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Let's get real: a three part series on candor


Part 1: What is authenticity?

If you’ve ever taken any training in social styles or leadership development, you’re probably familiar with the language of self-fulfilment, self-realization, and self-actualization or in short, ‘authenticity’. Said differently, shaping ourselves as an authentic person has become ideal in contemporary culture.

While being authentic sounds great, I mean who would disagree with transparency and honesty, the reality is that when you dig deeper, you’ll find a lot of questions unanswered, like:

  • Is it even possible for anyone to be truly authentic in anything?

  • Are there times when we must hide our feelings, and keep certain information from others for the sake of followers?

  • Is it possible for us to be “authentic” within a business environment where disclosure can put us at risk?

  • Is authenticity something that is done for the benefit of followers, or a principle that creates smugness focusing on a higher principle?

Because of questions like these, authenticity seems like a paradox rather than a standard.

Maybe being truly authentic simply sounds to good to be true. After all, who would try to find an organization, a conversation, a relationship that is phony and disingenuous. But maybe they all are. Too cynical?

The reality is authenticity is simply not that simple. Take social media platforms like Snapchat, for example, which can be summed up by one word - filter. While many of us try to find the perfect combination of contrast, brightness, fade, and blur to best show off our strategically-placed snap, social media has become one giant filter. We try to be so careful about what we share and how we project the lives we’re living – how authentic is that.

But here’s a tip to being more authentic – candor. As a tool candor does wonders for moving your needle further toward self-fulfilment, self-realization, self-actualization.

Okay, sounds great, but what is it and how can it make me more authentic? Well candor:

  • is respectful and direct dialogue

  • requires us to explore the root of our core beliefs and perceptions, and those of others

  • is about clarifying our own thinking and being receptive to what others think in return

  • is working to learn, grow and be more effective together

But most importantly, candor is the ability to authentically challenge and show that you personally care. It means saying what you think while also giving a damn about the person you’re saying it to.

Make sure to check out the next issue of Comm|Unity Pulse to learn more a about candor and watch Adam Grants podcast, How to Love Criticism, also featured on this weeks Read, Watch, Listen list.

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