65 thoughts on “Don’t Be Fooled by Smoke and Mirrors: 12 Traits of Truly Authentic People

  • February 19, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Nicely researched and written Kristi. Thanks for publishing this. I will be sure to share it with my team.

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    • February 21, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      Hi Matt! I am so glad that you enjoyed the article. I hope your team finds some value in it as well!

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  • February 21, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Thank you for a very insightful article. It is both practical and thought-provoking.

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  • February 21, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    The traits that you listed are all characteristics that my parents worked to instill in my siblings and me as children. They are long gone and never gave us a list of those traits, so yours is an excellent reminder of the attitudes of mind that keep one true to one’s self and, by extension, the people around us. The world sure could use a lot more transparency and empathy. I shall share this article and keep it as a reminder of the life we should all strive to live.

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    • February 21, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      Thank you for your comment. That was well said! I am so glad to hear that the article resonated with you. Take care!

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  • February 22, 2018 at 12:52 am

    Kristi,

    The third paragraph and about college students today being more narcissistic and less empathetic explains somethings I’ve known but never really had it put in numbers and on paper. Friendship dynamics are certainly different today, and I hear from so many friends that they have a hard time keeping friends and they don’t know why. Their biggest complaint is that the so-called “friend” only come around when they need something. Never to just hang out and catch up. The thing that hurts my mother the most is this very problem. This is an issue that touches so many areas. Friendship, romantic relationships, work, and even passing interactions.

    Great article. This is something that definitely needs to be said, and needs more attention. This is a smaller step in the grand scheme of making our world just a bit better to live in.

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    • February 23, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Thank you for sharing your insight. I am glad you enjoyed the article!

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    • February 24, 2018 at 9:40 am

      I do not think authentic people have to worry about someone who just comes around to say use them> Authentic people are too busy blazing their own trail and not worrying about what another person is doing.

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      • February 24, 2018 at 10:41 am

        HI Juanita: I agree that authentic people are innovators and do not stop forward progress as a result of encountering less-than-authentic people. However, it is always prudent to be aware of people that may step in for any reason less-than-authentic. You called these individuals users, I agree. It takes literally alot of work to be authentic. Discerning users, and the risks involved when interacting with users for any reason, is a skill learned usually by the school of hard knocks. Authentic people may have a better awareness of identifying users, takers, and manipulators, and most importantly know how to handle situations with credibility, remaining authentic. One trait of authentic people is learning from mistakes, taking what is valuable from the reflection process. Sometimes we need to share, and at least, learn to “play nice in the sandbox” of life. Users will eventually move on, or in the ideal case, desire to change and desire to become more authentic. As an aspiring authentic person, I hope to be a little bit of a change agent in the world, or at least my corner of the universe.

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      • February 27, 2018 at 3:09 pm

        HI, Juanita,

        I would say that authentic people have MORE to worry about regarding users. Authentic people are busy and certainly understand the bumps in life making things difficult. Being open, honest, and non judgemental, authentic people are generally living within the prism of their perspective meaning they believe most people are working towards being authentic. Authentic people are attractive to users, have a lot to offer users, and may not be the best judge of character.

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      • April 3, 2019 at 3:03 am

        I agree with this take. I would like to think I represent the traits of an authentic person, and my relationships have often turned out to be with narcissists. I project my own values onto others and don’t always realise when someone is trying to manipulate me. Interesting article, thank you.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 8:38 am

    This is a great piece. So true that I have nothing to add.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Hi Kristi,

    Probably one of the best blogs I’ve read in months to be honest. Thank you for this nugget of truth our culture needs so badly. Posted to LinkedIn and Twitter. Thank you again. Looking forward to more good things to come.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Thanks! Good to better understand the positive side of authentic uniqueness. Sharing

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  • February 24, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I appreciate your 12 trait analysis. However, may I humbly share that there was a time when authenticity traits went undefined. Authenticity was plain and simple: you either were or you weren’t, and people knew so, either way, by how one carried themselves. I was raised in a post WWII New York Italian family. If one was disingenuous, regardless the circumstances, one received the look. He or she in receipt of the look either heeded it or they didn’t – there was no in-between. The look could come from a parent, a teacher, a police officer, a friend, or, a stranger. The look had one purpose: to give cause to one out of line to stop and think about their actions or words. Back then, words and actions had consequences. Oh, yes, consequences are a factor today, but, today people don’t care as we did back the. Police officers walked their beat and twirled their day or night sticks (night sticks were longer than day sticks). We didn’t fear police officers – we respected them. We respected them because we respected our parents, our teachers, and other adults deserving and worthy of respect. There was nothing authoritarian about the life we were raised in. We aspired accordingly, to continue the march, defending that which we knew to be true – you reap what you sow. Today’s overall mess is a direct result of allowing weeds to grow, and, more importantly, allowing weeds to replace the lush green grass of home. Politics screwed up everything we have at our doorsteps today. When entitlements all of a sudden became rights, the toilet got wider and deeper. Tom Brokaw named my folks, those folks of all baby boomers, THE GREATEST GENERATION, in his book of the same name. If we don’t preserve the intestinal fortitude THE GREATEST GENERATION fought and died for – even during peace time post WWII – we are doomed.

