The Importance of Authenticity: Staying True to Yourself While Building Rapport

Full Transcript

This video is an excerpt from my upcoming course on building rapport, going beyond small talk with advanced communication skills. If you like what you see in this video, check out the link to the full course below:

Check out the full Building Rapport: Communication Skills to Surpass Small Talk course here:

In this video, we’re going to talk about the importance of authenticity, staying true to yourself while building rapport. It’s a myth that you need to be fake in any way when it comes to building rapport with people. In fact, that simply doesn’t make sense. How on earth is being fake going to build a real connection with someone? At the very least when you’re not showing who you really are and you’re not demonstrating honesty when you speak, you’re delaying how long it’s going to take for them to get to know you.

Now, we’re raised with this idea that getting to know each other is actually a process of deception. We hide the truth about ourselves, we show them the nicest, easiest stuff to like first and that’s slowly, piece by piece, letting them know a little bit more, a little bit more. And of course, many people actually have a limit, they will only show people a certain amount of themselves and keep the rest hidden no matter how long the relationship goes.

But if you’re doing this course, it’s because you want real connections, you want the kind of connection, that kind of rapport with someone, that when you show up, you never have to think about what you’re gonna say, you never have to hold anything back, you never feel afraid or ashamed of what’s true in your mind. You can just say it all. That effortlessness, that weightless feeling. There may be a few of you who have never really experienced where you don’t have to pretend or hide anything.

The reason we have this myth about how you have to get to know each other using deception is because we’re led to believe that if someone reacts negatively to anything we share about ourselves that that’s a bad thing, and that the connection is hurt by that, and the relationship is doomed. That’s simply not true.

People with great connections do have negative moments, all the time. We don’t always agree, we don’t always feel comfortable with each other, we don’t always like what the other person’s doing. That isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. What is the deal breaker is pretending so that they never feel anything negative, in which case they don’t really have a connection or a relationship with you. They have a connection or relationship with the thing you’re pretending to be, which means you’re still alone.

And when I use that buzzword authenticity, it doesn’t mean you blurt out every single thought and feeling that comes into your mind. As we’ve talked about in other videos in this course, oversharing kills connections just as badly as under sharing does, right, there always needs to be a balanced investment. And this is how you manage authenticity without oversharing: you make sure that you’re never sharing much more than they are, that they always have to match you before you take it to a deeper level.

I think the simplest way to think of authenticity is that whoever you’re interacting with, whether they’re a complete stranger or your partner or someone in between, you treat them like a respected and trusted friend. You don’t act any differently with anyone.

One way to think of it as a kind of shamelessness. It’s speaking as if everyone is safe to share with, as if everyone is non judgmental, as if everyone will love you for the way you are. Of course, that’s not the reaction you’re always going to get. But authenticity is speaking as if that’s the case. And it’s actually the most effective way to figure out who really is safe and who isn’t.

See, when you’re being fake and hiding all the time, and other people are doing it too, you don’t know who your friends or enemies really are. Almost all of you will have had the experience of being betrayed by someone who you thought really loved you, and missing an opportunity with someone who you thought hated you and it turns out they liked you.

So when you’re really honest and authentic with people, you quickly figure out who’s who. And it saves you a lot of pain and heartache in the long run. But it will cause some confrontations and rejections in the short term.

So of course not everyone is going to treat the information you share with respect, with confidentiality. There are some people who will use your information against you, they will, or others who will judge you or mock you or reject you based on your sharing about yourself.

But if you carefully manage the reciprocation principle, if you are very careful to make sure you never overshare, that you only match them and lead it just a little bit further but never allow them to be the under sharer while you just pour out information, then there’s not too much harm they can do to you. They might take a little something that you’ve done and use it against you or insult you or whatever. But that’s it, it will just be one thing that you gave them, like a little taste.

It’s kind of like giving someone a bite of your meal, and if they don’t like it, you still get the rest of your meal. You don’t just give the whole plate over and go back or hope they like it. So we’re not talking about hiding anything. We’re just talking about reciprocation, like I will show you everything, but it’s gonna be one bite at a time while you show me everything one bite at a time, and every time I show you a bit more and that goes well, I’ll go even deeper. So I’m keen to get to my greatest depth, to show you my deepest, darkest secret, that secret inner world. I can’t wait to show you that. But we have to get there together, you have to show me yours too.

