People want to work with and for those who they can trust to be honest and transparent. Nowadays, it is no longer enough to say you are authentic — actions speak louder than words. Promoting authenticity to create a workplace that fosters innovation, creativity, and high performance is best for everyone.
What does authenticity mean?
Authenticity is being genuine or truthful in alignment with your highest self and with what you believe to be true in the most profound sense of the word. Authenticity is living your life according to your values, not someone else’s.
It is about being genuine, honest, and authentic with yourself first and foremost and extending that authenticity to your relationships with others.
Why is authenticity important?
First, when you are authentic at work, people know what to expect from you. There is no guessing or second-guessing — they can count on you to be honest and straightforward, which builds trust within the team.
Second, people respect you when you are not putting on a facade or pretending to be someone you are not — instead, you are being genuine to yourself.
Finally, when you are authentic at work, you are more likely to be happy and fulfilled in your career. That is because you are not trying to be someone you are not — you are doing work that aligns with your values and interests.
There are many ways to be authentic in the workplace. Here are 17 examples of authenticity:
1. Take responsibility for all your actions
A good example of authenticity is when you take responsibility for your words and actions — if you make a commitment to someone, ensure that you follow through on that commitment.
Other examples of authenticity include being honest and transparent — whether taking credit for your successes or owning up to your mistakes, you must hold yourself accountable.
Always remember that the buck stops with you regarding your good and bad actions. No one else can take responsibility for your decisions or your outcomes — only you can control that.
Taking responsibility for your mistakes and their consequences shows that you are capable of making mistakes as a human. It allows others to forgive you and learn from your experiences. And most importantly, it helps you move forward instead of dwelling on the past.
So if you make a mistake, own up to it and learn from it — that is the best way to grow. And when things go well, remember to give yourself the credit you deserve.
2. Don’t try to please everyone
It is impossible to please everyone. You will only end up frustrating yourself if you try. Do not try to please everyone — it is impossible, and you will only end up frustrating yourself.
The most successful people are those who learn to be authentic and genuine, despite what others may think or say. People can see through superficiality, so do not try to be someone you are not.
Let people know your thoughts, and be willing to compromise when necessary. But do not let yourself be taken advantage of; always stay true to your beliefs and values.
Standing up for what you believe in can be difficult, but it is essential to maintain your integrity in the face of adversity.
By being true to yourself, you will earn the respect of your colleagues and become a more effective team member.
And most importantly, do not be afraid to take risks and put your ideas forward — even if they are not perfect — because that is how you will learn and grow.
Read also: 15 Examples of Commitments
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
It is simple. If you do not ask questions, you will never learn anything. It would help if you learned something to avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly.
Admitting when you do not know something is equally important. It is a sign of intelligence and shows that you are humble and willing to learn.
No one knows everything — the sooner you realize that the better off you will be. So, feel free to ask questions or admit when you need help understanding something. It is the key to success.
4. Take ownership of your work and do your best
First, taking ownership of your work means being proactive and not waiting for someone else to tell you what to do. It means being organized, staying on top of deadlines, and taking the initiative.
Second, giving your best effort means putting in the extra time and energy when necessary, going the extra mile, and always doing your best work.
That does not imply working long hours every day or pushing yourself to exhaustion — it means maintaining high quality and focus throughout the project.
Both concepts are essential aspects of being an effective employee. Taking ownership of your work and giving it your best effort shows that you are professional, dependable, and someone who takes your job seriously.
It also makes it easier for your boss and colleagues to trust you, which can lead to opportunities for advancement.
Finally, giving your best effort every time you work demonstrates that you are committed to your job and willing to do more than what is expected.
All of these things are important in any workplace, especially when it comes to career growth.
5. Build relationships without compromising your values
We need to support each other because it is the only way to survive and thrive. The workplace is full of different people with different cultures, beliefs, and values, and if we do not learn to cooperate and work together, we can achieve anything.
That means you can keep your beliefs and values. It is crucial to stand up for what you believe in. But it does mean that you need to listen to others, build relationships of trust, and collaborate towards a common goal.
When everyone works together in this way, it creates a more authentic workplace where people feel supported and appreciated. And that is something we can all benefit from.
Let everyone know where you stand. You do not want people guessing where you stand or what you believe — so be open and honest with them from the start and listen to their point of view.
