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8 ways to become a more genuine and authentic person

4 min read


Genuine people live true to themselves. Researchers Michael Kernis and Brian Goldman define authenticity as “The unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in daily enterprise.”

Authenticity stands in contrast to the “fake it until you make it” philosophy or the “act like others expect you to” way of fitting in. Is it your best option to be authentic or genuine in the workplace?

The truth is, people recognize a fake. Customers, co-workers and bosses feel the insincerity on a conscious or unconscious level. Can’t you tell the difference between a pasted on smile and a genuine smile? People create a dissonance when their words or actions are not genuine.

In contrast, a genuine person is easier to work with, considered more trustworthy, and more likeable. Here’s why.

  1. High self-esteem. Authentic people exhibit confidence in themselves. Because they feel okay about themselves they are less likely to be defensive or to take offense. They are able to minimize self-criticism. They respond better to criticism and often see it as an opportunity to improve rather than being devastated by it.
  1. More relaxed and comfortable. Genuine people can more easily focus on others or the task at hand because they are less focused on themselves. People who “fake it” must exercise effort to watch their words and actions. It takes extra self-control so the “real you” doesn’t slip out.
  1. Grounded in self-values. People who are genuine take time to think about how they view life, their values, and the situations they face. Once they’ve arrived at those values, they are less likely to be swept along by public tide. They are less distracted from their purpose and more open to thoughtful reason.
  1. Easily share thoughts and opinions. They more freely share ideas and suggestions with others when appropriate, and are less likely to fear disagreement. Because they are grounded in self-understanding, they can discuss and share with less need for the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
  1. More giving. Genuine people feel free to give from the heart. Whether it’s a complement, a gift, charitable contribution or extra help at work, it’s done from a desire to give and be productive, not to burden others with expectations.
  1. Accept strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect. Genuine people don’t try to pretend they— or anyone else— are perfect. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They may not be satisfied with those weaknesses and may seek to strengthen them. But they don’t try to cover them up. They also exhibit patience with others’ shortcomings, understanding this is a part of life.
  1. Accept responsibility. In like manner, they take responsibility for their actions. If they did well, they accept that. They don’t minimize it or downplay it. If they made a mistake, they don’t try to cover it up. They admit it and try to fix it.
  1. Clear intentions. Authentic people are clear and open with their communications and actions. People know where they stand and don’t need to waste time looking for the hidden meanings or ulterior motives. Genuine people are easier to work with.

It’s worth the effort to cultivate traits that free you to become authentic. Studies show genuine people are more likely to be liked and trusted. They are more likely to be given a chance even if they don’t quite measure up, because they appear teachable. Wouldn’t you prefer to be genuine and have authentic people around you?

Joel Garfinkle is available for speaking and training. His most popular training program for corporations is “Executive Presence: Learn the 4 Ways to Convey Confidence as a Business Leader,” which has been delivered to Oracle, Genentech, PG&E. He is the author of 300 articles on leadership and nine books, including “Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level.” Garfinkle is acknowledged as one of the top 50 executive coaches in the U.S and Global Gurus listed him 14th on the list of top 30 global coaching experts. More than 10,000 people subscribe to his Fulfillment@Work newsletter. Subscribe and you’ll receive the free e-book “41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!”

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