The Art of Effective Authentic Communication for the 21st Century

The research is clear: you are 3 times as likely to get the job or close the deal when you are authentic in your communication. Yet authenticity also has its downsides.

If you’re concerned about getting the balance right, keep reading!

Why authenticity?

Recent research shows that 71% of people believe that when trying to make a good impression – land a deal or get a job – their communication strategy should cater to the interests, preferences, and expectations of the person(s) they are trying to impress. 

But that same research is clear that people are 3 times more likely to get their desired outcome when they are genuine – or authentic – in their communication. 

Yet evidence is also clear that too much authenticity can backfire bigtime. Consider the woman who had just been promoted to manager and during her first meeting with her new team announced that although she ‘really did want this job, it was scary and so she will need everyone’s help.’ 

Some may think her honest and brave whilst others would write her off as weak and ineffective. Others might be willing to give her a chance but nonetheless, they are already prejudiced in their thinking. 

Years later, that same manager admitted that on that first day on the job she learned that ‘being authentic doesn’t mean that you can held up to the light and people can see right through you.” 

In other words, for effective communication you need to get the balance right. But how? Your first step is to understand what authenticity means for you.

‘Sometimes just being yourself is the wrong thing to do’.

Authenticity is a loosely defined concept spanning a broad and complex expanse of subjects and history. 

Political philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), is generally considered to be the founder of modern authenticity. He believed that authenticity demanded nothing less than complete honesty, however uncomfortable or isolating. Later thinkers have reached differing conclusions. For example, 19th century existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard, said that when it came to authenticity, one must set aside theories, cultural customs, and even well- intentioned advice. For him, consulting one’s own conscious was the only way forward. 

In the 21st  century business context, things again are different. Professor Herminia Ibarra, Author of The Authenticity Paradox (HBR – Jan/Feb 2015) suggests that doing what feels natural can backfire with seriously damaging consequences. 

So to get on with your career, must you choose between being a fake or a failure? Professor Ibarra says absolutely not!

Instead, you must remember that the ‘self’ to which you’re being authentic is not fixed but flexible. People change as they learn and grow. Being authentic requires more than just being comfortable. It’s impossible to learn and grow without moving from your comfort zone. 

Equally it’s impossible to develop an effective, yet authentic style of communication if you aren’t willing to practice and learn. And don’t forget that research suggests this is especially challenging for women, many of whom struggle when being authentic means discrepancy with social and cultural norms. 

Talk like TED

In his bestseller, Talk Like TED, Carmine Gallo stresses the importance of making an emotional connection with your intended audience. 

He says ‘great communicators reach your head and touch your heart’. Unfortunately, most forget the ‘heart part’ to their detriment. According to Gallo, effective authentic communication requires that you speak passionately to, and create a meaningful connection with, your audience. 

Astrologically, this comes down to your natal Moon. It is through the qualities and characteristics uniquely connected with the zodiac sign in which your Moon is found that you create a safe, secure, and naturally passionate connection with your audience. If possible, choose the kind of space in which to communicate most effectively. 

