Is authenticity at work even possible? I think it is–but I’m not talking about “blasting” people, cussing them out, calling them names and then saying, “Oh, I’m just speaking my truth…take it or leave it.”
Here’s one model for how to be “respectfully authentic at work”:
1) Check in with what your feeling inside in response to a situation, comment, behavior, etc.
2) Calmly say to whoever is involved: “In response to what you just said, I am feeling kind of …”
Don’t “act out”; don’t swear, hug, kiss, insult, throw chairs, etc. Don’t label people or use the nefarious “you” statement. Just state how you’re feeling in response to stimuli, as calmly and as clearly as possible.
More often then not, you’re feeling several things all at once, so express that. Ie. “In response to what you just said, I’m having some conflicted feelings. On the one hand, I’m feeling kind of nervous to bring things up with you, because you’ve been doing a lot of great work for me recently and I feel bad about complaining. On the other hand, when you made that sour expression and used a sarcastic tone, I felt pretty darn irritated and annoyed.”
And then you shut up and let people have their feelings. Most of the time, this approach leads to a very interesting conversation with the other person. The trick, though, is to stick with the model. “In response to XXX, I’m feeling…” Note: the other person doesn’t *have* to do anything about your feelings. You are responsible for your own feelings–you’re not expressing your feelings to compel people to change or apologize. You’re just committing yourself to authentic expression. It’s sort of like, “So here’s what’s going on for me. FYI. What’s going on for you? What’s your take?
Try it some time!