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How to Communicate Authentically

August 9, 2013

By: Omnia Group

The ability to communicate and authentically express yourself is one of the keys to success in business and life. Like it or not, we are a social society.

That means even self-proclaimed introverts, people who prefer to work with animals, computers or robots (or computerized robot animals), have to interact with people. Customers, colleagues, family, and friends are all part of life (as much as some may deny it to themselves).

Once someone has developed basic language skills and mastered “please” and “thank you,” we, as a society, pretty much lose interest in teaching communication.

“I can talk good,” we might claim, eyes trained on our I-devices. “LOL,” we might add.

But talking and communicating is not the same thing. Talking involves the vocalization of words at a high enough volume that another living being may hear it. Authentic communication, on the other hand, requires both listening and speaking. It is more about making a personal connection than just sharing information (or saying stuff).

Why authentic communication?

Making a real connection with people reduces conflicts, improves relationships, limits misunderstandings, and paves the way for good things like career growth and worthwhile life opportunities. It just makes everything better and easier.

Some people are naturally charismatic and empathetic. They seem to draw others to them and generate trust and loyalty. If you pay attention, you’ll find these individuals use some common techniques.

Here are some of the basics of authentic communication:

1. Be yourself: It’s impossible to make a genuine connection if you are trying to change your nature to please or impress your listener. Don’t try to guess what other people expect of you. Just be who you are. Your sincerity will be apparent. And at the very least, it will be easier to express your thoughts if you don’t have to try to remember a role you are playing.
2. Be honest: make sure YOU believe what you are saying, or your audience sure won’t. Note: Being honest is not the same as being blunt. This is not necessarily the time to air all of your negative thoughts and feelings.
3. Use simple, accessible words and language—no need to be a walking dictionary.
4. Pay attention to the nonverbal stuff: According to a UCLA study, communication can be as much as 93% nonverbal. That means what you say is not nearly as important as how you say it.
  • Make eye contact, but not super-creepy intense eye contact.
  • Limit fidgeting: It is distracting and makes you seem uncertain and uncommitted to the conversation.
  • Watch for your listener fidgeting: It may be time to pause and let them talk for a while.
  • Match your facial expression to your words. Take care not to contradict yourself through your body language. Saying, “I love clowns!” while you shudder and grimace will make you seem dishonest (and crazy).
5. Listen and hear:  Be wary of giving a monologue. Stop frequently to let the other person contribute, and let them know you have understood what they had to say. So many people are accustomed to not being heard that your willingness to listen can make you seem unusually generous.
6. Make a connection through personal stories/experiences:  Interweaving the information you share with personal anecdotes makes a lasting impression, and you appear more open and relatable.
7. Know your audience: Be at least a little aware of the opinions, beliefs, or circumstances of your listener, so you have an idea of how and how much information to share.
8. Use humor – if you are funny. Even during serious conversations, appropriate humor and sharing a laugh builds connections. Hint: Puns are not funny.  And clowns are terrifying. Don’t try to communicate authentically while dressed as a clown.


Omnia Group

For over 30 years, we’ve helped organizations across the world improve and optimize their workforce operations and company cultures. While we take a unique, scientific approach to hiring, development and retention, we also believe every business is a people business. Our passionate advisors always put people first.

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