How Much Authenticity Can You Really Show In the Job?

How to Create an Attitude of Authenticity at Work

Do you remember the board room scene in Jim Carey’s movie, Liar Liar?  Can you imagine having a “no holds barred” truth approach on the job?  Movies are not real and the reality is that your boss and entire team would have it out for you! Authenticity.  It sounds like a nice concept.

What we need to develop is an attitude of…

“Meeting people where they’re at”

And making decisions based on…

“What needs to happen for the sake of the relationship?”

From a young age, I could pick up on signals/body language, and read the emotional field of any situation.  I could sniff out conflict and instantaneously knew when something was going awry in any relationship!  As a child and younger adult, I truly stood in the attitude of authenticity.  I had an insatiable desire to understand and to be understood.  The problem was that the world did not want me to be authentic.  When I would try to deal with the problem, I was usually dismissed.  I was not in a position of authority and my persistence was not valued.  Eventually, my attitude cost me my job.

Businesses do not know how to handle conflict.  Yet going to HR to file a complaint, ought to be used as a last resort.  Rank and title, unfortunately, still dictate whether your voice is heard or not.  The term “relationships” is getting used at nausea and the human condition is to avoid conflict at all costs!

How to Create an Attitude of Authenticity

Without constantly challenging the relationship and keep your eye on doing what is necessary for the “Sake of your Business Relationships”?

Here are a few questions you have to ask yourself:

  • What is the business goal and do I truly want to collaborate?
  • What do I value about the other person(s)?
  • What do I have in common with the other person(s)?
  • What are the differences between us?
  • Do I have the ability to accept the differences or is there something that needs to be said for the sake of the business relationship to create more understanding and value for each other?

Differences are what makes the world go round and is a necessary ingredient for business growth!  But on the job, “meeting them where they’re at” is needed if you know that addressing the conflict will not serve the relationship.  This is known as ACCEPTANCE.  You’re going to have to give up a certain amount of authenticity!  Being in any relationship doesn’t always mean that you will be understood.  As is stated in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, “Seek to understand than to be understood.”  Whether you are religious or not, theoretically it makes a lot of sense for internal peace…and a healthy working environment!

In business, I consciously use varying levels of non-authenticity.  Non-authenticity is different than avoidance.  When I experience conflict with another person and receive repeated signals/body language to back down, I quickly, “meet them where they are at”.  I choose acceptance for what I can’t change and allow rank and privilege to prevail.  The alternative is to continue to challenge the relationship and fight to be right!   Don’t let your desire to control drive your behavior!

Respect is something everyone has to earn, it’s not a given.  Managing your relationships and getting the job done is the way to go!  Instead of fighting to be right, stay focused and, “Fight for the Sake of The Business Relationship”. 

Are you authentic in the workplace?

How authentic are you in your relationships at work? Be bold! Share your stories. 

Posted in

Kathleen Mangiafico

Kathleen Mangiafico, ORSCC is a Relationship Specialist. She works with individuals and organizations on how to navigate through cultural and generational conflict. With a mix of corporate/non-profit experience and a 19 yr. culturally rich marriage (with 3 vivacious boys!), she has the expertise to shift your perspective from, "Who's doing what to whom?" to "What's trying to happen for the sake of YOUR business relationship?" Connect with Kathleen.

Reader Interactions


  1. Rob says

    People want authenticity in the work place, until that point comes where that authenticity is actually needed (usually because it exposes weaknesses or worse, fraud). Then you must be quiet or face the consequences. Sad, but true.

    • Kathleen says

      Yup. The question we all have to ask ourselves is, ” Do we choose acceptance for what we believe we cannot change?” ….or Do we respectfully, “Dare to Disagree” and challenge the status quo??? It’s an art form that doesn’t necessarily guarantee positive outcomes…but more cf a choice of behavior based on the idea of taking healthy risks….I think 😉


Pin It on Pinterest