Let’s Be Real: Authenticity, Presence, & Intention
“We are constantly invited to be who we are.” Henry David Thoreau.
At the intersection of intention, content, and delivery is a space created by their alignment or misalignment. When the alignment is perfect, when all parts of communication tell the same story, Presence shows up, fostered by Authenticity.
Harvard professor Amy Cuddy says, “Authenticity doesn’t just mean you’re not filtering what you’re saying, it’s about being able to know and access the best parts of yourself and bring them forward.” Isn’t this what we all want in our leaders – People who are committed to values, driven by a solid belief in a vision and comfortable in their own skin?
Authenticity takes time
For most of us, it takes years. As Carl Jung said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Yet, in the business world of today, one cannot afford to show up as “lying” or “inauthentic” no matter how legitimate the personal quest. And most people don’t strive to show up that way. Rather, they show up as inauthentic because they are afraid to show their true selves, fearing that they may not be accepted, or believing that they need to have a prescribed persona in order to be successful.
However, you can’t hide inauthenticity. In a YouTube video Amy Cuddy did for “BigThink”, she says, “You’ve got words, you’ve got the tone of voice, all of those things come together when you are telling the truth. When you are lying, it leaks out. And when you are being inauthentic, it leaks out just the same.” In other words, people hear it in your voice, see it in your body language, and they know the words and the pictures don’t match.
The secret to the puzzle is to be as authentic as you can be in the moment. Intention-driven communication allows you to do that. The intention is the aim that guides your action. It is the “why” of communication. When you get clear about why you are saying and doing what you are saying and doing, you have a greater chance of being authentic, you can choose your words accordingly, and deliver them with confidence and candor so that all parts of your communication tell the same story.
To do this, you have to ask deep questions and use your answers to shape your communication.
Before an important conversation or presentation, ask yourself
- What I want to accomplish and how am I going to get there?
- What do I want others to do as a result of having this conversation/hearing this presentation? What is my call to action?
- Do I have a hidden agenda? For example, if you say you simply want to give some information, are you actually looking to persuade someone to your point of view? Get honest with yourself.
To be centered in yourself, to put aside the pressure that can result in inauthenticity, it helps to find calm. Navy Seals, yoga practitioners, and opera singers find peace and quiet even in stressful, noisy environments by utilizing “Box Breathing”. Here’s how:
Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, repeat 5 times.