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    • September 27, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      Thank you for your insight. I share your thoughts. I am an optimist and see signs everywhere of genuine relationships, glimpses though some may be, they’re still there. I do not believe we are doomed, as you say, I believe we are changing fast and furiously into the future. As Crosby, Stills and Nash sang: Teach your children/parents well…

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 9:30 am

    This article is highly idealized. It seems to come from the perspective of someone who has never been faced with expressing an unpopular opinion or having something shameful about themselves that would automatically put people off. Also, having unpopular opinions goes hand in hand with judging others. A person usually becomes quite wary and jaded after they have experienced a significant amount of rejection. Only someone who is very lucky or very selfish can live a life in perfect alignment with their values. The rest of us must consider the impact and reprocusions of our truthfulness on the people around us and exercise caution and care in how authentic we can be. Reality.

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    • February 24, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Correct. Why would you expect this to be easy?

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      • February 24, 2018 at 10:14 am

        I’m saying that the article contradicts itself by stating that an authentic person doesn’t judge others but also freely expresses unpopular opinions. Maybe this author only thinks her opinions are somehow unique when in reality she has mainstream opinions that most people will like her for…maybe even pat her on the back and say “how brave” “how honest.” True authenticity results in complete social alienation and isolation, unless you are a person who is so lucky that you have never faced any conflict between your internal values and those of the people around you. The fact that my comments on this piece are the only negative ones, and that someone immediately jumps to her defense, proves my point that the consequence of being authentic is to be shunned by others.

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      • February 25, 2018 at 7:47 pm

        I agree with you, Alex. I think the article is worthwhile, as it tries to give some idea of what it means to be authentic. What the article is missing is the key point that authenticity is a practice. Its a path, not a destination. One is always striving to be authentic. And almost no one is fully authentic all the time; nearly everyone occasionally slips into insincerity.

        Furthermore, as you state, its much easier to be authentic if one happens to be in an environment that is congruent to his or her values. However, are most people able to be authentic when ‘the going gets tough?’ I would say based on my own experience, and by observing others, absolutely not.

        Example: you are working in as a researcher in a big company, and find to your shock that your product causes substantial harm. You, being the authentic person you are, bring this up to your supervisors. They tell you to falsify data and keep your mouth shut. Will you speak out even if you will be fired, and blacklisted from getting other jobs in the field? What if you are the sole breadwinner for your family? Are you willing to face stalking and death threats? What if your spouse divorces you and takes away the kids? And all your friends suddenly disappear, as they do not want to be around someone who has ‘fallen’ so low; someone who is now jobless and perhaps depressed and angry?

        Yeah, being truly authentic is not easy at all, and is often isolating. The vast majority of us will never be able to reach this level of authenticity. Those who do are true heroes. The rest of us can just practice authenticity the best we are able to, and humbly admit that we slip at times.

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      • February 26, 2018 at 7:24 am

        I see your point Alex, but I’m not sure I agree. Expressing positions that are not popular can come across as judgement, but is that inevitable? I often go against the grain and challenge other people’s positions, often popular ones, and I know I come across as judgemental. That’s because I don’t do it well. It’s something I have to work on. However, do I know people who do it well and are not perceived as judgemental. I think it can be done. For people like me, without the natural ability, it may require a lot of work, but I think it can be done.

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    • February 24, 2018 at 5:49 pm

      Could be you’re confusing diplomacy with narcissism. We all have family members, neighbors and other acquaintances that may be offended at some of our activities or interests, and so we don’t dwell on these subjects when visiting them. I don’t recommend a good steakhouse to clients who are hindus, nor to I discuss feral hog hunting with clients who are muslim–although I do enjoy a good steak now and then, and smoking game animals I’ve hunted, including feral hogs. Because I know that hindus believe cattle to be sacred, and muslims see hogs as unclean, I don’t raise these subjects so as not to be offensive. Doesn’t make me a narcissist, just considerate of the feelings of others.

