Authentic. Everyone should be authentic today. Speakers, politicians, leaders. But what does being authentic actually mean?
To be authentic means to behave the way one feels inside.
Let’s assume that I was annoyed about my children this morning and that I had a fight with my partner, that the cold is pressing more and more on my sinuses and that I am supposed to give a very important presentation right away. Under these circumstances, should I behave externally as I feel internally? Probably not.
But then I would be authentic.
So, what is the solution?
Let’s try it with transparency.
If we are transparent, we give our counterpart a kind of “status report”. Just like our technical devices do: “Error 328XZ has occurred. The performance of the application may be limited. Do you still want to continue?”. That’s the great thing about transparency, because our counterpart can:
- decide whether he/she would still like to work with us in this state despite our “restriction”, or
- spend some time to get to the bottom of the “bug” and thus fix the limitation, if in his power, or
- even without knowing exactly what is in error 328XZ, you can do something with the information.
But why do we give him the information when he might not be able to do anything to fix the “bug”? Let’s come back to the example: It’s hard for my counterpart to try to reconcile with my partner. Perhaps the matter can be clarified more quickly if we simply turn it around:
One of our colleagues comes to the office. Obviously, something has happened. We cannot say exactly what, but our colleague seems absent and very thoughtful. Our cheerful “Good morning!” is followed only by a short “Yes.” without him looking at us. Often this situation sets an inner process in motion, which could be similar to this:
- We think nothing of it and simply go on. The colleague will already announce himself, if what is.
- We think about what might have happened to the colleague, but wait and see. He will say something when he is ready.
- We are considering what we have done, that our colleague should treat us in this way. We will wait and see if he says anything.
This internal process can continue indefinitely. But it does not get any better. And already from the second thought our working memory is occupied with an unnecessary process, which I could stop quite simply with a demand, like e.g. “Is there something, which I should know in the sense of the good being together? But why don’t I do that quite often?
I would have to be transparent myself and would show a weakness to the other. And who likes to get emotionally “naked” in front of others?
Our technical devices have no problem with that. They also don’t fear that we will throw them away or treat them worse if they report error 328XZ to us. Devices show us weak points and give us full freedom of decision: “Take care of the error, then I will function properly again. You can also leave it alone. I won’t be angry with you then, but I will still deliver bad results at some point. You have it in your hand.”
We humans often do not have this openness. We fear consequences due to our weak points. Although we are usually protected when we make them transparent. If the environment knows and can decide whether to spend time on the vulnerability or to continue with the knowledge that it may not be working optimally, the pressure to be perfect takes away from us. We relax and the likelihood that the “malfunction” will continue to occur decreases as we feel more secure.
So I like to say “I have error XYZ today” next time. It may be that I am limited in my ability to function. You can (not) help fix the bug.”
Just try it out. With pleasure with own words.