Whatever your job, where ever you’re based, whenever you interact with others – authentic communication counts. It could be in a meeting, teleconference, interview, presentation, conflict situation … Your ability to communicate authentically will have an impact on your success. And your company’s success. But what do we mean by authentic communication? And what does it look like?
Authentic communication – the bare essentials
The term “authentic” communication is frequently used but too rarely defined or explained. To break it down to its basic component I’d say that authentic communication is fundamentally about intention. You genuinely intend to create a real connection with the person you’re speaking to. And you genuinely intend to allow them to make a connection with you. This intention means you
- share who you are, where you are coming from and how you see something
- do this in your own words
- are honest and clear about what you see, feel and believe (saying what you mean and meaning what you say)
- seek to understand and identify with the other person
Sounds simple, right? Let’s go deeper…
10 key behaviours authentic communicators display
Authentic communication isn’t about tips, tricks and impressive sounding communication tools and acronyms. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin, and with who you are. As Bruce Lee said…
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
And who would want to argue with him?
The key to is to really allow yourself to see the person you are speaking with and allow yourself to be seen. You let them see you as you really are at that moment and let them into your world. This can be frightening and involves a degree of vulnerability – but to be authentic you need to be real – and that means showing them something, and something that is true right now.
Make sure that when you are listening you are fully focussed one the speaker and not rehearsing your response, judging etc. Listening skills are the key to making a genuine connection with somebody. (How good are your listening skills?)
Work to create mutual understanding
Imagine yourself in the others’ shoes and be curious. Avoid second guessing and making assumptions about what others are feeling, thinking or mean. Check your understanding on a regular basis.
Take responsibility for your communication
Use I/me rather than we/our. You need to accept ownership for what you say and be fully responsible for any unexpected consequences. You need to be descriptive.
Use natural, conversational language. Short sentences are great, and look for common vocabulary. Avoid using ambiguous language and jargon. And if in doubt check you both understand what was said in the same way.
Watch the sweeping statements
Exaggerating to make a point is never helpful and creates divisions and resentment. Language such as “always” and “never” is rarely accurate.
Separate the objective and subjective
Try to be clear about what you see as an objective fact and a subjective opinion. If in doubt, ask for clarification.
Say what you do and do what you say
Match your words to your actions.
Work to become aware of your own prejudices, tendencies, triggers and judgements. The sooner you can become aware of your reactions to specific triggers, the sooner you can focus on controlling them.
Fine-tune your communication skills.Take a look at our interpersonal seminars.