Being your authentic self in workplace communication

There are many times in my professional life when I feel like I am talking to grown ups and I am the kid in the playground.

I might at times have the equivalent or more experience or skill on paper than the person or people I am having a conversation with, but I still feel like I am the one lacking the emotional ability to verbalize what I want to say with the right clarity and sense of purpose (I call it oomph) that might be needed.

In the world of business, this little conundrum is often what is at the heart of most conflict situations or defective communication issues, but I ask you is it so much more? It is about having emotional competency and authenticity and active mindfulness or as a friend of mine calls it “attentional intelligence”, when it comes to dealing with how we interact with people.

Dr Phil is a big promoter of developing your authentic self. Authenticity is a technical term used in the world of psychology and is the degree to which a person is true to their own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures and it is how the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world. It sounds difficult because you first have to define what is your authentic self and then put that into words, roll it around on your tongue and see if you even enjoy the taste.

Take for example if you were asked “Who are you?” what is most people’s answer? They would most likely state the facts. Often the answer is not who you are, but what you do, what your social station is, or how you see your function in life or even your values. People struggle to  answer who they are, because they don’t know or they struggle to define that. Brain science tells us it is very hard to put language or words around this or anything emotional.

The authentic self is the “you” that can be found at your absolute core. It is the part of you not defined by your job, function or role or even the task you are doing in the workplace. It is the composite of all your skills, talents and wisdom. It is all of the things that are uniquely yours and need expression. It is the “why” you do all the things you do. Being your authentic self  requires “attentional intelligence” to ensure you portray “you” as best you know how. It is also about having the courage to acknowledge your limitations and embrace your vulnerability and gain the confidence to be humble.

At the heart of it, one of my favourite sayings from an old mentor of mine is to “be curious” because it gives you time to contemplate and determine how to respond as your authentic self.  Your speed of personal growth depends on you living in a state of curiosity instead of certainty. Open your mind to possibilities and you will find you will fight less with other people without having to surrender what is most important to you.

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