What does it mean to connect authentically? It can sometimes be confusing as authenticity is one of those words a lot of people use – and often overuse. I think it’s one of those concepts we recognise when it’s really obviously there – or not there!
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as “the quality of being real or true”.
Brené Brown tells us that “authenticity is a collection of choices we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
How often do we truly do this?
One of the side effects of being authentic is that it helps build trust. Why is trust important? My friend Jane Anderson, in her excellent book Trusted, reminds us that trust is essential to a cohesive society. It holds cultures together and it helps maintain order.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, the level of trust Australian place in government, industry and our leaders right now is quite low.
With disruption being a constant challenge for organisations today, trust is essential if leaders are to build and maintain strong relationships with their workforce and their customers.Connect authentically by being real – show your true self, know your values and what you stand for and live them! Click To Tweet
How we can connect authentically to build trust
- Be real – show your true self, whether this is as an individual or as a brand. Know your values and what you stand for and share them
- In 1676 Sir Isaac Newton said “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” We all get ideas from others. Two of my mentors, Matt Church and Peter Cook, regularly remind me that great leaders attribute their ideas with honour. And in if you’re wondering, the earliest recorded reference is of this quote by 12th-century theologian John of Salisbury in his treatise on logic, Metalogicon (1159) in which he references philosopher Bernard of Chartres saying that, “we stand like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants.” And no, I’ve not read it, a google search told me. Which is part of my point. It’s super easy these days to find the source of quotes and stories for attribution.
- Do what you promise – if you promise service excellence then respond to emails, tweets and Facebook and other social media mentions. Your customers expect this!
- Listen to your audience and be responsive – don’t just talk at them. Engage with them on social media, encourage them to converse with you, acknowledge and act on criticisms – even if it’s just a simple “thank you for your feedback”.
- Be honest about your products and services. If you’re a service provider, don’t accept a client if you don’t have the time to do the work and do it well, if you have a product fail, let people know. In the news today I’ve read that The Volkswagen Group and Audi have settled two major Australian class actions relating to their global diesel emissions scandal. Friends I know who have been involved in this have said they will never trust Volkswagen again – despite it having been a trusted brand for years, and the reason they bought their VWs in the first place.
- If you make a mistake, OWN IT. If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit it. Recently I undertook some professional development. Most of it was excellent, but the speaker came undone at the end when he opened up the floor to questions. There were two questions he obviously didn’t know the answer to, but rather than admit it, or ask the room if anyone had any ideas, he tried to squeeze his IP into the answer. And it really didn’t work. Unfortunately, this left a sour taste in my mouth, and significantly diminished the trust I had previously felt towards him.
- Don’t use corporate jargon – use language your market understands. Check out Jargon Free Fridays, started by Gabrielle Dolan, which hopes to change the way we communicate in business. Ral says “We are drowning in a sea of corporate jargon, acronyms and bullet points. We are confused and bewildered by leaders who are not prepared to say it as it is and talk in a way that is more real. Every time we use jargon and acronyms we disconnect and isolate people.” Once you’ve had a good giggle at her jargon-filled videos, then buy her latest book, Real Communication! #notsponsored #fangirl
- Be consistent with your messaging – don’t say one thing yet do another. I spend some time at a company that espoused integrity and trust, yet there was a rampant culture of bullying. Talk about a massive disconnect!
- Finally, be original – as Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”.
How are you showing up authentically in your business?
I’d love to know. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #thisconnectedlife and tagging me @melkettle
Or you can email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
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