I’m going to talk briefly about the differences between being genuine and being inauthentic, and when we are most likely to lean towards one or the other. In my view being genuine is about being open and honest when appropriate, being unafraid of expressing honest feeling, being self-accepting and self-aware, and being able to be true to oneself without being fake in any way, concealing or expanding on the facts, and without feeling conspicuous whilst doing so. Quite a list right? Well everyone’s capable of being genuine, but no one is capable of being completely genuine all of the time. Besides, it almost certainly wouldn’t be appropriate.
Marks of inauthentic behaviour are: concealment of facts about oneself, being devious and plotting, and over-defensive, saying things that we do not mean and deliberately playing politics with peoples sensibilities. Inauthentic people usually are inauthentic to aid themselves in their careers or social lives, often at the expense of others or the truth, they may be insecure or sometimes it is a little more complicated than that.
The choice between being genuine and authentic should be obvious, but achieving a state where you can be considered a ‘genuine’ person isn’t that easy. Firstly, you must accept who you are and be comfortable in letting others know that person. This in itself can take years, or for others it can be very natural, but think of it like this; why spend the time developing a fake persona to appease the sensibilities of those around you, when you could spend the same time being honest about who you are, and work on yourself, rather than your image?
Secondly, you can’t really try to be genuine, it’s just something you have to ease in to. It’s easy to agree with the group, but if you disagree, the genuine action is to say so, not appease what you believe is wrong. You do however need to disagree in a useful and socially skilful way. Being authentic does not mean you need to be boorish.
Thirdly, to be genuine you have to be interested in connecting with other people, but not cripplingly worried about their perceptions of you.
Of course sometimes you have to be a little guarded – when negotiating you don’t want to give too much of yourself away, and when dangerously out of place you may need to tone down your views for the sake of harmony, but these are short term solutions for short terms problems. If you pretend to be someone you aren’t, people will eventually suss you out.