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    • February 27, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      Alex,

      This article describes me very well. I do express unpopular opinions on a regular basis. An example, I live in an area that is very conservative Christian. A group of neighbors were railing against gay marriage as an abomination against God. I could have walked away and that would have been ok under different circumstances, it’s still authentic to not engage; however, my conscience required that I respond. So I quietly stated that I had a differing opinion. I stated very simply that I support gay marriage. They are people and deserve our respect and inclusion and my belief in God requires people to be in bonded committed relationships. I also stated that I follow Jesus in the golden rule, do unto others….. I wasn’t certain how my opinion would be received but I had to be true to myself.

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    • April 4, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      Your response helped me understand something that I felt was missing from the article as well.
      It’s all well and good to express popular views, but when you like something that other people don’t it is very isolating in terms of your social contacts being limited

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  • February 24, 2018 at 9:30 am

    In my profession, I interview people everyday. Your findings and reflections are spot on. Thank you

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  • February 24, 2018 at 9:36 am

    I fit the perfect description of everything you speak against here. I have grown up fighting against the habits of superficiality and hiding that were taught to me, being raised by parents that instilled a bit too well in my siblings and I the belief that others come before ourselves in all situations, and that what we are is not worth knowing or loving and must be kept secret. Though I have spent the past 20 years curing myself of sundry psychological programmings these are the hardest to cure, persisting well past their welcome. I have such deep and meaningful relationships with those that know me well, but often new people cannot get past the mistrust that the programmed mask causes them to feel.
    I get so frustrated that this fake smile and fake sing-song-ey voice pops up when speaking to strangers or, online, the inability to be authentic, but I don’t realize it’s happened until after the fact, and cannot seem to be present during this act or else I would just be myself. It has caused me to recede from social media and the world in general, as conversations I start with new people usually end in prolonged silences on their part, which is painful because if they only knew the real me….
    I say all this to make the point that, while this is an essential dialogue to have these days, it’s important to remember that just because someone hides behind smoke and mirrors initially, doesn’t mean that they are not worth knowing or trusting. It may just mean they need to get to know you better before showing their true self.

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    • February 24, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      I know exactly how you feel, I too have struggled with being myself upon first meeting people especially coworkers. I know that I am a honest and sincere person but for whatever reason, probably the need for everyone to like me, I come off insincere and for lack of better word, strange. I get nervous and anxious around people hence I also tend to not engage with others afraid I will come off as unlikable. I guess I don’t make good first impressions but like you said if they were to get to know the real me they would find a person who genuinely cares about people and family. I just want to let you know that you aren’t alone and just because we perhaps don’t always exude these 12 points doesn’t mean we aren’t them at our core. We keep trying and that is all you can ask of someone.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Hmm, feminization of the society is not working out as planned, is it. Unintended consequences and all that.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 9:38 am

    I enjoyed the article but did not see the part where the authentic person creates her own path, and I don’t agree that not being completely to all is about fear.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 9:42 am

    Nice article. I have always tried to live that way. It was never easy, but I am pleased with the results and have no regrets.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Nice article,but would liked to have references to the two major studies cited. Maybe that is not possible do not know, but from what I seem to see your article is pretty well dead on. It seems much more lonely walking the streets with everyone’s face in a device, too busy to smile.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 9:56 am

    I get what you are saying about studies of college students, but I do not think it is technology, I think it is the influence of family and what kids are brought up with in their own lives. I am very heartened this week that students of Stoneman Douglas are protesting the weak gun laws in the U.S., laws that enable anyone to get a gun. These kids are speaking out with passion. Look at the narcissism of the government representatives, many who are very much older than the group you are talking about, they have very little empathy for the poor, the disabled, the weaker members of our society. Mulvaney even said it was compassionate to cut Meals On Wheels, a program designed to help shut ins and elderly folks. Narcissism says, we do not care about your worries, our rights are more important than helping you. That, in a nutshell, is our government, led by the biggest narcissist of all, one who was brought up with wealth and had a racist father.

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    • February 24, 2018 at 9:50 pm

      What is happening to our society isn’t defined or initiated by politics nor by one individual who has been President for one year. It is a result of a continuing larger and larger disconnect between the people to whom we’re supposed to be closest and from whom we’re supposed to learn how to relate to others. This change began in the early 1990’s with video games and home computers which were fun and cool. As the entire genre has matured its effects on society as a whole are beginning to be clearer. It’s much easier to put a toddler in front of an iPad for entertainment than to show him/her the world and answer all the who/what/when/where questions they have. It’s easier to give a 7 year old a phone and let her play games or watch videos than to talk about what happened in school today or to listen to her read a book. 10 year olds are playing violent video games where death and mass destruction are just things that happen on the screen – they have no connection to or concept of the horrific pain such acts cause in real life. And it’s infinitely easier to give into a surly teenager and let them text their friends than to try to relate to them and their world. How many photographs and selfies have been taken of a child by the time they’re 10 – I’ve never seen a figure but I think it likely numbers in the thousands. That one habit alone produces an incredibly narcissistic outlook. Too many of us have relinquished parenting to the internet and social media and it’s not producing “authentic” people who know how to relate to others and to think for themselves, but rather is producing a new society of people who are defined by what they read on their telephones or by how many likes they’ve gotten on the latest selfie.

