In some ways, it’s never been easier to connect with people since everyone is basically a text message or a social-media post away. Yet, having truly meaningful interactions feels scarce.
If our conversations are authentic, the relationships we develop are meaningful. On the other hand, relationships are superficial if they lack authenticity. Ultimately, people are attracted to authenticity - it makes them feel comfortable, safe, and respected. We all want to be around and associated with authentic people.
And we all want to be authentic people.
One of the most authentic people I know is Natalie Bruno of Jottful, so we poised the question to her about how to be authentic.
Her response was remarkable as she looked at it through the lens of what inauthentic is. According to Natalie, if you are aware of what inauthencitity looks like, you can do the opposite and be authentic. By examining authenticity in this way, Natalie found that there are two core traits to authenticity.
The first is self-acceptance.
“If we know who we are and like who are, then we’re likely to show up.”
We are our greatest enemy when it comes to getting in the way of being authentic.
Being authentic is scary because authenticity is intimate. There’s no hiding when you’re authentic, which is really scary when you’re interacting with someone new or you’re in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar place. You may find yourself worrying that your “real” self isn’t good enough or appropriate for the situation at hand, and you fear rejection. And when this happens, you show up as the person you think everyone else will like rather than showing up as yourself.
By putting in the time and the work to truly find ourselves, and, ultimately, accept ourselves, we can save ourselves the labels of fake, cheesy, or inauthentic. Yes, authenticity is scary, but if we summon the courage to accept ourselves, we’ll be able to initiate authentic conversations and bring our truest self to the table.
The second thing Natalie mentions about being authentic is being interested in the person you’re connected with rather than trying to come off interesting.
“Be interested NOT interesting.”
I found this interesting (pun intended), but it wasn’t until later that I truly understood what Natalie was trying to say here. What Natalie suggests to ensure we’re our authentic self is to be present and accept the authenticity of another.
Conversation is a two-way street, and just as you must be bold enough to tell your own stories and express your own concerns, you must also be receptive enough to listen to another person’s stories and concerns. It’s easy to be in the middle of a conversation with someone, and have our mind wander to craft the perfect response while the other person is talking. We’re all guilty of this.
And though the other person can’t read your mind, their intuition can tell them whether or not you were present and interested in what they had to say. And when you’re not present, you put yourself at risk of being seen as someone who doesn’t care or are selfish, which is off-putting and puts up walls that block out authenticity. Just being heard is a powerful experience that often lessens others’ built-up defenses and helps them feel understood, even if two people don’t quite see eye-to-eye.
So, without rushing ahead in your mind to come off interesting, Natalie wants you to stay in the moment and be interested by paying attention to the other person’s actual message, in word or body language. Being present isn’t easy. It requires concentration, compassion, and self-awareness. We all know how good it feels realizing someone truly hears what you have to say — and how lousy it feels when the other person seems distracted or more interested in sharing their perspective.
According to her, authenticity comes naturally as a result.
“If you’re truly interested, then you have no choice but to be authentic.”
By developing a genuine understanding of and connection to the people you’re with, you’re more likely to feel genuine and authentic yourself.
ENGAGEMENT OF THE DAY
Think about your last extended conversation - were you trying to be interesting or interested in what the other person had to say?
If you were trying to be interesting, try one small thing to come off interested in your next conversation - whether that’s just asking questions or leaning in.
ENJOY LOST ART OF CONVERSATION?
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