We recently had an interesting discussion about authenticity with a group of delegates during an internally communication skills course. We had identified in early stages that the majority of the participants attending the two-day programme had received a 360-degree feedback suggesting that they may take advantage of tools and techniques to produce their communication skills. One individual in the group felt that, while these were keen to enhance their skills being authentic while communicating at the job was the most important thing. Then they added that they would feel inauthentic if these were to consciously use their body language in ways that might influence someone help with living an authentic life. This prompted us to pause and ask the group if they would be interested in us facilitating an exploration into the meaning of the word authenticity. They unanimously agreed and so we kicked off by asking the following question:
“Do you think there’s a difference between how you are feeling, think and behave when you’re acquainted with your household, out with friends and at use colleagues?”
While everyone in this kind of group agreed there is indeed a difference, most felt which they behaved authentically while communicating at work. This then prompted the question, which of the feelings and behaviours were most authentic to anyone; them all perhaps? This was only a little trickier because it was clear from a few of the feedback the delegates in the space had received from a recent 360 that their authentic behavior wasn’t necessarily making the specified impact. The objective for the remaining portion of the session then shifted towards how we might identify that will be our authentic self and how exactly to then consciously make use of a communication skills technique without losing authenticity. What happened next?
Think, can of worms and a jar opener!
We started by taking a look at how we might be much more conscious of exactly how we utilize the 4 dimensions (body, heart, mind and intention) to express ourselves. Once we are clear concerning this we can commence to realize that there are in fact many selves behind what seems like one personality. At the very least four in most cases.
Let’s start using what we might believe is our authentic physical self. It is a fact that individuals inherit 50% of our genes from our Mothers and one other 50% from our fathers so the self we call our body is entirely inherited. We’re basically physical reproductions of our parents. The main thing to know about this is that the genes we’ve inherited contain memories. You might have heard about muscle memory in sport, well the exact same relates to the genetic memory inherent in the synthesis of the body in vitro. Most of the memories that inform the method resulting in the shape, size and quality of our physical organs is contained in the genes we inherit and are the result of our ancestors’ social and environmental experiences and behaviours. Recent studies in epigenetics have revealed so how important genetic inheritance may be with regards to our health and well-being and that of our children. So, what does it mean to be authentically ourselves physically when we’ve inherited someone else’s parts of the body?
Now let’s explore how we might develop into a slightly different person when we become emotional. People will often say that after an especially emotional episode – this may have involved either feeling extremely happy or ecstatic to feeling sad or angry – they felt like they had been hijacked by another personality. This is essentially because our emotions are a mixture of inherited dispositions, learned behaviours and also our own unique responses to the life conditions and experiences we have been born into. Each important stage of life is marked by certain emotional benchmarks, infancy to childhood and puberty to adulthood. Each of these stages can have featured both positive and negative experiences that lay down some fairly stubborn and habitual, emotional responses that can be extremely hard to break. So, are we always authentically being ourselves emotionally? Which is your true and authentic emotional self?
The intellectual dimension is also subject to the vagaries of our genetic inheritance. Although this is not necessarily fixed for life. Research into brain plasticity has revealed which our thinking style may be altered and with practice and regular brain workouts we can increase our intellectual capacity. However, our genes with the quality of our education will influence the development of a personality that is based on our own knowledge of the world. The challenge for this personality is so it will often be a variety of learned traditions and rules plus our own interpretation of the info we have been required to know and accept. It is probably safe to assume that most people are behaving authentically when communicating their understanding of the world. After all, it’s what they believe to be true.
Which neatly brings us to the fourth dimension of self-expression. The Intentional self. This is actually the personality that forms around our deepest values and beliefs about life, the universe and everything. For instance, while at the job you may professionally execute all of the tasks required of your job role your ‘intention’ is to have throughout the day avoiding your boss or certain colleagues and escape the building as quickly as possible. In this instance maybe you are ‘doing’ employment of work that doesn’t utilize your entire skills, working for a manager who doesn’t value you or recognize or acknowledge your potential and perhaps your role isn’t offering you the opportunities you think you deserve. In this example your intentional self is the most authentic expression of what and who you are. Maybe you are ‘doing’ your job well your ‘being’- body language and emotional responses to others you use – will be expressing your ‘authentic’ intentions. In this instance if you communicate anything besides everything you genuinely intend maybe you are perceived as behaving in-authentically – perhaps without even realizing it. This is actually the time for you to reset your intentions and consciously select a different authentic you that will serve you better. It could be as you are able to tap to the authentic you that enjoys the physical part of the task or commence to explore and expand your authentic emotional self. How might you become authentically more touching your emotions in ways that benefits both your colleagues and customers? Perhaps your intellectual self could offer more to your boss than you currently share. What impact might that have?
Even as we consciously choose which self to express, when, to whom and how, we can commence to integrate all 4 dimensions in a movement of ‘being’ that increases our feeling of authenticity.