10 Top Tips for Authentic Communication

Declan Mulkeen

22 Jun 2016

Authentic communication is in demand. Whether it be from your government, employer or manager we expect to be engaged in a two-way conversation where our voice is heard and our opinion is respected. We have put together ten top tips to help you to develop your authentic communication skills.

Authentic Communication Post Financial Crisis and Scandals

Authentic communication plays an important role when organisations communicate important change initiatives or, at an individual level, giving feedback or resolving conflict

The backlash against leaders involved in recent financial scandals and the ensuing lack of trust has meant that employees and customers alike now expect much greater levels of humanity and honesty from their leaders and companies if they are to remain engaged and committed.

What do we mean by authentic communication?

Authentic communication is not simply about saying what we think at all costs

Authentic communication plays a large part in this whether at an organisational level, for example, communicating important change initiatives or at an individual level, for example, giving feedback or resolving conflict.

However, authentic communication is not simply about saying what we think at all costs as communicating effectively is always a two-way process and one of its most important elements is to be able to understand and identify with the receiver.

We never listen when we are eager to speak, François de La Rochefoucauld

There are a number of different frameworks which identify the key elements of authentic communication. Here are our top ten tips for authentic communication:

1. Take responsibility

Take responsibility for your communication. This means not only for what you say but also ensuring it has been fully understood. You need to have ownership of the message and be responsible for any fall-out or negative response.

2. Be clear

Be clear in your use of language so that you are not misinterpreted. Avoid ambiguous language and technical or specialist jargon that may not be understood.

3. Listen

Listen more than you speak and make sure that when you are listening you are fully attentive and your focus is on the speaker.

4. Tell the truth

Also be wary of not making promises that you will not be able to deliver on

Make sure your facts are accurate and don’t make false promises or leave people to make assumptions that are misplaced. Be wary of not making promises that you will not be able to deliver.

5. Don’t over generalise

Don’t over generalise or make sweeping statements such as, ‘Nobody thinks it’s a good idea’ or ‘This always happens’.

6. Work with the facts

Avoid second guessing and making assumptions about what others are feeling, thinking or meaning

Be aware of the difference between your subjective opinions and the objective facts. Avoid second guessing and making assumptions about what others are feeling, thinking or meaning. If in doubt, ask for clarification.

7. Build a connection

Build a connection with the people you are communicating with. Show them that you care and are interested in them.

8. Be consistent

Your words should match your actions and you should always endeavour to do what you say

Be consistent – both in what you say and also in how you follow up. Your words should match your actions and you should always endeavour to do what you say you will do within the time frame you have promised.

9. Create mutual understanding

Create mutual understanding by being prepared to share a little bit about yourself and by being curious about others. Empathise with other perspectives and always try to imagine yourself in the others’ shoes.

10. Build your self-awareness

Authentic communication brings benefits not only to leaders but to employees throughout the organisation

Keep learning about yourself. Be aware of your own judgements and prejudices and the obstacles that prevent you from communicating authentically. Monitor your own negative responses and learn to manage your reactions to certain triggers.

Authentic communication brings benefits not only to leaders but to employees throughout the organisation. And in addition to creating better relationships, building trust, managing conflict more effectively and improving team spirit, authenticity helps to create happier, more self-confident and open individuals.