      Thank you Kristi Tackett-Newburg for a truly excellent article.

      Juanita I replied to you in this way to say that blame never unites or solves anything. If Donald Trump was the problem there would have been no mass shootings in previous administrations. We need to look at the much larger picture of how technology is shaping society and, if we feel that the direction is not positive, begin making incredibly difficult changes now which will only be realized 25 to 30 years from now. Technology isn’t making us more empathetic and caring, but much less so.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Someone I had considered a good friend turned out not to be, once I came to understand why our face-to-face behavior always left me feeling there was something much lacking in our conversations. Only meeting him at professional conferences every year or so, John would talk and listen, but he would do so while constantly looking over my shoulder longingly, as if he was expecting to meet someone else much more important, professionally famous than I. This behavior was repeated with everyone. Once I understood the hidden messages there, I never bothered to meet him again.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Wonderful information regarding the effect social media plays on an issue I have been interested in and labeled “two-dimensional communication”. As a college nursing professor, I am tasked with guiding students that may feel most comfortable and therefore use digital and instant communication often as their preferred method of relating. In a healthcare environment, they must then switch to face-to-face communication with patients, families, and healthcare team peers and co-workers. The task of actually speaking with individuals in a new role (nurse or nursing student) often is terrifying. We concentrate much time in the beginning of their clinical experience to “talking” and communicating, and evaluating their own methods of communication. The emerging research involving millennials is informative and I appreciate the informational summary you provided.

    Over the years, I am concerned and seen a shift in the ability of people in general to be in real relationships, long lasting, or authentic in the moment. I do believe the use of “two-dimensional” communication is one of the culprits of this negative shift. I am concerned we are creating, as a result of improving access to communication and information, future generations of non-communicating people and as you described so well non-authentic people.

    Love your dissertation topic. EI is seen so often, again in my teaching setting, and when I step back to reflect on personal or work challenges, EI is there as well. Please keep me informed of your research. I would love to follow your findings.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 10:26 am

    This is wonderful article that should be read by the masses. We need to get back to the ideals our parents were raised with. I’m trying to raise a child with these values, and it’s hard in this day & age when they need to be the same as their peers or they get eaten alive. I have few friends myself because I find genuine people hard to come by. Where do these people live? That’s where I want to be. Great points in this piece.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Nice ideals to strive for but are they realistic? I have a problem with #6, 10, & 12.

    You state: “They stick to what they believe and are not swayed by undue criticism of others.” The reality is, when I am feeling highly empathic, I AM affected by negativity from others, even swayed by it. If someone has a different viewpoint, I will take it into consideration, especially if they are someone I value.

    If a person is not ego driven, will they not listen to others?

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding something & you certainly have done your research. I just find this article a little too simplistic.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Much to think about here. Would like to think I stack up favorably but will have to ruminate on the different points to see if I am being true to the truth. If I decide I am not the person you outline, then I at least have a blueprint for being better. Thanks for this. I will indeed share it.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Ms. Tackett-Newburg’s “list” corresponds quite closely to what I have observed in my 73 years on this earth. Today, the obsession is to be “liked”. Being “liked” is a child’s concern; because a child is helpless, he or she fears being deprived because of not being “liked.” Being “liked” is important in the commercial world, because who wants to do business with someone he or she does not like? BUT: Nobody truly “likes” anyone they cannot trust, so being “liked” is the functional equivalent of being “not disliked.” Here is something I discovered more than 50 years ago: It is better to be respected than to be liked. Respect will get you father than being liked; the difference is that respect will draw the best people to you. The second thing I learned, much more slowly, is the importance of maintaining relationships only with the highest-quality people.

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    • February 27, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      I concentrate on being myself. If people like what they see, they’ll want to approach and if they don’t, they won’t. I cannot say that being authentic wins me a bunch of friends or makes me popular but I find I’m generally respected and accepted in any environment I find myself within some more than others.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I’d love to see the citations for the Harvard and Michigan studies. My research is on SEL in schools. Can you add those?

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    • February 25, 2018 at 11:15 am

      Hi Beth! Here are the citations for the studies referenced in the article:

      Harvard Graduate School of Education, Pathways to Prosperity Project. (2011, February).
      Pathways to prosperity: Meeting the challenge of preparing young Americans for the 21st century. Retrieved from http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/features/2011/Pathways_to_Prosperity_Feb201 1.pdf

      Jordan, A. H., Monin, B., Dweck, C. S., Lovett, B. J., John, O. P., & Gross, J. J. (2011). Misery has more company than people think: Underestimating the prevalence of others’ negative emotions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(1), 120-135.

