It’s one of those things that matters to me so much that I made it a value of the Engaging People Company.
It is so important that we are empowered and supported to be our authentic selves. But when we can be, well, just us, we are more creative, more able to connect with others, more effective. When we’re not trying to be who we think we should (ugh. Horrid word, that) be, we can be honest, we can be open, we can bring our whole selves to the party. Which is really good for our wellbeing.
And, it’s really good for those around us as when we our authentic, we can give ‘permission’ for others to be themselves too. I am permanently conscious of the little girl who watches me and how I behave and I want to be an example to her. It’s not always easy but when we are able to just be us it’s so much better.
But it’s not just individuals. Organisations can behave authentically and in doing so, engender trust, create connection, and build relationships. And this includes in how we communicate with and engage people.
So what does that look like?
It means being open and transparent in what is communicated, sharing information in an adult-adult way, empowering – and trusting – people with access to knowledge. And letting people know when and why you can’t share information if you can’t.
It also means saying when things go wrong, not just when they go right. Letting people know the things that might not land so favourably – but doing so in a respectful, mature, manner. It is my experience that complaints and discontent bloom far more when organisations say nothing rather than when bad news is shared up front.
It means giving due attention and respect to the feedback that is shared with an organisation. That doesn’t necessarily mean making changes on the back of the feedback – because that isn’t always possible. But communicating to people that that they really, really have been listened to – that their feedback is welcomed and valued – and then letting them know what is going to happen with what’s been said.
It means creating a warm tone of ‘we’ and ‘you’, giving a personality to the communications rather than delivering messages as a cool, distant entity. After all, people relate to people and it is people that work for organisations.
And it means ensuring there isn’t a disconnect between what is said and what is done. Say it, mean it, do it – and then let people know that you’ve done it.
Because authenticity is a powerful component in how we build connections with each other. And isn’t it just easier when we can just be us?