Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Being authentic is being open to everything that is happening now. Most people I speak with confuse being authentic with being truthful that's not to say that you should ever lie but being authentic runs deeper than just being truthful. Being authentic means you're living in the moment listening intently, understanding where someone is coming to you from as far as their speech and body language is telling you.
People's speech and body language will be connected to their past, how they were raised, and in what part of the world they spent their formative years help to form how they communicate. Understanding the social cues as far as they relate to this individual or that individual most importantly the person that you're trying to have an authentic dialogue with is extremely important. So how is it we are to master all of these different contextual understandings. Based on geographic, economic, and Social dynamics there have to be millions.
I'm sure there are a lot of classes you could attend that could try to put into words this understanding but I found what works best for me is to come to each conversation without my own bias. By doing so I'm able to hear what the person is trying to say to me not how the person's words are viewed from my world perspective.
A painter explained getting rid of bias in the process of creating this way. You come into a room with all these other people "your bias" and you're staring at this blank canvas, eventually, you start to develop a dialogue with the canvas. One by one the people you came in with leave the room and you continue this dialogue with the canvas. Eventually, if you're lucky you leave the room but the conversation continues to develop with the canvas and in the end, you have something truly authentic.
So how do we leave our bias at the door? One way is to understand it's not about you it's about what the person is trying to say. Take yourself out of the scenario, If you weren't there and the person was having this conversation by themselves how would you understand it.
When we fight the urge to speak just to be heard or interject our understanding of something we allow for the person to uninterruptedly say everything they are trying to get out. It's amazing sometimes what happens, a person feels connected to, allowing for a true synergy to take place. fighting the urge to speak or have the answer to someone's problem is difficult at first. Over time you will begin to see the fruits of this labor when people have their own a-ha moments.
I can remember a fundraiser I attended with my wife not long ago. As the two of us made our way around the party with her introducing me to people as we went. I can recall being introduced to a young man. He had recently made a big transition in his life and he was eager to talk about it. At that moment my wife made her exit to talk with someone waving her over. I asked this young man how this change was going for him. Over the next few minutes, he spoke about all of the challenges he was facing and how it was affecting him. I allowed him to speak uninterrupted only asking some clarifying questions. When he seemed done he thanked me for listening and I told it was my pleaser to hear him.
A few days later my wife came home from work and as we were preparing dinner she said to me what did you say to that young man at the party. I told her nothing, I just let him tell me his story why? Well, he came into my office today and asked me to tell you thank you, and that everything worked out great. I said that's nice to hear.
The thing is you never know where or when just listening is going to be the greatest gift you can give another person, so why not show up every time.