Finding Your Authentic Voice
Do you struggle to show up authentically at work? Perhaps you feel like you need to shrink your personality. Or maybe you have taken on a “serious” or “business” persona. The truth is, being your authentic self and using your authentic voice will help you find career success.
Our CEO and Founder, Jessica Chen, recently hosted a Soulcast Media | LIVE event on LinkedIn, where she interviewed Content Manager for LinkedIn Learning, Almeera Jiwa Pratt. They shared tips and personal stories about finding your authentic voice.
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According to Twitter Business, 90% of millennials say authenticity is essential when deciding which brands they like to support. People crave authenticity from brands, and the people they interact with. So how do you go about finding your authentic voice?
Consider the following:
- Trust + Honesty – During the Soulcast Media | LIVE, Jessica asked Almeera what it means to find your authentic voice. Almeera said trust and honesty. She said you must be truthful and honest with yourself to be authentic. For example, one way to be truthful with yourself is to analyze the stories you are telling about yourself. Are they true? Do the stories align with who you are. If not, you will want to remove these mental barriers to be a more authentic version of yourself.
- Mental Barriers – Mental barriers are one of the most significant blocks people face when finding their authentic voice. For example, if you are a new hire, you may tell yourself you don’t have anything to add during a meeting. However, this mental barrier will prevent you from speaking up and adding what you know, which is extremely valuable. Instead, you need to remove this mental barrier and reframe it. You can say, “I am a new hire; however, I have a lot of knowledge about this topic. What I say is valuable to others who have been working here longer.” When you reframe a mental barrier, you can prevent it from keeping you from your authentic self.
- Actions – Your thoughts and words must equal and meet your actions. For example, if you say you will finish the reports by Friday at 5 pm, you need to make sure you do what you said. Otherwise, you will not be seen as authentic because your words don’t match your actions.
Authenticity is being self-aware of how you are at your worst, how you are at your best, and deciding with intention how you will show up in your day-to-day life.
2. Stop Pretending
During the Soulcast Media | LIVE, Almeera said there were times during her career when she felt the need always to be serious. This made her act a certain way at all times. Unfortunately, she was pretending to be someone she wasn’t, even though her intentions were in the right place, and people couldn’t connect with her. Every situation requires you to be self-aware; however, this doesn’t mean you should pretend to be someone you aren’t. Almeera said the key to ensuring you aren’t pretending is asking yourself honest questions.
Consider the following:
- What You Should Do – As you move through each situation, ask yourself what you should do. For example, let’s say you’ve just received an email that made you very upset. Ask yourself, “What should I do?” Depending on your personality, your should will differ. You may feel like you should do nothing. Or perhaps you feel like you should respond to defend yourself. Think about what your mind is telling you to do.
- What You Want To Do – What you want to do is your first impulse. Using the same example as before, getting an upsetting email, you may want to scream and yell. You may also want to write a scathing response. Generally, what you want to do is how you would react if there were zero consequences to your actions.
- What Is The Best – Once you’ve considered what you should do vs. what you want to do, you can decide what is best. For example, you’ve received an upsetting email. You should be the bigger person and not respond. However, you want to write a scathing response. What would be the best option, without compromising your authentic voice? Maybe you need to craft a response. However, you need to maintain your executive presence because you are in a work environment. You can still be true to yourself and respond, without pretending everything is fine.
Authenticity is not just giving in to your impulses. Instead, you should find the balance between what you want and should do and pick the best fit for every situation.
One of the best ways to find your authentic voice is to listen to yourself and others. During the Soulcast Media | LIVE, Jessica said you often put pressure on yourself to perform in a certain way. However, when you listen to yourself, and others, you can get out of your head and truly connect with others.
Consider the following:
- Body Breath Awareness – Listening to your body cues can help you be more authentic. For example, if you feel yourself start to tense up, you know you aren’t being your authentic self. You are entering into fight or flight territory. To combat this, you need to practice body breath awareness. Try to take deep breaths, holding for four seconds and then releasing. Find the areas of your body with tension and release the tension. In this way, you will be able to get out of the fight or flight pattern and be more authentic in your interactions.
- Believe Your Value – During the Soulcast Media | LIVE, Jessica shared a story about her experience as a young journalist. She said she would feel intimidated to speak up around the more experienced anchors. She said, you need to listen to yourself and remember your value. Because your input is valuable whether you are just starting, or in the middle of your career. When you believe you have value, your authenticity will shine through.
- Give Space – As a leader, you need to show up authentically and give space for your team to do the same. For example, one way to do this is to be intentional when interacting with your team. Make sure you ask them about their work, day, and life. Give them space to be who they are. When your team feels supported to be themselves, they will be able to work at their highest level.
Listening will help you find your authentic self. The more you can release pressure to perform, the more authentic you will be.
Finding your authentic voice will help you connect with others and the world around you. In the end, you don’t have time to act any way other than yourself.
If you want to see the full LIVE version of Jessica and Almeera’s conversation, check out Jessica’s Youtube Channel.
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