      Konrath, S. H., O’Brien, E. H., & Hsing, C. (2011). Changes in dispositional empathy in American college students over time: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15(2), 180-198.

      Twenge, J. M., Konrath, S., Foster, J. D., Keith Campbell, W., & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Egos inflating over time: A cross‐temporal meta‐analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. Journal of personality, 76(4), 875-902.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Some have commented “nicely researched”. What research? Who conducted the studies? I don’t see any data, and no references. Most of this is simply wishful thinking brainstorming. For example, “They Make You Feel at Ease”. That sounds more like the art of a con man/woman. Filling up the blogosphere with sociological/psychological myths is all this article is.

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    • February 25, 2018 at 11:18 am

      Hello!

      Here are the references for the studies that are cited in the article. I hope that helps!

      Harvard Graduate School of Education, Pathways to Prosperity Project. (2011, February).
      Pathways to prosperity: Meeting the challenge of preparing young Americans for the 21st century. Retrieved from http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/features/2011/Pathways_to_Prosperity_Feb201 1.pdf

      Jordan, A. H., Monin, B., Dweck, C. S., Lovett, B. J., John, O. P., & Gross, J. J. (2011). Misery has more company than people think: Underestimating the prevalence of others’ negative emotions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(1), 120-135.

      Konrath, S. H., O’Brien, E. H., & Hsing, C. (2011). Changes in dispositional empathy in American college students over time: A meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15(2), 180-198.

      Twenge, J. M., Konrath, S., Foster, J. D., Keith Campbell, W., & Bushman, B. J. (2008). Egos inflating over time: A cross‐temporal meta‐analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. Journal of personality, 76(4), 875-902.

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Hi Kristi, I’m a headhunter and I have a hard time believing that 80% of professional success is based on Emotional Intelligence as opposed to technical skills.

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    • February 25, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Hello,

      This claim was based on the results of a Harvard survey published in 2011. The paper discusses the importance of college grads possessing the necessary skills to manage stress, adapt to change, and navigate interpersonal relationships in the workplace.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 11:46 am

    Here are my Old Skol principles:

    CARPE STAGE (Seize the Stage):

    Courageous; lead by example; don’t be a sheep (follower); embody strength with humility
    Accountable: If you make a mistake, admit your error; right a wrong if necessary
    Respectful to yourself and others: in the way you communicate (writing: grammar/spelling; and speech), in the way you dress, in your mental/physical health, and in the way you act; love yourself; show consideration, be compassionate
    Passionate, then work hard pursuing that endeavor
    Enlightened: be open-minded; demonstrate the ability to learn anything from anyone
    Selfless: Give more than you take; live unconditionally
    Trustworthy: If you say you are going to do something or be somewhere, follow through every time; show consistency–people should always know what they’re getting
    Appreciative of the special people in your life; be grateful for the things you have
    Genuine: never apologize for being you; be real, be original
    Engaging: turn off your devices in social situations; make eye contact; be a good listener; be present-oriented

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    • February 25, 2018 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks Colin,

      What you listed is just good character and good manners. I was a guest at a members only club the other day and throughout the entire time my hosts were on their phones even though phones weren’t allowed in that particular area. I left early because they were swearing and calling someone who THEY wronged a the b word. As a woman, I felt extremely uncomfortable. These weren’t gentlemen! I wondered if I really wanted to be a member of that club. Maybe it was just those guys, but something tells me it’s just the culture there. I always thought those clubs were for people of good character, but these days anything goes.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    I truly appreciated this article as it brought so many things into light. I feel that with the advent of social media and cell phones the later generations are losing the ability to feel and communicate in real life situations, no empathy, no respect and to be true to oneself as an “authentic” person is more and more difficult. THANK YOU so much for the wonderful outline of that person, I can only try to be a better one. You are inspiring.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    This read like a hitpiece on the youth in the beginning. But what do we have here. A baby boomer complaining about the narcissism of college students and blaming it on social media. When it’s actually the world in which the baby boomer has brought their kids into. Wages haven’t matched inflation in over 20 years. Kids born today will not even know the definition of a pension. Social Security will be broke by the time they reach that age. Baby boomers have also embroiled the US in perpetual war, baby boomers have made it clear that foreigners are more important than their own children, I could go on and on. Society is on the decline in the US and baby boomers, the children of the greatest generation ironically, have set the country on a spiral it may not recover from.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Authenticity is not something you can analyze by associating different traits with it.

