations:

1. Be Present

When you arrive at some event, you’ll probably look for people you know or someone who is looking for a conversation as well. As you begin to talk you’re eyes and mind wanders off: “Hey, is that Mike from accounting? I still want to have a word with him!” or you’re think about what tasks you still have to do this week. Also you might wonder what to say next or what question you should ask next in order to be more “liked”.

Does that sound familiar? Yes? Well, then you’re not really present. The thing is that people can sense it when you’re not really present.

Be present in your conversations and your relationships. That means that you give people your full attention and that you listen actively. Here are 7 ways to listen better.

Being present in any situation is essential if you want to stay authentic.

2. Develop Self-awareness

As you’re entering that room where people are waiting for you, observe the surroundings, the people and how they sit or stand, how they speak or where they are looking to as they are speaking. Be aware of how you feel and where you feel this. I often feel things in my stomach, chest or shoulder. In that case my body tells me to pay extra attention. Perhaps it’s because I am not authentic or that there’s a need to be vulnerable (see below). So be aware when you start to feel uncomfortable but also when things are good and when you’re at ease.

By becoming more aware of yourself you develop the skill to stay more authentic.

3. Make real connections

We, humans, are a social animals. There is something that connects us all. So find out what that is by asking good questions, by listening and checking if you’ve understood well what has been said.

I recently discovered a practical way to make a real connection: As you’re talking to someone, look into their eyes. Notice the color and the shape of the pupil. Perhaps there is a ring around the pupil in a different color. I noticed that when I really look in the eyes of someone else, I am present and there is real connection.

By understanding others and connecting with others you’ll be more likely to be able to express your authentic self.

4. Dare to be vulnerable

Nowadays we think that we need to be successful, liked, happy and that you are perfect at all times. Well, you can’t be perfect all the time. If you would try to be perfect all the time, then you would not be real. You would be playing a role. You can get tired or understand something wrong at times. Admit that you are not perfect all the time. This is a way to show vulnerability.

For some (especially in the professional life) it is difficult to be vulnerable (what will others say…?). You’ll have to have courage to be vulnerable.

By being vulnerable, you’ll get further and it will help you to be and stay more authentic.

“If you really knew me” Exercise

When training a group, I sometimes use the following exercise. It is not created by me and you might want to try it for yourself:

Fill in the blank:

If you really knew me you’d know this: ___________.

This will require some reflection and it will show essential real aspects of yourself. When sharing this with others, it will create a connection, it will build trust and confidence.

For more tips on daring to be vulnerable, read this article.

5. Be Honest

It might feel scary to be vulnerable, especially in uncomfortable situations. What I try to do is to be honest and tell how I feel (scared, tense, pressured or nervous).

Ways to express your feelings:

“I am pretty nervous to get on stage”,

or “I nearly dare not to admit that I prepared the wrong calculations”,

or “I feel tension in this room”,

butt also “This is fun!”.

People will appreciate this. Sometimes it will come as a relieve because they feel uncomfortable as well! Then it is good to know that you’re not alone.

By being honest, you’re being vulnerable and true to yourself.

6. Know your Why

It’s difficult to be authentic if you don’t know who you are, what your values are, what you stand for or let alone if you don’t know why you came out of bed for.

You’re why is your contribution to the world and the effect thereof.

Being aware of your purpose or your why will help you to be more authentic. You will be able to verify every action and every expression with your why. If it doesn’t fit with your why then you’ll be playing a role, you’ll be fake. If it fits with your why then you will be authentic, trusted and respected.

Read this article for more information on how to find your why.

By constantly being aware of one or more of the above mentioned ways, you stay authentic. This results in that others feel appreciated, comfortable and save. And at the same time you’ll be more calm, confident, focused, successful and happy.

What is authenticity to you and how can one stay authentic? Let me know in the comment box below. I, and other readers of this article look forward reading from you!

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Have you seen an error in this article? Let me know! I am grateful!







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