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Authentic or Fake – do you know who you are?

There are lots of blogs on this topic – I found more than 96 million references on our old friend Google. There are lots of descriptors that we probably all would expect from ‘authentic’ people such as;

• They are active listeners.
• They acknowledge their faults and mistakes.
• They take personal responsibility.
• They don’t fake their feelings. Highly authentic people don’t hide their feelings or pretend.
• They don’t worry about pleasing everyone.
• Highly authentic people strive to show compassion.
• They don’t compare their journey to everyone else’s.

I applaud all of that – but how easy is it to be like that when you are faced with workplace challenges that are driven by your boss or another senior manager?

Try to think of a frequent situation where you can absolutely be your true self. Then think of a frequent situation where you know that whilst you may be ticking the ‘active listener’ box (when you may not like what you hear), you can’t tick the ‘they don’t fake their feelings’, or ‘they don’t worry about pleasing everyone’ box.

How do you make peace with yourself when you know that actually you are compromising yourself to keep the peace or to please others or to avoid the dreaded conflict? Having profiled many, many people of all shapes and sizes and levels of seniority, I can tell you that there is a very big leaning towards not wanting to cause conflict. Most people just don’t like it. Some people know that and exploit it to get what they want, and those people are the ones with whom you are probably the least likely to be able to be who you want to be, with. The price we pay? Well, we feed the voices in our heads who are more than happy to chastise us and knock our self-respect a bit further down.

My advice – try and see clearly the 2 different situations where you are authentic and where you are not. Isolate them and break them down; ask yourself why you fear speaking your mind and what the consequence would be if you did and the consequence when you don’t? How do you know what the consequence would be? Are you telling yourself the truth or something that you have imagined or that is based on hearsay? We can only manage what we really understand, and we can only understand if we focus and get really honest with ourselves. Try and reserve judgement; in other words don’t pre-empt what the other person is thinking or going to say. Listen and try and understand what is driving them and then respond. This should help you on the path to being your true self.

Penny Whitelock FinstLM

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