    That’s just more mindless words on a blog.

    Like human decency, it can’t really be nailed down yet we know it when we see it.

    By defining authenticity in this way you actually subvert it into something fluffy and less authentic.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Thank you very much for writing this article. There are some interesting thoughts and ideas, however, I find myself also disturbed by your inferences and their often extremely limited subjectivity rather than objective, universal measure by which to get a sense of a person’s ‘authenticity’… whether or not they have a personality type that one likes, respects or resonates with on a some level. The article feels a bit like the psychological equivalent of ‘fat shaming’… one is authentic only if one possesses a certain small spectrum of traits that you feel are desirable. But by the definition of ‘authentic’, anyone exhibiting many of the external traits to which you allude would be truly authentic only if their reality/psychological capacity were all of those desirable attributes you described.

    Perhaps a better description of the person illustrated by these 12 ‘traits’ (although there are actually many traits within the overall heading of each trait) is an “emotionally evolved, psychologically ideal, self-assured, socially admirable” person (or if there is a technical term that envelopes all those things.)

    Your first point, “Their Words and Actions Are Congruent” is, I agree, one of the most basic indicators of a person is who seems to be authentic/genuine/sincere and those that, as it says in the quote included, ‘try’ to put up a front, a facade and impress people are not authentic and genuine. ‘Try’ is the key word, to me, however, because some people are GENUINELY, shy, passive, reserved, insecure, neurotic, quick-to-anger, et al. If a person is truly insecure and it shows in their actions and words, are they not authentic?

    Not all authentic people are as extroverted and in-your-face as the type of person you describe throughout your article: “What you see is what you get.” “They tell and live their truth even when it is difficult to do so.” Many people who are that in-your-face, in my experience, are not at all authentic, but rather feel the need to ‘tell’ their truth rather than just live it and let people around them perceive it for themselves because they are trying to convince others and maybe even themselves who they are which is the opposite of authentic, to me. People who are apparently very secure, self-assured people can keep a facade for a very long time, if not all of their lives, because these are desirable attributes in society. But if their truth behind closed doors is different, are they still authentic?

    In today’s jargon, the type of person you describe in this article would be considered to have a high emotional IQ. But are only people who, for whatever reasons, have had the background to cultivate such a thing the only people that are authentic? Even a sociopath can’t help who they are so when they do things that come naturally to them, that put their actions in perfect alignment with their inner sense of self to whatever extent that exists, the fact that those things are often in diametric opposition to socially acceptable actions and traits doesn’t, to me, make the sociopath any less ‘authentic’. As a matter of fact, it indicates a very authentic (willing to be who they are, true to themselves, no matter what the cost, right?) person, albeit one that is less than desirable or productive in society.

    Close-minded people are often more ‘authentic’ than most by definition simply because their sense of self is so locked-in and static that they are completely who they are with no doubt or opening for the doubt required to accept that other opinions may have merit worth considering.

    Ultimately, the people that may very well be ‘authentic’ but not necessarily emotionally evolved or embody the psychological definitions of well-adjusted ‘normal’ people, who are extroverted and fit many of the descriptions you have used to illustrate each of your points are also people that in no way put other people at ease, especially when following their convictions involves questioning the status quo or maintaining high standards. Again, having and being perfectly in line with a very defined moral or other code can make it impossible for some people not to be judgemental. Just being highly passionate can turn off other people (of course, this is very much about smoke and mirrors — being turned off by someone is more about the person being turned off often than the one doing the turning off. At least in my experience.)

    The superficiality and material object points definitely can be true, but to quote “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”… “Yeah, she’s a phony, but she’s a real phony. She really believes herself.” If a person truly values their looks as their best asset (which, for some people, it truly can be) or even material possessions (maybe because of their quality or the the hard work that went in to getting those things making them markers in a life of effort, not necessarily to compete with the neighbors or inflate their self-worth through the eyes of others) I guess I don’t understand how those people are inauthentic. Even confident and self-assured people do value being liked and some really enjoy the spotlight as well. This ties into the whole idea that it’s not about ego for authentic people, but again, EVERYONE is motivated by ego on one level or another, no? Yes, later in your article you do mention this, but not that it contradicts what you said earlier.

    Again, all of these characteristics and habits you mention define a self-confident person to one degree or another, or perhaps a caricature of the most well-adjusted type of extrovert on the planet (or at least in this country, as many of these attributes would in no way be an indicator of anything close to authentic in many other cultures) but all of these attributes are only truly authentic, in my understanding, if they are reflective of inner self, of who the person truly is, from the inside out, in their own understanding.