I think the best way to think of it is like levels. You’re always honest. But there’s a difference between a level one honesty and a level 10 Honesty. So level one honesty might just be somebody asked how your day is going, and you’re like, I’m a bit tired. Where level 10 Honesty is like my father never hugged me and I carry that trauma with me every day, it makes me resistant to people.

Now I’m not going to go from a one to a 10, that’s oversharing, I’m not going to go to a 10 with somebody who hasn’t even given me a two, that’s oversharing. What I’ll do is I’ll start with a one, how you respond will decide where I go next. Now if you respond really deep, I might jump ahead to an eight because you’re already there, you led the way, that was nice of you. But if you don’t, I’ll just go from a one to a two and a two to a three. And I’ll stop when you do.

So if I share three and then you push back and you reject me, you mock me, you won’t share, you won’t open up, then three is where we end. In fact, three is where our relationship ends for now. And I will move on to somebody else who wants to go to a four or five, instead of being deceptive.

Go silent. So either be honest or don’t say anything. And this again aligns with managing the reciprocation principle. So if I’ve shared two or three, and you haven’t shared back, I don’t speak anymore, because it’s still your turn. You’re still at a two. I’m waiting for you to catch up.

But let’s say I’m in a situation where the only thing I can think of to say that’s honest is too scary for me to say right now, or I don’t think I can manage the consequences, e.g. I think I might lose my job and I’m not brave enough to lose my job over this thing yet. What do you have? I don’t have that kind of shamelessness. Well, I’m ready to let the world burn with my honesty, which I hope you do get to one day.

But let’s say you’re not courageous enough yet – most people aren’t. At least don’t lie or pretend. Let’s say your boss makes a joke that you don’t think is funny, but you don’t want to tell them you’re not funny, because you’re just not ready for their level of honesty. Well, at least don’t laugh, don’t smile, don’t say anything. At least don’t give the impression you found it funny. Don’t lie. So if you can’t be honest, stay silent. And at the very least, all you’re doing is delaying the connection, you’re not ruining it with dishonesty.

You’ve got to understand that people not liking the real you is not a bad thing. I heard a friend yesterday call it divine redirection instead of rejection. There’s really no need to make people like you. Right? If someone rejects you, if someone shows dislike for who you really are in a consistent way, (they’re not just disagreeing with one point and they like you). They just don’t like you, you know, which is actually not as common as you think it is. Well, there’s 8 billion other people on the world almost, you don’t need this one. You don’t need any of these people.

Maybe you only have a small niche of people who will like you the way you are. Well, you best get on trying to find those people instead of wasting your time trying to convert somebody who isn’t in that niche. This is really about saving time and energy. And if you’re always honest all the time, you save the most amount of energy and time.

So if I’m on a date with someone, I’m very honest, right from the beginning, and I can see that it’s going badly, then that date only lasts 10 minutes. I’ve got the rest of the night available to go socialize. But if we pretend to get to know each other, we might end up getting married before I realize we’re a bad fit. And that kind of thing happens all the time.

There are so many of you out there with bad fit social connections like friends, partners, even family members you spend a lot of time with and you just shouldn’t be with them at all. That you were fake at the start and it took you a long time to realize that you’re a bad fit for each other. So start over again, be really upfront with people right from the beginning. And if they don’t match you, if it doesn’t feel exciting to talk to them because they’re not sharing as much as you were or it doesn’t feel like you really are bonding on shared misery, and so on, then move on quickly. Just going okay, this person is not matching me, who’s next? Rather than like, oh, they don’t like me? Well, they’re not a good fit for you. There’s no benefit in having them in your life. You won’t enjoy it either. You’re missing out on nothing.

I think the simplest way to do this is to stand up for what you believe in no matter what it feels like the risk is, okay. You might build up from safe environments, like with friends you don’t really care about, to more high stakes environments, like your career that you do care about. But always look for the opportunity to be disagreeable, to stand up for what you think is right when it seems like other people don’t believe that.

