I met with an organization to talk about delivering a staff training on communicating with difficult constituents. At some point in the conversation the person organizing the event looked at my necklace and said, “We are a very liberal organization. Wearing a cross could make some of our employees uncomfortable.” My immediate, without thinking, response was, “I don’t always wear my cross.”
I’ve thought about that exchange a lot. Why didn’t I ask her what she meant? Or explain that my cross represents a part of who I am?
I’m a believer. I’m all in. I hope I demonstrate my Christian faith in my everyday living. And, while I do use Christian principles in all of my work, (building relationships, showing appreciation, and gratitude, and communicating effectively to name a few), I don’t “preach” when I teach. Those that know me well know my faith is my stronghold. But I have never been told that my faith is wrong or offensive to a general audience. That was an eye opener for me.
The experience prompted me to take a step back do some review work on owning who I am and, when I choose to, displaying it without fear of rejection, or criticism, or even losing a job. In other words, to practice what I teach!
Discovering your authentic self can be a lot like peeling back the layers of an onion. You start with examining your outer self and how others may see you through your appearance, your body language, and your communication style.
Understanding your outer self is the first step to going deeper to really understand your inner self – who you are, what your core values are, what motivates you, and what your place in the world is. One of the resources I use in my teaching is the workbook “Understanding Your True North” by Bill George. The book takes you through a process of self-reflection to discover your authentic self. When we are our in sync with our authentic self, we can learn to really communicate authentically.
Whew. And it all started with a necklace! Here’s what I know about me: authentic communication, building relationships, gratitude. That’s what I teach. That’s what I do.
I eventually did get hired to do the training and I wore my necklace pictured here. It represents the cross I bear and the connection I have to the beach. Both me and part of who I am.
______Betty, Ruben and Penny
Betty Lochner is a communication specialist, author, and professional speaker who teaches individuals and organizations how to make small changes that make huge differences in their relationships at work and home – improving morale, confidence and productivity. She is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home and 52 Communication Tips. Both are also available on Amazon.com.