by , on 11 Feb 2013 03:53 pm

On the Importance of Being Authentic by Rachelle Hunt

Popularity: 21% [?]

“Authentic behavior with a client means you put into words what you are experiencing with the client as you work.” -Peter Block, Flawless Consulting*

As an internal Lean healthcare consultant, I don’t have the operational authority to get my job done. Instead I lead through influence, developing trusting relationships with my clients – and authenticity helps to build that trust. When I’m in a defined consultant/client relationship, I pay attention to the contract, look for resistance, give feedback. It’s not easy, but I make an effort.

Where I really get hung up is giving voice to my experience in those every day moments when I’m not in formalized consultant/client relationship. Consultant/stakeholder. Staff person/random person. Rachelle/mother-in-law! And not being confident about being my authentic self in these moments gives me a lot of grief.

Scene 1: Coworker enlisted to help me with a project arrives late, leaves early, rolls eyes and acts in a generally disrespectful manner. Makes me feel like the work – and my person – are both pretty unimportant. I say nothing.

Scene 2: As a front line staff member presents to a group I am in, two leaders start whispering and carrying on a side bar. They pull a third person into their discussion. Not only can’t I hear but it is really painful to watch the presenter try to carry on. I say nothing.

I let myself stew about both these interactions. I have thought about ways to avoid working in Scene 1 again. What I should have said in Scene 2? I am still feeling pretty dissatisfied by both interactions. Why? Because the other people are jerks? No.

It’s because I was not authentic.

It’s not just how I was treated, or the situation I experienced, that has left me feeling badly. It’s because of how I reacted – or didn’t react. I did not give voice to my inner experience and ended up feeling like a doormat because of it. A simple response might not have solved the behavior but would have left me feeling better about these situations.

“Authenticity is simply being honest with ourselves and being direct and honest with others…it is a high risk strategy.” -Peter Block, Flawless Consulting

So what’s the risk? Others might say you’re being insubordinate, or yell at you. Or worse, they might not care! When you put yourself out there, you need to have a certain comfort level with vulnerability. When you are your authentic self, the other person will know that you, too, are a human. You have emotions. This level of vulnerability can be scary.

So why go through it? To what end? Behaving authentically is an investment – in the relationship, and in yourself. It’s an investment that may not always pay off. Yet authenticity is a risk worth taking because it just might help you move toward a more trusting, collaborative relationship. And because…

“…each act that expresses trust in ourselves and belief in the validity of our own experience is always the right path to follow.” -Peter Block, Flawless Consulting



*A special thanks to the guru of flawless consulting, Peter Block.  Go read his book!


Popularity: 21% [?]

4 Responses to “On the Importance of Being Authentic by Rachelle Hunt”

  1. on 12 Feb 2013 at 7:19 am 1.Mark Welch said …

    Good stuff. These are common scenarios we face quite often as lean coaches.

    I’ll tell you what I’ve had most success with in the past.

    Scenario 1: I’d normally offer an observation. Something like, “Julie, so far this morning since we’ve met, I’ve noticed that you’ve showed up late and are rolling your eyes from time to time. What message are you intending to send me?” This way it puts the ball in their court to respond and explain themselves, but doesn’t put words in their mouths. We don’t know exactly what is going on with the person. It’s up to them to express what’s going on. Let the conversation go from there. Inevitably, it gets back to the lean coach communicating that the time is valuable to making progress.

    Scenario 2: I usually gently/quietly address those involved with the sidebar with, “I can’t comprehend 2 things going on at the same time, so when the time is right, if you’ve got something good for the team could you share it with us then? Thanks.” This way I’m owning my feelings yet allowing them to save face. I’ve never gotten nonverbals laced with resentment or embarrassment when I’ve done this.

    Other ideas/methods to share?

  2. on 12 Feb 2013 at 12:29 pm 2.MindEdge Monthly: Top Quality Blog Picks…February 2013 « Quality At Work said …

    [...] “On the Importance of Being Authentic” – Daily Kaizen [...]

  3. on 14 Feb 2013 at 2:17 pm 3.Rachelle said …

    Mark, what great suggestions. In both cases you are calling what you see in neutral language – and asking a question of the other party. Questions get people to open up, and even own behaviors, in a way that statements can’t quite manage. Nice techniques.

    My M.O. tends to be to go with humor, though I can easily slide into snark if I’m not careful!

  4. on 18 Feb 2013 at 7:53 am 4.Mark Welch said …

    Oh, jeez, yeah, Rachelle, good point! It would be sooooooooooo easy to get snarky. If I tried to work in some humor when I’m feeling the slightest bit peeved at some team members it would definitely come out as snarky sarcasm, so I have to reeeeaaaalllly bite my tongue and keep my P.R. hat tightly on – but mostly it’s a matter of reminding myself that in most instances, what they’re doing isn’t personal at all – just human nature.

    An entertaining follow up to this post would be to have one column of “What I Said” vs. “What I Really Meant to Say.” I’ll be you and the crew at Group Health would have fun with that one!

Trackback This Post | Subscribe to the comments through RSS Feed

Leave a Reply