Minimalist authenticity

Catching up with Sharon Richardson yesterday we got onto the topic of authenticity. It was one of those words used a lot in the early days of blogging. The goal was to “find your voice” and aspire to online authenticity. But what does that really mean?

Some would argue that true authenticity is only possible in “real” relationships by which they tend to mean face to face. Much is made of the importance of body language and the subtlety of understanding even what is not said as we build trusting relationships. And yet, perhaps bizarrely, we do manage to do this online. We do manage to intuit intent and pick up subtle cues.

Little things like timing matter. A too hasty response to a tweet conveys meaning as does one that takes just that moment too long. Saying too much or too little carry subtexts. Sharon shared the example of an organisational twitter account that was just that little bit too glib and “professional” in its responses. Forced or false familiarity is worse than none at all. She mentioned a two word tweet that came across as inauthentic. How can two written words be inauthentic? We all know they can though and it takes real skill and attention to avoid this.

Pick your words carefully. They matter. Even if there are only two of them!

5 thoughts on “Minimalist authenticity

  1. It’s one of the paradox’s of the "personal brand" movement (which I guess folk like Tom Peters kicked off years ago): the number one thing about your personal brand is that it should be authentic; yet so many brand brands are utter fabrications (think: Haagen Daz; SuperDry; or ones that have been acquired like Green & Blacks)… http://mmitii.mattballantine.com/2011/10/10/inauthentic-brands/

    Moreover, though, to get through our working lives we have to exist in a number of personae; we’re a boss or a team member or a customer or a supplier… the list goes on. We have to adopt these subtly (or not so subtly) personae, but our online identities then munge them together into a transparent whole (alongside our not-work personae to boot).

    I’ve always struggled with people at work who give nothing away about their "true" personality – you know the sort, who you know nothing about their life outside of work, or really what makes them tick. In our increasingly connected and transparent world, might that sort of work/life strategy might become increasingly difficult to maintain?

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    1. BTW, it’s not an intentional thing that I just published that under a brand not my name… just getting my head around having multiple twitter accounts ;o) Matt.

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    2. I think you are right – the clear demarkations are impossible to maintain. But I also hear from people who are not comfortable with everything just blurring together. Sometimes folks like donning the work clothes and becoming a different person when they leave the house. Likewise how much can companies become open businesses – warts and all. One day I’ll get around to a post about the pros and cons of radical transparency!

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