A few notes on authenticity

The word "authenticity" comes from the Greek root authentikos, meaning "original, genuine, principal." 

Humanistic psychologists would say that by definition, authentic people possess a number of common characteristics that show they are psychologically mature and fully functioning as human beings. They...

  • Have realistic perceptions of reality.

  • Are accepting of themselves and of other people.

  • Are thoughtful.

  • Have a non-hostile sense of humour.

  • Are able to express their emotions freely and clearly.

  • Are open to learning from their mistakes.

  • Understand their motivations.

Images © Pete Mosley

Images © Pete Mosley

Authenticity in practice

I don't know anyone who doesn't want to be authentic or for whom authenticity isn't an aspirational value. However, authenticity isn't something you can simply choose to have or claim for yourself. The terms authentic, credible, expert or guru are terms that others bestow on us when we display those behaviours. We need to earn those labels. 

When we are able to bring our beliefs, core values and our marketing stories into alignment we tend to be perceived as more authentic. It's easier for people to connect with us. When these things are dissonant it shows and people are less trusting of our message. Your story creates a bond between yourself and your customers or clients. It enables them to grasp your values and helps them get to know, like and trust you.

How do you earn the badge of authenticity? I think in truth it takes time, and it comes from consistency in the way we serve others. Others bestow our authenticity/credibility/expertise upon us in recognition of what we do for them.

Authenticity is when we sound natural - in other words, when there is no conflict between the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell others. 

  • Speak honestly and from the heart. 

  • Don't make false claims.

  • Use your own words - don't try and emulate the styles and techniques of others. Of course you should aim to become a better speaker or writer - just don't speak in what is obviously someone else's voice.

  • Lead from values and the heart. Your values and beliefs are what others are seeking out - we all actively look for someone we can believe in and that we can trust when looking for solutions to our problems.

How much of yourself do you share/how much do you hold back? To an extent this should reflect your boundaries in everyday life - unless you are a habitual over-sharer, or keep things too tightly buttoned. What's natural for some would look ridiculous if copied by others. Where are your boundaries on this? We are all different.





    Take a little time to review some of your recent posts, articles or sales copy and ask yourself these questions below.

It's time to do an authenticity audit. Collect anything you've put together to promote or talk about your business or industry and check that it comes across as authentic. Here are some questions to ask about each piece:

  • Do you sound natural?

  • Do you need to open up, or reign it in?

  • Are people able to read and evaluate your values and beliefs easily enough?

  • Is your content giving in nature - or written in anticipation of getting something back?

Try to look at your content from the viewpoint of your ideal customer/client/reader - would you buy from this woman/man? If you find this too hard, ask someone you trust (but not someone you have a close relationship with) to give you some honest feedback.