What does it mean to be authentic?

Being authentic means being genuine with your values and words, along with the vision and mission for your life.

Living an authentic life’s been linked to: higher levels of positive effect, life satisfaction, autonomy, environmental mastery, positive relationships with others, personal growth, self-acceptance, and a reduction in stress and anxiety.

While there are tremendous benefits to an authentic lifestyle in your personal life, there are also professional benefits. Remaining genuine through your actions and communication in the workplace can have a positive or negative impact on your job and overall job satisfaction. The same way authenticity can impact the relationships in your personal life, the impact of professional authenticity influences the relationships with those in your workplace.

Authenticity in the Workplace

Being true to your word and corresponding actions has a direct impact on your professional relationships. The range of impact can span from your colleagues to your supervisor.

  • Colleagues: The commitment and follow through of your word affects the way your team views you. Depending on the authenticity of your word, your colleagues will either trust and respect you as a valued, reliable member of the team, or begin to view you as someone who won’t follow through with their word, tasks, or actions.
  • Customers: Internal and external customers quickly learn whether or not people display honesty and integrity through their words and actions. If there are a consistent array of over-promising and under-delivering, it’ll surely impact the quality of customer relationships. Responding authentically can impact your chances for referrals, repeat customers, and customer satisfaction.
  • Supervisor: Trust and follow-through are admirable qualities in an employee. Supervisors and management may gravitate toward employees that are true to their word and display authentic qualities in the workplace. Displaying authentic behaviors through your word and quality of work can behoove you for a long and prosperous career.

Of course there are various interactions not listed, that are impacted by how you show up to the office every day. Think of how your authenticity can impact your connection with your employees, janitorial staff, and so on.

Downsides of Authenticity

While there are numerous benefits to professional authenticity, there can be some perceived drawbacks, such as accepting a new opportunity that we’re not 100% qualified in doing. Remaining authentic doesn’t mean we have to stifle our growth by not accepting new challenges that are not in exact alignment with our work performance and comfort zones.

Going against our natural inclinations, or comfort zone, can make us feel like impostors, but outside the comfort zone’s where professional growth happens. Through fear, we can latch on to using authenticity as an excuse for sticking with what’s comfortable instead of challenging ourselves. To overcome this, we can view ourselves as works-in-progress and evolve our identities through trial and error. This helps us develop a style that feels right to us and suits life’s changing needs.

Ways to remain authentic

Even though there may be perceived ramifications of authenticity, the benefits for professional growth and satisfaction supersede the potential risks. Not being authentic in the workplace can have internal and external ramifications. Inauthenticity can create stress, burnout, and lead to poor job performance.

There are a few ways to avoid inauthenticity in the workplace and in the job hunting process, if applicable:

  • Have a clear understanding of the company’s culture ahead of time. You’ll be less likely to end up faking whether or not you’re a cultural fit. Know your values and the boundaries associated with these values.
  • Be clear with yourself on where you’re willing to step out of your professional comfort zone and challenge yourself. If you haven’t been a manager in the past but are willing to step up to the challenge, own the opportunity and give it your all.
  • Realize it’s your choice to show up authentically. You’re not just going to show up one day and be your true self. Speak up in meetings and give your honest opinion.

How will you show up?

Being authentic is one of the only ways to be seen and accepted for our genuine self, and authentically accept new and existing challenges at the workplace. Every day’s another opportunity to show up with who we truly are, and present ourselves reliably. We can either choose to use authenticity as a tool for growth, or use it as an excuse to remain in our comfort zone.

What will you choose?

Photo Credit: Laurenz Kleinheider, Unsplash.com