    Your points to support the idea that authentic people “Cultivate Meaningful Relationships” I found a bit at odds with many of your other points. For example, living by an adage that indicates that the value of a person is indicated as an average of those closest to them contradicts everything else that has been said prior to this. That, to me, is more about insecurity and the need to feel ‘right’ and vindicated by looking toward those around you instead of being self-assured and clear in who you are then living that truth thereby being an indicator of authenticity. In my experience, it is human nature to, for the most part, hang around with people who are like you and share the same values, including the shallow, the materialistic, the philanthropic, the intellectuals, the freaks and geeks and religious zealots… the most evolved and authentic people I know all have an eclectic mix of people in their inner circles (back to that open-mindedness). If a person who is authentic chooses only friends “who will build them up and make them a better person,” then how, too, can it be that “They Are Not Driven by Ego”? I do agree that authentic individuals do not take credit due others, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need recognition and approval for what they do accomplish. EVERYONE can be guilty of hubris, however, even the most genuine, authentic person you have every met, but to me that has nothing to do with being genuine or authentic.

    The details involved in your final two points, “They Have Strong Character” and “They Live in the Moment and Create Their Own Paths” … they honestly feel like filler to bring your article up to 12 points. There are a number of attributes listed under these two topics that have been said again and again in the previous points but are really about being ‘desirable’ qualities rather than necessarily indicators of authenticity in a person’s character. Not needing others approval, ‘saying what they mean’ (some very authentic people believe ‘actions speak louder than words’), sticking to morality and principles (I’m guessing that you would not necessarily find a cannibal particularly authentic and yet, they stick to their morality and principals. Turning vegetarian while craving flesh would make them inauthentic would it not?) People who are ‘easily swayed by superficialities’ may not have the strongest character or convictions, but they may truly be that way on the inside as well as outwardly… making them the embodiment of authenticity. Along the same line, I am not certain that the ‘demonstration’ of gratitude has a direct relationship to authenticity. Being a grateful person is a very nice way to be and demonstrating that gratitude is a great way to let people know how grateful you are, but if you demonstrate gratitude you don’t feel, it makes you as fake as the plastic flowers you are effusively thanking your boyfriend for while internally berating him for being too cheap to buy you REAL roses. I suppose at least you would be puting him at ease and making him be more drawn to you than if you hadn’t ‘demonstrated’ gratitude…

    The rest of the final point detail is again, all about being a very secure, self-assured, well-adjusted person… can be wonderful qualities, all, but not clear indicators of authenticity. Many people with personality disorders, grifters, con-men/women, megalomaniancs in all walks of life “do not allow the past to get in the way of their future…tend to have fewer worries about their ability to get what they want from life…stick to what they believe and are not swayed by undue criticism of others…follow their own internal compasses, using their principles and values as a guiding force”…although that doesn’t always benefit anyone but themselves. They are authentic, too, but not in the way it seems like you may have meant to originally convey in your article.

    What it comes down to is EVERYONE has their strengths and weaknesses, their unique combination of personality traits, their limitations. This list seems to idealize a certain mentality type and approach to life and declares that type of person to be more real, more sincere, more ‘authentic’ than people who have a different set of traits. I feel like there is two topics too intermixed for either to be clear or accurate. A very short list of truly universal attributes (whether a person is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘moral’ or ‘amoral’, ‘easy to like’ or ‘difficult to get relate to’) that indicate how sincere, real, genuine, AUTHENTIC a person truly is covered here. The much more elaborated and clearly related attributes that are about characteristics that you (and many others, including myself) find valuable and attractive in others… but do they indicate authenticity? The universal attributes on the short list could help check the ideal person’s authenticity, but could also remind us all that some people we may find hard to take or understand are also being their authentic selves.

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    • October 27, 2018 at 11:09 am

      I love every word of this. Please contact me so that I can ask you about publishing some of your comments. lynchburgcp at gmail dot com

      Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Awesome article. Very well written and easy to understand!!
    thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    This article seems to conflate being authentic and a lot of other admirable traits. Some of the most authentic people were able to easily be that way because they just didn’t care how other people felt, about them, or otherwise. On the flip side, I’ve met some wonderful people who feel the need to be perfect, or at least perceived as perfect. Being authentic is great but it hasn’t got much to do with most of these traits.

    Reply
    • February 25, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      They didn’t care about how other people felt? That’s not authentic, that’s narcissistic! How can you be authentic and not care about others? I guess if they come up to you and say ‘I don’t care about you. F off’ then they are being as authentic as they can be. But I don’t think that’s the same type of authentic the author is writing about.

      Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 8:14 am

    I have been attempting to live my life by these standards since going through therapy 30 years ago. It is so nice to see them written down in such brevity and clarity. Being generous, open, kind and unafraid is the best way of being, how sad that so few try it. Thank you for a great read. I have added it to my library!

