On Being Authentic

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The presidential election hype is in full force, but let’s look back for a minute. I came across an article I’d clipped from the summer of ’07, describing Obama and one factor no doubt partially responsible for his victory:

“Unlike some candidates, Obama ‘comes across more like a common person and has an aura of authenticity.”

— Dori Molitar, the Chief Executive of WomanWise, as quoted in an article from the NY Times from July 22, 2007, (“Campaign Chic: Not too Cool, Never Ever Hot, by Guy Trebay, about presidential candidates and what their clothes say about them.

Speaking of authenticity, Trebay also quotes Bill Carrick, a Democratic political strategist. “[Authenticity is] the one thing you’ve got to worry about. If someone doesn’t come across as real and believable in their image, they’re not going to be believable in their content either.”

Most people have an automatic meter for authenticity. You can dress someone up, but unless there is consistency in all aspects of a person’s communication, he or she will not appear to be believable, trustworthy or genuine.

The three components of a communication, are considered to be physical behaviors and appearance, voice and words. And according to the famous study by Albert Mehrabian, the three factors matter in that order.

The content of what someone says, wonderful as it may be, will seem hollow and false if it is not in alignment with what people “get” from the speaker by seeing his or her body language, appearance, physical energy and style.

It’s not necessary for every speaker to be beautiful, dressed impeccably or even standing up straight. Speakers simply need to be authentic and passionate about what they say, and behave in an integrated fashion. An audience will trust and believe you when you are a physical manifestation of your words.

Until the next time…

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