Is Authenticity Always a Good Thing?

The advice to “be authentically you” has come into vogue lately. I hear speakers say it at conferences. I hear it at business lunches. Just last week I heard it from three out of five presenters at an event for small business owners. But recently I heard it in a completely different context than I ever have. Someone said something extremely, and in my opinion unnecessarily, harsh. She followed by unapologetically saying, “I’m just being authentic.” The use of that term that way completely interrupted my thought process. Authenticity is a good thing – but what just transpired was neither kind nor good. Does that make it inauthentic or make authenticity not always a good thing?

This conundrum has been kicking around in my head. I have known too many people who have proven themselves to be conniving, selfish and underhanded. But on the surface they are kind, considerate and even generous. Being authentic to their true self certainly wouldn’t garner them success. Better to be fake to get what they want. They have enough people fooled and it works for them.

That is an extreme example. Let’s look at something most of us do – networking. We attend networking events to make contacts, grow our business and at its core – to make money. However, we all know that shoving business cards at people and demanding they do business with us is not the way to win clients. It takes time and a strong business relationship. Where should the line between authenticity (putting the REAL truth on the table) and kindness/graciousness be drawn?

I don’t know what the right answer is for you but after thinking about it for some time this is what I have come up with for me:

  • Integrity is hugely important to me. I want all the people in my life (personal and business) for their “yes” to mean “yes”, their “no” to mean “no” and when they make a mistake or hurt me for their “I’m sorry” to mean “I recognize what I did hurt you and I will not do it again.”
  • If someone pretends to have integrity and they don’t – that isn’t authentic. I can’t blame them for being fake, it’s in their best interest. But I don’t have to interact with them personally or for business. In that case, I would rather they were authentic.
  • However, kindness and graciousness are also important to me. I do not believe that being authentic is an excuse to be hurtful or tactless. If someone has feedback to give and it comes from a place of love and/or respect, I am open to it being said. If you are trying to make yourself feel big by “authentically” making someone else feel small, I’m not okay with that.

All of that is a long way of saying, authenticity is great as long as it isn’t being used as an excuse to hurt or manipulate someone.

That’s my two cents. I’d love to hear what you think.

As always, I wish you the most from your potential!

Doc Robyn

PS - I believe the space between people, how we talk to one another and how we deal with disagreement is where the fine line between success and failure is drawn. If you want to make sure you are on the success side of that line, let's schedule time to talk and see if I'm the right person to help you.

Dr. Robyn Odegaard (aka “Doc Robyn”) is internationally known motivational speaker, executive coach and corporate trainer. As CEO of Champion Performance Development, she works with executives, professionals, athletes, and coaches to help them achieve excellence by sharing active leadership, powerful teamwork, conscious communication, Productive Conflict™ and professional disagreement skills. She is the founder of the Stop The Drama! Campaign and author of the books Stop The Drama! The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams and The Ultimate Guide to Handling Every Disagreement Every Time. To work with her one-on-one, have her present to your team, request a custom workshop or invite her to speak at your event, please call 302-307-3091 or email her at

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