Spotting inauthentic communicators

It is sad but true – some people are good at pulling the wool over the eyes of others, and many get away with it for a very long time before being caught out. And while it is possible – in the words of the old saying – to fool some of the people some of the time, it is usually very difficult to fool all of the people all of the time. How can you tell? Lack of authenticity is likely to “leak out”, particularly when emotions run high or the situation is stressful. The tell-tale signs are to be found in inappropriate word choice or non-verbal signals that indicate what is really going on in someone’s mind. Here are some signs you can watch for. Many of us are instinctively alerted by them without needing to raise our conscious awareness. Taken individually, they may mean very little but if they stack up and come at you in groups of three, four or more, then there is likely to be some foundation for feeling uneasy. Unnatural repetition and emphasis of the same words: this happens almost as if someone is trying to convince themselves as well as others. Talking excessively and providing too much information: elaboration is sometimes thought to be convincing but too much is suspicious. Mismatched words and non-verbal signals: a disconnect here should sound the alarm bells – the non-verbals are likely to be more trustworthy than the words alone. Too many pauses or delays in responding: we all need a bit of thinking time occasionally but the delay needs to be appropriate in the...

The importance of authentic communication

In this 2009 video Sheryl Sandberg, American technology executive, activist, and author reflects on the importance of authentic communication when it comes to being successful. In her view (and we tend to agree), your expertise alone will not get you to where you want to be. It’s how you interact with others that will make a difference. Here are some of the highlights from her talk: Great decisions cannot be made unless everyone is honest. There is no absolute truth – only a subjective truth, your truth or my truth. Stating forceful opinions and “being right” usually inhibits authentic communication. Sharing “your truth” and leading with belief statements is more likely to encourage authentic and meaningful dialogue. Authentic communicators use the active voice and take responsibility for their actions. Incidentally, what do think of the way she speaks herself? Do you find her authentic? We especially like the way she shares well-chosen stories, examples and anecdotes from her personal experience. This always helps to boost credibility!   The Training Box recommends: “Leading Out Loud: A Guide for Engaging Others in Creating the Future” (John Wiley & Sons, 2013) by Terry Pearce...

Secrets of authenticity

The word authentic carries with it a number of meanings and implications. First of all, authentic literally translates to “real” or “genuine”. Philosophically and psychologically speaking, it is a term used to describe the degree to which a person is true to his or her own personality, spirit, or character – possibly despite external pressures or extenuating circumstances. With this in mind, who among us would generally not want to be perceived as an authentic communicator? The difficulty in achieving this often lies not in any intentional desire to be inauthentic or to mislead, but rather in getting rid of some barriers. The barriers are frequently self-imposed, difficult to shift and overcome and get in the way of us being real. What happens on the outside – our words, our behaviour as heard and observed by others – is only a reflection of what is happening on the inside. This means that credible and authentic communication really needs to come from a place of authenticity. If we have nothing to hide, can speak openly and honestly and confidently about what is important to us, then we are much more likely have a positive impact. What happens if we are not sure about who we are, or lack the confidence to be our true selves? Covering up and perfecting a facade is one way to go – but this can be exhausting and difficult to maintain. Surely it is better in the long run to remember that we are meant to be real not perfect? What about working towards being a first rate version of yourself rather than pretending to...