We recently had an appealing discussion about authenticity with a group of delegates during an in house communication skills course. We had identified in the beginning that the majority of the participants attending the two-day programme had received a 360-degree feedback suggesting that they could take advantage of tools and techniques to develop their communication skills. Anyone in the group felt that, while they certainly were keen to improve their skills being authentic while communicating at the office was the most important thing. Then they added that they’d feel inauthentic if they certainly were to consciously use their body gestures in ways that could influence someone. This prompted us to pause and ask the group if they’d be interested in us facilitating an exploration into this is of the phrase authenticity. They unanimously agreed and so we kicked off by asking the next question:
“Do you think there is a distinction between how you are feeling, think and behave when you are acquainted with your family, out with friends and at use colleagues?”
While everyone in this specific group agreed there clearly was indeed a distinction, 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 the individual; these perhaps? This was only a little trickier since it was clear from a few of the feedback the delegates in the room had received from a recently available 360 that their authentic behavior wasn’t necessarily making the specified impact. The objective for the remaining session then shifted towards how we might identify which is our authentic self and how to then consciously work with a communication skills technique without losing authenticity. What happened next?
Think, can of worms and a tin opener!
We started by taking a look at how we might be more aware of how we use the 4 dimensions (body, heart, mind and intention) to state ourselves. Once we are clear about this we could commence to realize that there are actually many selves behind what may seem like one personality. At the least four in most cases.
Let’s start in what we might believe is our authentic physical self. It’s a well known fact that people inherit 50% of our genes from our Mothers and another 50% from our fathers and so the self we call our body is entirely inherited. We are basically physical reproductions of our parents. The main thing to comprehend about that is that the genes we’ve inherited contain memories. You could have heard about muscle memory in sport, well exactly the same applies to the genetic memory inherent in the synthesis of the human body in vitro. All the memories that inform the process leading to the form, size and quality of our physical organs is contained in the genes we inherit and are caused by our ancestors’ social and environmental experiences and behaviours. Recent studies in epigenetics have revealed so just how important genetic inheritance may be when it comes 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 areas of the body?
Now let’s explore how we might become a slightly different person whenever we become emotional. People will often say that after an especially emotional episode – this might have involved either feeling extremely happy or ecstatic to feeling sad or angry – they felt like they’d been hijacked by another personality. This really is essentially because our emotions are a mix of inherited dispositions, learned behaviours and also our personal unique responses to living 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 may have featured both positive and negative experiences that lay down some fairly stubborn and habitual, emotional responses that can be very hard to break. So, are we always authentically being ourselves emotionally? Which is your true and authentic emotional self?
The intellectual dimension can be subject to the vagaries of our genetic inheritance. Although this is not necessarily fixed for life how to live authentically. Research into brain plasticity has revealed that our thinking style may be altered and with practice and regular brain workouts we could increase our intellectual capacity. However, our genes with the quality of our education will influence the development of a personality that is founded on our personal knowledge of the world. The process for this personality is that it will often be a mix of learned traditions and rules plus our personal interpretation of the data we have been required to comprehend and accept. It’s probably safe to assume that many folks are behaving authentically when communicating their understanding of the world. In the end, 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. Like, while at the office you could professionally execute all of the tasks required of your job role but your ‘intention’ is to get during the day avoiding your boss or certain colleagues and get out of the building as quickly as possible. In this instance you might be ‘doing’ employment of work that doesn’t utilize all of your skills, employed by an employer who doesn’t value you or recognize or acknowledge your potential and perhaps your role is not offering you the opportunities you imagine you deserve. In this example your intentional self is the absolute most authentic expression of what and who you are. Maybe you are ‘doing’ your job perfectly but your ‘being’- body gestures and emotional responses to others you use – will be expressing your ‘authentic’ intentions. In cases like this if you communicate anything besides that which you genuinely intend you might be perceived as behaving in-authentically – perhaps without even realizing it. This is actually the time and energy to reset your intentions and consciously choose a different authentic you that will assist you better. It could be as possible tap to the authentic you that enjoys the physical aspect of the work or commence to explore and expand your authentic emotional self. How might you feel authentically more in touch with 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?
Once we consciously determine which self to state, when, to whom and how, we could commence to integrate all 4 dimensions in a movement of ‘being’ that increases our feeling of authenticity.