Many business owners struggle with questions about how to approach and conduct meetings with potential customers. What should they wear? What tools should they use?
When I hear these concerns, my first response is this: take a deep breath and relax. Get out of your head, and into your heart. Truth and authenticity cannot be rehearsed, and when you’re dealing with people, truth and authenticity will always win the day.
Think about it. If you dress, talk, and present yourself in a way that’s not authentically you, there’s a good chance you will come across as phony. Now don’t get me wrong, most of the time it’s not malicious on our part. Most people are not trying to deceive others or lie to them. Oftentimes, we just feel like we need to be someone else in different situations, present ourselves differently, or do things that someone else told us we should do to be successful. But this approach is unhealthy. It can be stressful, unsustainable, and will prohibit you from building meaningful and trusting relationships with others.
A step above being phony is being honest. Now although we’ve always been told that honesty is the best policy, we can all recall times when we were honest, we did tell the truth, but it only created a problem or made one worse, hurt someone’s feelings—it just made us look bad. Due to those negative experiences, we sometimes stay away from telling people the absolute truth, opting instead to bounce back and forth between truths and little white lies. This might be a little more sustainable, but it still limits our freedom to live life and conduct business to its fullest.
So what’s above honesty? It’s authenticity. Authenticity means always being absolutely honest. And along with it comes being vulnerable. It’s kind of scary to think about, isn’t it? To always be honest and vulnerable? We’ve all been taught, especially in sales, to puff out your chest, exude confidence, posture yourself as the end-all, be-all. And we can all remember a time we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable only to open ourselves to be hurt or manipulated by someone.
That said, let me leave you with this thought: authenticity is what gives us the freedom to be ourselves, to be comfortable with who we are, and it’s the most important ingredient in connecting with other people in meaningful ways. One of the most important things you can give to the people around you and who you do business with is the real you.