Dare to be you

"Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." ~Oscar Wilde

On a recent flight from Atlanta to Richmond, I had the pleasure of coming into contact with the world’s perkiest flight attendant. By pleasure, I really mean aggravation. And by perkiest, I mean over-the-top sugary sweetness that left a severely bad taste in my and my husband’s mouths. When I noticed a few other flyers mocking her, I realized we weren’t the only ones put off by her actions.

I’m a huge fan of realllllly nice people. I live in a small town in the South, where you wave at everyone and strangers go out of their way to lend a hand.  I’m someone who loves to talk with clerks and waitresses and just about anyone else who feels like chatting.  Enthusiastic, happy, nice people don’t bother me in the least bit—when all that kindness is genuine.

"No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself." ~Virginia Woolf

The flight attendant, on the other hand, seemed anything but authentic. I get that it’s her job to put on a happy face and all that, but she spoke in this sing-songy, high-pitched voice, placing emphasis on every syllable to the point that she was difficult to understand. While she didn’t make any effort to make eye contact and really connect, she plastered this veneered, bleached-white toothy smile on her face that looked more painful than joyful.

All that said, I don’t think she got anywhere with all that fake enthusiasm. Some people made fun. Others rolled their eyes. Others, like my husband, tuned her out completely. She didn’t accomplish anything.

I know that when I communicate, I don’t want any of those reactions. Do you?

"Be you, bravely."

I truly believe that you will always get much further in capturing people’s attentions, building trust and gaining support if you reveal your true, authentic self. If you are outgoing, don’t stifle who you really are. However, if you aren’t bubbly by nature, don’t fake it.

While you want to present a positive image to your co-workers and customers, you don’t have to be a shiny, happy, plastic person 24/7. Letting people see that you are human, that you are flawed and that you have emotions makes you so much more real. You aren’t perfect, so don’t pretend to be.

“… be yourself—not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” –Henry David Thorough

It really comes down to commitment. Being committed to your job, your customers, your cause, your employees. When you deeply believe in what you are doing and you care passionately about your organization and the people around you, you don’t have a need to fake it. Your enthusiasm will shine through naturally. People will believe you—and in you.

What is your best tip for revealing your true, authentic self? 

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[Image Sources: Emily McDowell, Real Simple, Magpie Paperworks, Catherine Ahern]

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3 responses to “Dare to be you

  1. My tip – Listen. You will find few do it and when you devote your full attention to another, you will find everyone moves to a higher plane.

  2. Pingback: The Training Nation Weekly Round-Up | Training Nation

  3. Good post. I think what it is about these type of people is that they are really not interested in anyone else around them, just how they are appearing to those people. My tip is similar to David Kanigan’s above but is just “take an interest”. You don’t have to fake it either. Most people are interesting/worthy of engagement. Most people can also spot a fake a mile off.

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