Everyone has a different set of attitudes, beliefs, goals and values but authenticity – generally speaking – is the same for all people. It simply means being true to yourself. So how can you know if you’re being authentic or not?
One way is to gauge whether you feel awkward or not in a situation: being authentic feels natural whereas being inauthentic doesn’t. Usually, being authentic feels so natural that you don’t notice it, which makes it hard to define. On the other hand, when you’re not being authentic, you’re likely painfully aware of that fact and feel uncomfortable and exhausted by it.
That’s because you’re forcing yourself to wear a mask and act differently than you normally do. This tends to happen when you’re under pressure to behave a particular way, for instance, if you dislike the person you’re talking to.
Just imagine scenarios where you think:
“I don’t like this person, but I’m trying to be nice” or “This situation makes me feel uncomfortable, but I don’t know what to do about it.” In these situations, people tend to hide their true feelings by acting overly polite, but such a strategy can be painfully obvious.
Regardless of how you feel about the person you’re speaking to, you’ve got to remain authentic.
Instead of sporting a fake smile, try looking at the people you meet with unbiased eyes. Maybe you can find something to appreciate about them. For instance, maybe they have skills in areas where you don’t. Or maybe you can feel compassion for their actions.
This thought exercise will help you forge a new perspective to deal with the person authentically. Just remember, finding the good in a situation or a person will lead to a more genuine and productive interaction.