The Power of Authenticity

The power of authenticity is that it is the secret to effective collaboration. Collaboration is not about team-building, trust-building, or mind-reading. Collaboration results from the connection of our authentic selves.

Collaboration results from the connection of our authentic selves.

Valerie Patrick

business concepts. the concept of human intelligence. people has an idea. Brain storming

Authenticity is “the quality of being genuine and true to one’s own values” (http://psychologydictionary.org/authenticity/). You need three habits to tap into the power of authenticity for collaboration. The first habit is an unending quest to better understand yourself – your values, your points-of-view, and your areas of expertise. The second habit is seeking different values, points-of-view, and areas of expertise from others. The third habit is expressing your authenticity in a sensitive and respectful way that can be heard and understood by others.

Aristotle said “knowing thyself is the beginning of all wisdom.” In other words, to access wisdom through others, you need to first understand yourself. This speaks to the first habit of better understanding yourself for collaboration. For example, in order to access wisdom on a topic, you need to first understand your point-of-view. By understanding your point-of-view, you can compare and contrast other points-of-view to your point-of-view. In this way, your point-of-view provides a reference point from which to build upon and generate wisdom.

There are many different ways to understand your values, your points-of-view, and your areas of expertise. For example, there are cognitive style or personality inventories such as MBTI (http://www.myersbriggs.org/basics/), DISC (http://www.targettraininginternational.com), The Big Five Inventory (http://fetzer.org/Personality-BigFiveInventory.pdf), and more. In fact, there are so many different cognitive inventories that one researcher put together a four by four matrix for cognitive style that maps the many different inventories onto one new framework (Kozhevnikov, M.; “Cognitive Styles in the Context of Modern Psychology: Toward an Integrated Framework on Cognitive Style,” 2007, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 133, No. 3, p. 464-481). The existence of this matrix illustrates the complexity of cognition: the way we think evolves over time and is shaped by our genetics, our experiences, and our lifestyles. Rather than try to pick “the best one,” take advantages of as many of these inventories as possible to better understand yourself.

The second habit of seeking different perspectives from others results from the relationship between self-awareness and interacting with others. The more you understand your cognitive style relative to that of others, the more you will understand others because the better you can recognize thought patterns similar to and different from your perspective. In fact, a recent study of successful business trainers found a reinforcing relationship between self-awareness and feedback from others (Showjaei, M.R.; and Siuki, M.E.; “A Study of Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Innovative Work Behavior of Managers,” 2014, Management Science Letters, Vol.4, p. 1449-1454). In addition, the ability to understand what others are thinking has been correlated to collective intelligence or the ability of a group to perform well on a variety of tasks (Engel, D.; Woolley, A.W.; Jing, L.X.; Chabris, C.F.; and Malone, T.W.; “Reading the Mind in the Eyes or Reading Between the Lines,” 2014, PLOS ONE, 16 pages; http://journals.plos.org/). Therefore, seeking different perspectives from others not only increases self-understanding, but builds the ability to understand what others are thinking which is key to collaboration.

The third habit of expressing your authenticity in a sensitive and respectful way addresses the emotional component of communication. If you say something in a way that triggers anger, fear, or hurt by another person, then often their thinking is taken over by a different part of the brain responsible for reacting to emotions. Listening for understanding and insight cannot happen without the thinking part of the brain engaged. Therefore, you need to be able to express your perspective in a way that minimizes the impact of these emotions. If you unintentionally trigger a strong reaction from these emotions, then you need to recognize the reaction early enough to address the underlying emotions and get the person you are communicating with back into a “thinking and listening with understanding” state-of-mind.

I think it is counter-intuitive that working well with others starts with knowing yourself. However, if you try tactics to work better with others without knowing yourself well enough, then you can come across as inauthentic and the tactics will likely backfire. If you don’t come across as genuine or authentic, then others will think you have a hidden agenda and this will undermine trust. A loss of trust can make a person more susceptible to anger, fear, and hurt which get in the way of the thinking brain. So knowing yourself helps to manage the emotional side of collaboration. In addition, knowing yourself helps you understand your unique perspective or point-of-view, your blind-spots, and your areas of expertise relative to a collaboration topic. Once you understand how your point-of-view and expertise is different from that of another person, then you better understand how you can create insight and new ideas with that person. It is from where you think differently that new thinking can emerge. Therefore, knowing yourself, authenticity, helps to manage both the emotional and tactical aspects of collaboration.

Knowing yourself, authenticity, helps to manage both the emotional and tactical aspects of collaboration.

Valerie Patrick

If you are interested in learning more about yourself, then take our gender-smart assessment at our next course offering (https://fulcrumconnection.com or register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/science-of-success-for-women-and-men-workshop-tickets-27228467078?aff=es2) or contact me to bring the course to your workplace (412-742-9675).

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