24 Jan Being Yourself
Translation of the original article published January 24, 2014 on El Comercio (Perú)
In the context of your personal brand, openness is key. It’s key to building your reputation, key to generating trust, and especially key to establishing authentic and long-lasting relationships with the people we interact with every day at work or in our personal lives.
It’s important to remember that they are the people who decide whether they appreciate or value our company or our friendship, whether they want to do business with us, have us on their work teams, promote us or hire us, as the case may be. They are also the people who communicate our reputation in the labor market, in companies, or between friends and family. But the role we play in the working world sometimes absorbs us to the point that we forget that all of these roles – like the positions we hold or the jobs we do – are always temporary. They last as long as they last, but they do not determine who we are.
This means that we are not the job we do or the position we hold. These roles or positions are only what we do to earn a living. The organizational “surname” that we carry is temporary and assigned. Our permanent name, our conduct, our ethics, in a context of equal respect for all, as well as the results we generate, are what define our personal brand, our reputation, and our “position” among the people with whom we interact.
However, the temptation to “become” the role is high, especially when the position is executive or involves a certain level of power. We often take these roles so seriously that we stop being natural and authentic. We stop being ourselves, sometimes to the point of forgetting who we really are and becoming the oddball in the group, the one who doesn’t know how or want to be “normal” or, even worse, the arrogant one who believes he’s better than the others because of the position he holds.
Not knowing how to separate ourselves from the roles we play professionally makes others uncomfortable, generates mistrust, and keeps people from knowing you as you are, since, as the human relations reciprocity law states, you get back exactly what you invest in each interaction with the people around you.
Arrogance and attitudes of superiority or lack of openness also tend to be read as indicators of insecurity: we hide and protect ourselves behind the role. And we certainly alienate ourselves from the good faith and sympathy of others. Arrogance is known as the greatest enemy of employability. Haughtiness kills charisma and lack of openness prevents warmth, both qualities vital to establishing authentic, long-lasting trusting relationships, generating credibility, and earning and deserving people’s appreciation and respect!
Acting and communicating with authenticity generates that fundamental transparency: we are easier to read if there is coherence between what we say with words and what our tone and body language communicate. And that transparency generates trust and promotes the “chemistry” that combines with our talent, good attitude, ethics, energy, and passion to comprise the most important ingredients of our reputation and personal brand.
Being ourselves is our true power: the challenge is to be consistently authentic and loyal to who we really are, with no pretensions or affectations, whatever position we may hold.