Get Real: Why Authenticity Matters

May 26, 2016    |    Kathleen Redd

I’m probably dating myself when I use the phrase, “Get real!” Here’s how the Urban Dictionary defines it:

"When someone tells you to get real, they want you to get a reality check and to stop behaving as though you're living in a fantasy world." 

Not that I think people are living in a fantasy world when they communicate.

Many times, though, when people talk or present — especially when the stakes are high or the audience is tough — they struggle to be their natural, conversational selves.


My own lesson in getting real.
I remember my first time in a Mandel classroom, when my boss and mentor, Steve Mandel, wasn’t able to train the second day. As I prepared to “fill in” for him, I went into panic mode.  I knew the material and had fun doing my job, but I wasn’t FUNNY. Steve is always so funny!

Now, 27 years later, I’m still having fun at Mandel, and I’m still not funny!  (And, yes, Steve still is.)

The lesson I learned from that experience was that I could never be Steve, and I didn’t need to be. I just needed to be myself — my genuine, authentic self. I just needed to get real.


Why you should get real, too. 
When you show up as who you really are, you connect on a more intimate level with people. You’re able to build more authentic relationships based on trust. That only helps you to be more successful, personally and professionally.

Here are a few tips to help you get real:

Be genuinely curious!
None of the fake stuff. Ask sincere and thoughtful questions to help you better understand the other person’s point of view. Remember what you learn, and link to it in future conversations. Get to know the person behind the point of view.

Listen!
There’s nothing more irritating than knowing the other person is only waiting for you to stop talking so they can start. People will always be more likely to listen to you if you’ve listened to them first! Oh, and by the way, “listen” to body language too. 

KISS!
Yes, the old “keep it simple, sweetheart” reminder works here too. Have a clear plan for your communication, and be ready to flex to meet the needs of those in the room with you. 

Don’t try to impress people with how much you know. Try to help them understand what you know, and how it might help them too. Stay away from smarty-pants words and acronyms, because people hate to ask if they don’t understand something.

Have fun!
Okay, I know, this sounds pretty close to “be funny.” The difference is, we could all stand to take ourselves a little less seriously.

Enjoy the time you spend with people. Give others the opportunity to be their genuine selves. When you’re in a conversation or meeting, really be there. Who knows…you may even get a chance to be funny!


Let us know how we can help you.
Our mission at Mandel is to help everyone be heard. And, we know that one of the best ways to make that happen is to help people communicate as their most authentic selves.

Interested in how we do this? Research-backed training and tools. Learn-by-doing interactive practice. Personalized, in-the-moment coaching and feedback.

To learn more, browse our Think and Speak for Results™ Communication Training Workshops. Or explore how Executive Coaching can help executives within your organization enhance their credibility and impact by honing a more authentic leadership style and voice.