It’s the buzzword of the moment but it’s been around for a while. Its the act of living in the moment, staying true to yourself, and behaving with conviction. In an age of influencers, social media and #ad, its about not being “fake”, but standing by your values and morals.
“To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect — and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.”— Brené Brown
I get it – being your authentic self can feel risky now in our screen-obsessed world. We’re just trying to fit in, be liked, and be accepted by other human beings. And as a result, the image we present (on our social media profiles and IRL) have become mere presentations of who we think we should be and not reflections of who we really are.
When looking to build relationships – both in business and life – we are seeking to connect with people of integrity, honesty, and a strong moral compass. Both you and your customers will avoid people and brands who are unreliable and don’t stand by their values, so why do we still communicate in this way?!
From working with businesses on their communications and brand presence for almost 10 years, today I’m sharing my top tips for communicating with authenticity, and what on earth it means for your business!
1.Let go of the inner critic
How often do you second guess yourself, censor or slap a filter over a selfie? Forbes magazine says that “Peak performers are able to tune out inner voices, nagging doubts and internal second-guessing—and they’re then able to tune into their activity with full concentration and confidence. They are present, and magic happens only in the present moment.”
Next time you find yourself editing, drafting and re-drafting something – ask yourself why. Are you putting on a posh phone voice type persona that’s not really you? Are you struggling to think of something to say? Chances are, if its a struggle and it doesn’t run onto the page like verbal diarrhea, its not authentic because it doesn’t light you up from the inside.
If you can’t say anything true… do you need to say anything at all!?
2. Tap into your inner values
Your authentic self will always be drawn to the same elements and values, and they are a HUGE part of you and need to be shared with the world. Recall your moments of déjà vu, or when you experience moments where you dream of doing more of something, or feel innately drawn to something which feels familiar. Everytime you feel this pull, take note. It is your authenticity bubbling to the surface and trying to show you the way and be seen – and trying to lead you to your potential!
It’s worth making a list of the tell-tale signs of what makes your inner cheerleader happy. Mine gets all high-spirited and bouncy when I smash a gym session, pour myself a bubble bath or get to use fancy body oils, finish my to-do list by 2pm and get great feedback from clients. When you get that smug AF feeling, it’s because you did something that aligns with your values, something to light you up and showed up as your authentic self. Take note of these feelings and learn to recognise when things are off.
3. Connect at a soul level with your ideal audience
For me – connecting from the soul is the most authentic way to do business. When you know, you know. You’ve got their back, you’ll sing their praises, and they will do the same for you. It’s not about making sure you are sharing things of equal value, or consorting to produce something to build you both up. For me, connection is all of that and more. It’s the trust, the values and personality that you can only share with someone when you BOTH show up with your authentic selves. Its honesty and respect, appreciation and excitement. That’s why many of my clients are good friends of mine and I know that we both do the very best we can for their business.
By sharing what you stand for with your community, there will be some people who don’t like it, and that’s okay – they aren’t on your wavelength. But on the other hand, there’s the crowd that GET YOU down to the bones, and will follow your every move, shout your praises from the rooftops and help craft your brand from a personal level.
4. Stand by your boundaries
This is a sticking point with almost all of my clients, as that pesky inner critic likes to pop up and try to persuade them to break their own rules. But if you don’t work past 4pm, don’t take calls on your personal phone and don’t want to have pre-10am meetings, then don’t.
You set these boundaries for a reason – and your clients will respect you for looking after you and what you need. If it helps, set an out of office stating clearly your work hours and how long people can expect a reply. Comms isn’t just social media; its every piece of information that comes from your business, even out of hours. How would it feel to log off at the end of your day and know that an on brand ‘hey, thanks so much for your email! I’m not at the desk right now but look forward to chatting with you within the next 48 hours’ message is sharing your values and keeping boundaries for you?
5. Do the inner work to be able to know what you need to say
If you’ve read all the above and are still feeling lost. “what re my values, what is my brand message?!’ then the perfect place to start is deep down within you. Who are you? What do you stand for? What is your purpose in the world?
Now ask the same Qs of your business.
The perfect place to start is right at the beginning – why did you start your business? For who? What do you want to achieve with it?
“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.”
― Steve Maraboli