But be bold and speak up when you disagree with something or think someone is crossing a line. Standing up for your beliefs may not always be easy, but it’s essential to maintain your integrity.
6. Display integrity in everything you do
When we display integrity in everything we do, it gives us a sense of authenticity. And when people feel authentic, they are seen as more credible and trustworthy by others.
In addition, acting with integrity (even when no one is watching) builds self-confidence and strengthens our values.
Displaying integrity also builds character. It shows that you can stand up for what you believe in, even when it is not easy, and that you are committed to doing the right thing. Ultimately, acting with integrity leads to a more meaningful and satisfying life.
7. Show vulnerability even if it makes you feel uncomfortable
Vulnerability can be scary to share because it makes you feel exposed and open to judgment or attack. But when you share your vulnerabilities with others, you create a connection with them that is based on trust.
And that connection is what builds strong relationships both at work and outside of work.
So, why is vulnerability related to authenticity? Because to be authentic, you have to be genuine about your weaknesses as well as your strengths.
When we are vulnerable, we acknowledge our weaknesses and fears and are open to hurt or rejection. But vulnerability also allows us to build deeper relationships with others because it shows that we trust them enough to open up to them.
And that can be powerful in the workplace, where relationships are crucial to success. If you feel uncomfortable about showing vulnerability at first, try thinking of it as a way to connect with others on a deeper level.
8. Focus on the things that matter to you
Focus on the things that matter to you. But remember that what matters to you may not always matter to others. And that is okay.
Every person has a unique set of values and priorities, which is essential to living by them. If you are true to yourself, you will be happier and more satisfied with your life.
This does not mean that you should never compromise or put someone else’s needs first — that is not possible or desirable in most cases.
It does mean that you should behave authentically as often as possible and let go of the things that don’t matter to you.
It can be challenging to do this in the workplace, where we often feel we need to conform to certain expectations or risk being perceived as unprofessional.
But by taking the time to ask yourself what matters most and then focusing your energy on those things, you will find that life is much more meaningful and fulfilling.
9. Do what you say you are going to do
Do what you say you are going to do every time. Think about this for a moment. Why would someone want to work with or for someone who cannot be counted on to do what they say?
When it comes down to it, your word is your bond. People will not trust you if you cannot be counted on to do what you say.
And if people do not trust you, it will be difficult for you to build relationships in the workplace — ones that could help advance your career. And at work, being dependable is one of the most important traits you can have.
When people know they can count on you to follow through, they will believe what you say and work with you in the future.
Another reason is that it sets an example for others. If your team or colleagues see that you are always reliable, they emulate that behavior.
Finally, doing what you say you will do reinforces your credibility and builds your brand. People will respect you more if they know you are honest and consistent.
Read more: 13 Examples of Good Character
10. Put others before yourself without expecting anything in return
If you genuinely believe that putting others before yourself is the right thing to do, then go for it. However, if you do it to receive praise or recognition from others, you’re not authentic.
Being authentic in the workplace means being genuine and honest with yourself and others. It means behaving in a way that aligns with your values and beliefs.
Of course, there will be times when you may only be able to help someone else by sacrificing something important to you.
In these cases, weigh the positives and negatives carefully and decide what you feel is best for yourself and the other person.
But overall, it is vital to be authentic in your dealings with others and put their needs first whenever possible.
11. Treat everyone with respect
It would help if you treated everyone with the respect they deserve, regardless of their title or position.
Treating everyone with respect is a primary tenant of being an authentic individual in the workplace — it is one of the essential things we can do to create a positive work environment.
It shows that we value others and are willing to take the time to get to know them as individuals. Plus, it just feels suitable to be treated with respect.
Respecting others does not mean always agreeing with them or doing what they ask — it simply means treating them as human beings worthy of our consideration.
So whatever your role at work, remember that other people around you are fellow humans trying to do their best. And, importantly, it models the behavior you want to see in others.
Treating everyone with respect also demonstrates your self-respect. It shows that you hold yourself and others to high standards and are willing to treat everyone with dignity and consideration.
It is essential to creating a positive work environment where you value and appreciate people.
12. Say thank you when it matters most
Thank you is a powerful phrase. It communicates appreciation and respect. When it matters most, expressing gratitude can make all the difference. However, sometimes, there might be better moves than saying thank you.
