What Are The Two Fundamental
Aspects of Authenticity?
By Kris Kile
Have you ever been authentically honest with someone in a conversation and have them not “get” the reality of what you were saying at all?
To say words that are honest and accurate is a great start. But, generating an impact with another that resonates in a deeply authentic way also involves you embodying authenticity in your way of being.
There are two fundamental aspects of authenticity.
One is what you say and do.
The other is your way of being as you are saying and doing.
It is hard to over-estimate how much our attitude and way of being influence the impact we generate. For example, I can say to you, “Come here,” with a playful attitude and demeanor, and it will create a very different impact than if I say it with an attitude of anger, contempt and hostility.
When considering this, it is easy to use authenticity as an excuse to lace an exchange with someone with anger and hostility under the justification of “being authentic.”
What do you do if you desire to be authentic but you are angry, upset, frustrated or irritated? Do you just let it all out in your exchange? If the ultimate goal is to advance the possibility of connection, this is almost never a wise choice.
Here are some tips to consider regarding authentic communication with another when you are experiencing defensive and reactive emotions:
- • Stop and notice your current emotional state. Often we just get caught up in it and act before thinking.
- • If the dominant emotion is reactive or defensive—like anger or contempt—work to identify what is fueling that emotion. Anger is most often a secondary emotion, and in reality is being fueled by sadness, fear, helplessness, or shame.
- • Internally connect to and be present in the underlying emotion rather than the anger when you communicate. This is a game changer in terms of connecting to the other with what is authentically going on for you. Their response will usually be completely different if you communicate, for example, sadness verses anger.
- • If you cannot identify an underlying emotion, and believe the base emotion is actually anger, then calm yourself before speaking and conduct the conversation when you can express your anger in a neutral manner. Otherwise, your angry presence will most likely trigger the other person’s defensiveness and reactivity, which will end the possibility of a healthy conversation.
- • If you feel numb, or are unable to actually feel your emotion in that moment, but have a sense of what it is, then include it in your communication anyway. This will still give the other person a sense of what is going on for you.
- • If the other person is angrily communicating and insists on being angry no matter how disciplined you are in not responding in kind, then call a “time out” and resume the conversation at a time when you are both calm and neutral in expressing your upset.
Connection is a “heart” reality, not a “head” reality.
Cognitive, rational thinking is important, but only the start.
In order to experience deep connection to what is so for you, learning the discipline of being emotionally present is fundamental. Also, being aware of your embodied experience will support you in being as authentically present as possible.
These disciplines sometimes take years of practice to do consistently. But, we can all start now, and work towards them as a possibility whenever we find ourselves disconnected from our authentic emotional self.