After a meeting with a client today I was struck at how positive my mood was. I reflected on why this was, and I came to the conclusion that it really boiled down to authenticity: to the opportunity for both of us to just ‘be real’. We both took advantage of that space that coaching affords – the space to just be able to speak openly and honestly, and to join one another as human beings sharing the human condition.

I thought about how important ‘being real’ really is, and about how difficult it is to define what this really means.

How often do we actually show up as our authentic selves? This is a difficult question, because it’s true that we often need to adapt our styles to suit our audience and the purpose of our interaction. So if we’re speaking and behaving one way to one person or group of people, and a different way to another, does that mean we’re not being authentic? How much can we change before we’re not being our ‘true selves’ any longer?

I think the answer lies with integrity. It’s a wonderful skill to be able to adapt and adjust our personal presentation to fit the need, but are we continuing to act with integrity with each role we assume? In other words, are we living true to our own beliefs and values? If I need to act more assertively in a given situation, for example, can I do it while still honouring my belief about the importance of respecting the rights of others? If I need to be diplomatic in another situation, can I still honour my value of self-expression?

The product of examining our beliefs and values is, hopefully, that we continue to be mindful of being real. And when we’re being real, people know exactly what they’re getting: they have a choice to build something more with us or not – but nobody’s time (including our own) is wasted. We can spare one another the disappointments that sometimes arise when true colours are shown. Authenticity also garners trust in the relationships we do build – and trust is the cornerstone of every productive interaction and win-win situation.

Are you clear about your beliefs and values? What are those ideals and understandings – about yourself, others, and the world at large – that you hold more closely than anything else?

How were these beliefs and values shaped? Are they operating consciously or unconsciously? In other words, do you really know why you do what you do – or do you often act out of habit only to regret it later? Can you make a point of acting in accordance with your adaptive, helpful beliefs and values – and revisit and challenge the outdated ones that may no longer be serving you well?

When we can do this, we can truly be our authentic selves – despite the adjustments we need to make in different situations. And it’s when we’re ‘real’ that we can build the kinds of relationships that help to get our needs met in a way that’s good for ourselves and others.

Author's Bio: 

Chris Hammer, Ph.D. is a certified professional coach and licensed psychologist. He offers leadership and life coaching services, as well as various self-development tools for people who are passionate about reaching higher levels of success and becoming the best they can be.

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