Now, sometimes they will change their mind. Sometimes there’ll be a blowout. Sometimes you’ll disagree peacefully. But what disagreement does is it very quickly separates real friends from fake friends, good fit partners from disasters, you’ll see quickly where we’re just not going to vibe.

Now this doesn’t mean that just because someone disagrees with you or has different values to that you can’t have a good connection, or it doesn’t mean it’s over. We need to see how well they handle their disagreement. Do they still respect you? Do they still try to understand your point of view? Do you agree on most other stuff? Because if that’s the case, and you can have a long term relationship that’s perfectly healthy with someone without ever agreeing on this point.

But if you don’t stand up for what you believe in, if you’re a nice guy or a people pleaser, you always bend over and kind of show no real allegiance to any particular belief system or ideas, then no one can ever really get to know you. So you can only have fake connections.

You have to get over the idea that breaking the rapport is a bad thing. Not only is it good, it’s necessary. A good relationship has ups and downs. And this is actually the kind of friction that builds the relationship. You might have been cruising along nicely, then you have a bit of a confrontation, you work together on the confrontation and come out of it, and you end up at a higher level of connection.

And this is my experience of most really good fit relationships and friendships. If you watch them over time, the graph kind of goes up like that. So they’re having these ups and downs, but the downs always lead to a higher up. I’m not saying they’re always in conflict, because that’s usually a pretty red flag. But if there’s occasionally little clashes, and the people respectfully and lovingly work through those clashes to try and maintain the relationship without compromising what they believe in, they usually end up on this higher plane of understanding this tolerance.

You can let people change your beliefs while you change these. I mean, there’s nothing more connecting than to change each other. To allow yourself to be influenced. The idea that you can’t be influenced by people is ridiculous, you’re always influenced by people. And your best connections will change you as a person. And you can allow that to happen. It’s a good thing. Let people make you into a better person, and make them into better people.

Never sacrifice your values, your strong ethics and principles, just to keep things nice and smooth. I don’t care how well this dinner party is going, if the conversation goes against what you believe in, it’s time to throw a bucket of ice water on that conversation, ruin it. If you have to make an awkward silence, in the long run, it’s better for you. Because out of that awkward silence will either come deep and meaningful connections, or you’ll come to realize this isn’t a group I should be having dinner with. And in the long run, both of those consequences are good. It’s better that you figure out that these aren’t your friends, or you throw the ice water on the conversation and it leads to a greater friendship. Both of those are great outcomes.

Playing nice so that nobody gets upset and keeping a group of friends that has a superficial connection or bad for connection, how is that worth doing? Why would you think that’s a good idea? It doesn’t even cure loneliness, it does nothing for you.

The fundamental, deep truth about rapport with other people is that it’s really about your relationship with yourself. And that’s just a big cliche, but practically speaking, what this means is you always prioritize your integrity, what you believe in, your truth. That is an act of love to yourself and an act of respect.

You imagine if you do it to somebody else. If you have a child, for example, and you always respect what they say and you always encourage them to speak the truth. Think how loved that child would feel by you. Well, do that to yourself. Prioritize being truthful over feeling comfortable, over having people like you, over being part of the group and fitting in. In the long run, that love you have for yourself will shine through and other people will find it so much easier to love you back.

Because we can’t love someone who doesn’t love themselves. We can’t build rapport with someone who’s disconnected from themselves, because they’ve put up a front. We’re always dealing with that impression that they’ve created, that middleman, that invisible person who doesn’t exist, the mask.

If you’re just like, here I am, this is me, faults and flaws and strengths and weaknesses and everything. You either like this or you don’t, it’s up to you. That’s actually a really likable person.

As I’ve said many times throughout this course, this is about quality, not quantity. So yeah, you might not have lots and lots of friends, and you might not have lots of people loving you, but you’ll have a few and you won’t have to do anything to make them love you. Because you’re perfect just the way you are. You don’t need to even improve. You can have bad habits. You can be annoying. You can be silly. You can be messy. You can have stupid ideas, and they love all of it. There’s just effortless deep connection. Of course you have to love them the same way.

Thank you for watching. If you want more professional advice on how to build deep connections for being authentic, get in touch I’ll walk you through the practicalities of it all, make it simple for you. Cheers.

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