What is Authenticity?
Are we thinking about it the way we should? My career has been lined with the handshakes of those who claim authenticity or transparency - such quaint 2010 buzzwords. But talk is just that: talk. And it makes me question, is there an ongoing problem with being inauthentic? Are not falsities quickly revealed today?
We can hope - but truth can seem as evasive as true love.
Spouting and shouting does not make what is being spouted and shouted any more true. I love to use foul or provocative language, but it does not make what I am saying any more right or true? Click bait and headline grabs may shock but sadly fail to secure truth or authenticity, and rarely prove a valid skill set and base knowledge. And it does not speak to a deficit in creativity, as many want to proclaim, perhaps the opposite. Fiction often passes for truth if it appeals and has been tweeted or posted enough.
Is there best approach?
When working with clients, customers, partners, vendors, or employees, does screaming, “I am the bona fide real deal!” make you real and true or does it just make you loud? Perhaps slightly egotistical, narcissistic, and even childish. There have been a few times when I wrote or said the wrong or inaccurate thing, to later discovered that I had spoken a mistruth or offended my listener or reader. Not my favorite corner to be in - I have learned to face up to my mistakes and walk on the wet paint.
There are those who don’t don’t care.
Party on and offend away, but how much narrower and shallower does that make your audience? With your market share reduced and business development stunted, there is suddenly more room for those who work harder to be respectful and thus respected, not just authentic or transparent. I am a big fan of being true to oneself, but at what cost? When deference diminishes for those who sign your check or promote your business or buy your product and services, how far behind is the demise of honesty and self-respect?
The Cellophane Approach
I’m not at all interested in being compared to plastic wrap. My idea of transparency is “what you see is what you get.” I show you respect and that is what I hope to gain in return. Your needs are important to me, as they should be. If I can, I will work to understand a problem and fix or resolve it - that is what you’ll get. And if I don’t know, those are the words you will hear, “I don’t know.”
Not as clear as it seems...
“But nothing is more opaque than absolute transparency .” - Margaret Atwood
I would agree Margaret, absolute transparency may be nothing more than an awkward battle cry in a self-made war.