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How to move past ‘feeling inauthentic’ when communicating

 In Body language, Entrepreneur, Featured Media, Learning from Luminaries, Mindset, News, Philosopher, The Winning Voice, What not to do
“I feel cheesy.”. . . “I feel false.” . . . “I don’t want to project something I’m not.” . . . “I don’t want to be inauthentic.”
When I work with clients on changing how they present themselves and their messages, some clients respond with the above statements. I then suggest that feeling uncomfortable is part of changing behaviour.
I tell them to embrace the paradox of being comfortable with the uncomfortable. That if they’re not willing to be uncomfortable, they’re unlikely to adopt the techniques I share with them.
Below are quotations I send to clients who struggle with feeling inauthentic and false.

Adapted From HBR The Authenticity Paradox, by Herminia Ibarra.

‘We tend to latch onto authenticity as an excuse for sticking with what’s comfortable. But few jobs allow us to do that.
Leadership development requires us to move beyond our comfort zones – however doing that triggers strong countervailing impulses to protect our identities.
When we are unsure of ourselves or our ability to perform well, we often retreat to familiar behaviours and styles.
By viewing ourselves as works in progress and evolving our professional identities through trial and error, we can develop a personal style that feels right to us.
It takes courage, because learning starts with unnatural and often superficial behaviours that can make us feel calculating instead of genuine and spontaneous. But the only way to avoid being pigeonholed and ultimately become better communicator is to do the things that a rigidly authentic sense of self would keep us from doing.
Being utterly transparent – disclosing every single thought and feeling – is both unrealistic and risky.’

Here is a vignette from Edge by Laura Huang.

“Be yourself (in an interview for example) is the worst advice because we have many selves. How we interact with boss, versus best friend versus mother differs.
See yourself as a diamond. A diamond has flaws, cuts depending on how it is held it can shine brightly or not so much. So in any interaction choose the part of the diamond that shines the brightest for this interaction.”

Own the Conversation

Action suggestion

For the next seven days:

  • Start seeing yourself as a ‘work in progress’.
  • Aim to let go of ‘your rigid sense of self’.
  • Try a new communication technique and note how you feel during and after the interaction. (Perhaps have a longer pause before you start speaking; Speak up more than usual in a meeting with C level executives: Introduce yourself to someone you’ve seen more than once at your office building but don’t know.
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