Authenticity in Your Freelance Business: Building Relationships
We place heaps of importance on authenticity, building trust and being yourself (yet professional and impressive!) in business. Most of the information we find about it is either cheesy, vague or impracticable. Authenticity could be “being yourself”, doing what you promise, or not laughing when you don’t think the joke is funny (I love to tell corny jokes, though, so open your mind a little please!).
What does authenticity even mean?
It’s not authentic to ask people questions about themselves when you don’t care about the answer. It’s completely obvious when you do that, by the way. Anybody who has read Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People knows that you should show genuine interest in people to get them to like you. This isn’t about tricking people into liking you; it’s about building something real and valuable. So how do you make it genuine?
In a conference or other networking event, the moments of true connection are worlds more important than the pictures and tweets you have of the presentations and gala dinner. We live in a world of instant gratification. You don’t build trusting and long-lasting relationships through retweets, but by putting your phone away and being present.
There are always opportunities for authentic relationships.
We directly and indirectly spoke of and experienced this at the Elia Together conference last month. I’ve been mulling over its take-home lessons. The main themes were obviously to collaborate more and communicate better. But what was the moral of the story? I think it’s learning to accept your unique features and those of others and using this awareness to collaborate and communicate better.
I was especially drawn in by Patrícia Cardoso Ferreira’s discussion on the Enneagram: the dots and circles connecting personalities in the contexts of relationships. My background in psychology makes me particularly interested in personal development both professionally and personally. Know yourself and it will be easier to know others.
Personal development helps
Understanding personality can help move your thoughts from yourself (insecurity, wondering if people like you enough, etc.) to others. The better you get to know people and show your genuine self, the more trust you can build. Trust and confidence bring better relationships (both business and personal). I’m a fan of business relationships becoming personal – I like my colleagues and clients to become friends, if possible.
There was a translator at the Elia conference who said something along the lines that he would be happiest to work with a project manager whom he could (comfortably) get drunk with afterward. I mean, why not? Translators and clients are but people, after all. Being open and understanding that everyone has different personalities will open so many doors:
- Understanding everyone is different will help you judge people less and, in turn, help you feel less concerned about others judging you. Wow, now that that’s out of the way, let’s just have a drink (or a cookie) and get to know each other, shall we?
- You’ll have an easier time knowing who would be good to work with. It also offers you more people tools to know how to work with them.
- It reduces the noise that distorts communication.
- The more you understand everyone is different, the fewer assumptions you’ll make about them, thus improving communication.
Is this post any more concrete than other content on authenticity? Hard to say. I’ve long seen ‘just be yourself’ as a silly thing to say. How am I not myself? Well, sometimes we aren’t; or, better said, sometimes we are so concerned about how others see us that we don’t leave room for us to actually be ourselves – ultimately preventing anybody from understanding us or vice versa.
My point is that personal development and learning to judge people less is a pillar to building on communication, building trust, and learning to cooperate and collaborate with clients and colleagues alike. Now get off your computer and go make a human connection!
By: Maeva Cifuentes, MITI