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  • February 25, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    I try to live these steps but fall short sometimes. I really struggle with envy. Someone said they feel envy because they are aging and haven’t achieved what others seem to have achieved. I feel the same way. I know my buttons are envy and competition, so scrupulous people can see that and manipulate me that way. In fact, my mother used to all the time. My whole childhood was a series of being compared to or pinned against any one of my 3 siblings. I just have to sit still and reflect upon that when I do feel the envy rising up in me at times.

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  • March 1, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Brilliant article and so well researched and written. It segways perfectly with my articles on the pandemic of narcissism and identifying and dealing with toxic people. Thank you so much. I have updated my articles to reference yours.

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  • June 5, 2018 at 11:05 am

    In my opinion, authenticity is not about being afraid to be wrong or different. People who are genuinely authentic “say/do what they mean and mean what they say/do.” There are no morals involved here. Criminals can be authentic in their being anti-social; just as priests and nuns can be authentic in their being unconditionally compassionate. A true test of authenticity is when you ask a difficult question and everyone takes sides. The ones who stick to their guns even on their lonesome and even when they may be wrong are the authentic persons.

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  • July 9, 2018 at 5:12 am

    Difficult for some of us to be authentic while looking into an inner void created by background issues which may have been created and impinged by memory blanking trauma.
    Looking for such a hero /heroine within ourselves in these circumstances is nigh well impossible because trauma can often blank or eclipse any real sense of personal centre, and survival in the world may entail role playing i.e. creating some sort of outer mask or masks which can actually be way off what is our true nature.
    The ideals posited in this blog are very good, and worthwhile pursuing, but for some including myself there is often a requirement to achieve a state of individuation before adopting these.
    And it may well be that as such, given the ethos of finding a sense of personal integrity, they could be interchangeable.

    Reply
  • July 26, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Wonderful, most anyone alive to day can use this great info. Intesting bc I am very athetic but do not have 3 of these traits. Sometimes I do not live in the moment. More than half the time I’m not great at making people I don’t know well feel at ease.

    I have all the kind, real, non-superficial traits and I like to say what I mean and mean what I say.

    The number one trait people say about me is very honest. I grew up with humble , quiet people and honesty was almost all I knew was I got into my teen years and older. Once in a while people are very surprised by my honesty. People just expect BS.

    I’d have more friends if I were less homest/more politically correct. But I am too PC on some subjects. Does any of this sound like someone who would have few friends??

    Reply
  • September 21, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Thank you for the article and ‘fridge magnet’ list.
    I don’t just casually tell people I’ll do something and then not do it. Mostly when I cannot do what I said it’s because of losing my credibility. I know it sounds strange. For example, I just attended a busy industry conference where everyone was go, go, go for 2 weeks. I told people I’d send them a brief summary of what I’m working on by the end of the conference. The problem is, another person recently informed me that the summary report is not displaying properly on his computer. I checked with other people and they said it was fine. I am so afraid that any one of the people at the conference to whom I promised the report will complain to me that the report is not displaying properly. I have waited almost a week since the end of the conference to send anyone anything. I have been trying to examine why I’m procrastinating. I think it’s simply that I just don’t want to lose credibility. However, my own perfectionism is paralyzing me and the more I wait the more annoyed people will get

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  • March 27, 2019 at 10:27 am

    I actually object a bit to this article, because it conflates authenticity – in the true sense of the word – ie being genuine & not false with other admirable and desirable qualities. One can be entirely authentic to one’s self, one’s values, even if those values are that nobody else matters except one’s own needs/desires. Being selfish, unkind etc isnt being inauthentic, it’s being selfish & unkind. The only ‘truly authentic’ trait of being ‘truly authentic’, is the first one.

    It is entirely possible to be incredibly insecure & without a strong sense of self, AND authentic. It’s hard, it feels terrifying and a huge risk, but it’s possible. I know, i’m one of those people! I work *really *hard on being authentic, and others being non authentic upsets me & confuses me. Being authentic is a decision to be honest & open, to avoid game playing & manipulation, it’s much more difficult without a strong sense of self, without personal security, but those things dont preclude it.

    Being authentic is just that – truthful, honest, congruent & transparent. It’s real, it’s risky & it’s glorious. And although people who are self assured, confident, strong sense of self etc – all the things mentioned in the other 11 traits, will find it much easier, that doesnt mean that someone who takes criticism personally is being inauthentic.

    I think possibly you were meaning that these were 12 traits of NATURALLY authentic people. Because those other traits usually go hand in hand & enable authenticity. But being able to handle criticism isnt ‘being authentic’. Getting upset because someone said your work was rubbish isnt inauthentic, pretending you are not upset is.

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