What is authenticity

Authenticity - when are we real?

What color does a chameleon take when it only sees itself in the mirror? What does it adapt to when there is no environment? The publicist Kevin Kelly reported how a chameleon-like anole lizard behaved in the mirror cabinet. It changed from brown to green - the hue it shows in startle reactions.

So pure stress in the face of yourself. What is this bizarre introduction about? It's about the issue of authenticity. Who are we and when are we "real"?

What does authenticity mean?

The term comes from the Greek: “authentikós” - “real”. To be authentic means to feel real and to be seen that way by others. Authentic action is not determined by external influences, but decided by the person himself. By authenticity, we also understand, for example, the terms genuineness, integrity and credibility. The opposite of authenticity is staging.

How do you come across as authentic?

Let's come back to the Chamälion experiment. This example is intended to show that it cannot be that easy to always be "real". We take on many different roles in our everyday life: in the office we are the reliable, among friends the funny, in the family the loving and so on. We have many different sides united in our identity, but does that also mean that we are not authentic as soon as we take on a role?

In order to appear authentic, we need a strong congruence between self-representation and action. This means that what is said fits the non-verbal. But we can also create this congruence if we take on a role. Being the reliable one is part of the individual personality. It doesn't say that we just possess this property, nor do we possess this play.

For this it is important that there is clarity of roles. If you switch back and forth within a role, it is extremely confusing for yourself and for those taking part in the conversation, and it seems "fake". In addition to your own role clarity, it should also be clearly marked from which role you are currently communicating.

Authenticity in communication

Authenticity is particularly important in direct communication with others. A central aspect is that an authentic posture means stress-free expression. Like the chameleon in the experiment mentioned above, it causes stress in us if we don't know exactly who is talking about our roles. Role clarity creates security, which prevents stress in communication in the first place.

Another important aspect is the honesty or sincerity in the conversation, because this promotes authenticity. Genuine being, in addition to empathic understanding and appreciation, is one of the basic attitudes of good, relationship-promoting communication, according to Carl Rogers (founder of conversation psychotherapy).

Honesty is not to be equated with excessive openness. The person opposite doesn't have to know all of us to see us as honest people. Here again the congruence of presentation and action is in the foreground. As far as openness is concerned, Ruth Cohn (founder of the theme-centered interaction) positively postulates: "I don't want to say everything that is real, but what I say should be real!"