Did you know that authenticity is, in fact, one of six emotional intelligence competencies and skills? Authenticity is about openly and effectively expressing oneself, honouring commitments and encouraging this behaviour in others. It involves appropriately expressing specific feelings at work, such as happiness and frustration, providing feedback to colleagues about the way you feel, and expressing emotions at the right time, to the right degree, and to the right people. People high in this skill are often described as genuine whereas people low in this skill are often described as untrustworthy.

Developing authenticity is important as it not only helps you become a person of substance, but helps the people you work with feel more entrusted to you as a human being.


It can be developed by:

1. Taking the time to write down the way you are thinking and feeling about events at work. Doing so can help you more accurately express yourself.

2. Thinking about the time, place and situation you are in. Blunt expression without any consideration of these factors can result in defensive, attacking or withdrawal behaviour in others.

3. Asking others how they feel about issues and challenges at work.

4. Being open and vulnerable about the way you feel. Doing so will help you connect with others and encourage them to be open and vulnerable with you. This will also build trust and mutual understanding. Being guarded about the way you feel very often leads to mistrust and misunderstandings.

Let’s go a little deeper and explore more:

A. Describing your own feelings in a way that is sensitive to the feelings of others.

Think about the outcome you want from expressing how you feel about others. Ask yourself how you can best express how you feel to maximise your chance of achieving the outcome you want.

Before expressing your feelings, reflect on the way the person you are expressing yourself too might be feeling. Use this information to adjust your energy, tone, or the strength of what you express to achieve the best outcome.

B. Expressing your feelings in the right place and time.

Consider the outcome you would like from expressing how you feel. Think about the time, place and situation that is most likely going to help you achieve this outcome. Blunt expression without any consideration of these factors can result in defensive, attacking or withdrawal behaviour in others.

C. When necessary, facilitating challenging conversations effectively.

The first step in facilitating challenging conversations is to plan. Define the outcome you want and plan how to achieve it. Brainstorm how to position the importance and purpose of the discussion, the feelings you want to express, the questions you are doing to ask and the statements you are going to make. List any actions you would like to take or see others do. o

A good flow to a challenging conversation is:

1. Position the purpose and importance of the discussion.

2. Express how you feel.

3. Ask for the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

4. Brainstorm actions that could be taken highlighting win-wins.

5. Summarise the actions to be taken and the timeframes in which to take them.

D. Honouring commitments and keeping promises.

Keep note of commitments and promises you make (such as a list in a diary) and to whom you give them. Regularly reflect on your list to help ensure consistency in this area.

Click here if you would you like to learn more about authenticity and the six emotional intelligence competencies and skills.


Marcus van Wyk

Founder, Power Assessments International