For example, if someone has done something for you, thanking them can seem sincere and not trying to control them. In this case, expressing your appreciation is good by letting them know how their action has helped you.
However, sometimes, there might be better moves than saying thank you. For example, if you have asked someone to do something and they have delivered poor results, thanking them might only make matters worse.
In such a situation, it is better to be honest, and provide feedback that will help them improve their performance in the future. Saying thank you is always a good idea, as it expresses appreciation and builds goodwill.
13. Ensure everything you do is congruent
Congruency is key. Congruence means that your words and actions are aligned — you are not saying one thing and doing another.
If your behavior is consistent with your values, it builds trust, and people see you as genuine. It is the difference between someone who is faking it and someone who is being themselves.
Pretending means putting on a show for others, but being yourself means that your words and actions align.
When you are congruent, you do not have to worry about what others think of you because you know that who you are is good enough. Congruency starts with being honest with yourself.
Ask yourself what is important to you. Once you know that, live by those values daily and let them guide your decisions. Be authentic in everything you do, and never compromise your integrity.
14. Pay attention to the details
Attention to detail is essential in any workplace because it demonstrates that you are thorough and careful. But more than that, paying attention to the details shows that you care about your work and want a good job.
If you are always quick to correct others’ mistakes, it may show that you are nitpicky and that you pay attention to detail.
While this can be seen as a positive trait, it can also be viewed as being critical and overly perfectionistic.
Conversely, if you let small mistakes slide, it may indicate that you need to be more detail-oriented or care about the quality of your work.
Therefore, finding a balance between noticing details and being so critical that you alienate people is essential.
After all, no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes occasionally. So focus on the big picture, and let go of the little things that don’t matter in the long run.
Read also: 12 Characteristics of an Ideal Work Environment
15. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Take yourself seriously in the workplace. Taking yourself too seriously can harm your career. When you take yourself too seriously, it often comes across as arrogance or entitlement.
Also, being overly serious can appear stiff or unapproachable and make you seem less likable. When you are serious all the time, it can be hard to let have fun with your coworkers.
On the other hand, having fun is essential — it helps you bond with your colleagues and makes work more enjoyable.
If you can loosen up and show your human side, you will be much more relatable, and people will see you as someone easy to work with.
So, do not take yourself too seriously in the workplace — it will only hurt your career. Be authentic instead, and let your personality shine through. You will be much more successful that way.
16. Let go of negative thoughts
Holding on to negative thoughts and emotions at work will only damage your relationships with coworkers and hinder your productivity. It is best to express your feelings constructively and then move on.
For example, if you are frustrated with a project, try talking to your coworker about it instead of bottling up those feelings. They can offer some helpful insights, or at the very least, they will understand where you are coming from.
Negative thoughts and emotions can be a massive drain on our productivity and creativity. They can also be contagious and lead to conflict in the workplace.
When you are positive, you will be happier and more productive. You will also be better able to build meaningful relationships with your colleagues.
So, let go of negative thoughts as soon as possible and focus on the positive aspects of your work. You will be glad you did.
17. Always be yourself
You should always be yourself at work — after all, you want to enjoy going to work, don’t you? And if you are not yourself, then who are you?
That said, there are a few caveats. For example, if you are in a customer-facing role, it might be necessary to put on a more pleasing or accommodating persona than your “true” self.
But even in this situation, staying true to your core values and beliefs is still essential. Customers can tell when someone is faking it, and they generally do not appreciate it.
It would help if you were genuine and honest with your customers — which means being transparent about who you are, what you know, and what you can do for them.
If something goes against your principles or feels wrong, speak up. Customers will respect you for being honest and authentic, even if they disagree with your views.
Ultimately, they will appreciate that you are real — which is more than can be said for most people in customer-facing roles.
Trying to be someone you are not is exhausting, and ultimately impossible to maintain a false persona for long. Plus, it is disingenuous and will eventually catch up with you.
Authenticity is vital in the workplace for many reasons. It allows people to trust you, builds deeper relationships, increases job satisfaction, reduces stress, and more.
There are many ways to be authentic at work, such as being honest about your skillset, communicating openly and honestly with coworkers, staying true to yourself, pursuing roles that interest you, and taking time for yourself outside work.
Being authentic is a crucial ingredient for success in any career.