Zodiac SignStyle
AriesNeeds to be constantly ‘doing’ – preoccupied with finding a worthy challenge or other avenue to self-gratification – tendency to be pushy, impulsive – even reckless – when threatened, likely to be provocative and argumentative. Potential place of communicative delivery – a sports stadium, battlefield, or boxing match.
LeoNeeds to be noticed, admired, and appreciated – preoccupied with one-upsmanship (“I can do it better than you can”) – tendency to be generous and loyal – the ‘life of the party’ – when threatened, can quickly become the quintessential ‘drama queen’. Potential place of communicative delivery include a party, playground, or theatre.
SagittariusNeeds everything to be light and lively – preoccupied with travel and finding adventure – tendency to teach/preach and share ideas – gregarious – when threatened can become arrogant and haughty. Potential places for communicative delivery includea university, church, airport, or courthouse.
GeminiNeeds constant stimulation (chaotic and curious) – preoccupied with drawing conclusions and making connections – tendency to be a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ – scattered – when threatened, can become gossipy (even traitorous) and cynical. Potential places for communicative delivery include a classroom, newsroom, or bookstore.
LIbraNeeds to be pleasing and harmonious – preoccupied with attractive surroundings – tendency to redress imbalances – play ‘devil’s advocate’ – when threatened can be critical and judgemental – especially when there appears there is no way to be ‘liked’. Potential places for communicative delivery include an art gallery, interior design centre, or beauty salon.
AquariusNeeds to learn and discover – preoccupied with what makes people tick – tendency to spout own views and beliefs as ‘the truth’ – especially when it comes to politics – when threatened, likely to become disruptive and/or seek an abrupt change of scenery. Potential places for communicative delivery include a convention hall, conference room, political rally.
TaurusNeeds to feel physically safe and comfortable – preoccupied with retaining control – tendency toward possessiveness – ‘what’s yours is mine but not vice versa’ – when threatened, can become vengeful especially if feeling betrayed. Potential places for effective communication delivery include a restaurant, farm, or massage parlour.
VirgoNeeds to feel useful and productive – preoccupied with health and well-being – tendency to feel nervous or ill-at-ease when everything is not ‘just so’ – when threatened, can become supersensitive and highly critical. Potential places for communicative delivery include the workplace, health clinic, lab, employment agency.
CapricornNeeds structure and boundaries – preoccupied with clear-cut guidelines and rules – tendency to feel responsible and do his/her duty – when threatened, takes up the drawbridge and retreats behind the castle walls. Potential places for communicative delivery include the corporate boardroom, top of a mountain, or in a walled (well-tended) garden.
CancerNeeds to feel emotionally connected with everyone – like a chameleon, instinctively blends in to his environment – tendency to take up role of caretaker – “Here, have my homemade chicken soup.’ When threatened, clams up and/or gets seriously annoyed. Potential places for communicative delivery include home, restaurant, or museum.
ScorpioNeeds to keep a close watch on the situation – like a sharp-eyed eagle, always on guard – tendency not to reveal underlying motivations but anxious to fully comprehend those of others – when threatened, can provoke ‘crisis’ as smokescreen. Potential places for communicative delivery include a trauma centre, operating theatre, or brothel.
PiscesNeeds to be in a sympathetic, understanding environment – preoccupied with helping others – tendency to fantasize and day dream – when threatened, melts down and/or disappears. Potential places for communicative delivery include rest home, bar, or spiritual retreat.

Gallo identifies four key elements of good verbal delivery; (1 rate of speech, (2 volume, (3 pitch, and (4 pauses. To be successful, all need to be carefully managed. Yet how can you manage them until you are au fait with your default communication style? 

Astrologically, this is symbolised by your natal Mercury, which informs the way you think, learn, and process information. Mercury also informs the primary concerns upon which you’ll naturally focus during any communication as well as your choice of delivery and words.  

Zodiac StyleDefault Communication Style
Ariesquick off the mark – initiates and competes, leads, and arouses. The first one to try out new things. Generally, not interested in anyone’s feelings.
LeoSelf-confident and self- assured – warm, bright, encouraging – makes things happen, tends toward exaggeration and has difficulties focusing on other than his/her own views and ideas. Not necessarily in touch with own feelings.
SagittariusSparkles with optimism and adores spreading his/her ideas. Assumes the world is filled with meaning. Sometimes talks too much and often is emotionally evasive and defensive. Quickly grasps the bigger picture
GeminiMercurial –simultaneous thoughts and impressions all at once – curious and experimental, open to new experiences and ideas. Lively (chatty) communicator with short attention span.
LibraA preoccupation with relationship and balance. Incisive and rational. Objective and (impractically) fair. Difficulty with resolution – there’s always so much more that could (should) be considered. Loves debate. Shies away from difficult emotions.
Aquarius Tends to live in own head. Preoccupation with right and wrong, should and should not. Visionary, utopian, rational, inspirational, just, and idealistic. Tendency towards reform although easily wedded to own ideas and perceptions. Often, ‘truth’ (whatever than means) comes before social acceptability. Self-reflective and usually unemotional.
TaurusTends to be slow off the mark and reluctant to commit or comment. Very concrete. Inclined to notice and focus on importance of values such as safety, comfort, and security. Stubborn re: change.
VirgoUsually needs time to digest and (re) consider – very discriminating (potentially myopic) and practical. Quick to pick up on and point out both good and bad points especially about health and work issues.
CapricornTends to be ractical and organised, down to earth. Plodding but ambitious and persevering – rather like the tortoise in his race against the hare. Known more for hard work than optimism. Tendency to be cautious and wary. Dry wit and dark humour.
CancerUsually subjective and depending on mood, can easily pick up on – or completely miss – that which is going on around them. Persuasive. Instinctively knows what to say – focus on survival needs – jobs, security, food.
ScorpioSignature is strategic and probing – looks for motivation – believes there are always strings attached. Cautious and circumspect. Instinctively distrustful. In touch with the unconscious, this is Mercury in his Psychopomp hat.
PiscesOften perceptive, emotional, contradictory. Can have problems with boundaries. Creative, intuitive (if not telepathic), as well as secretive. Scattered thinking a real possibility yet observations are often of highest accuracy and clarity. Focused on the seriously bigger picture.

Now what?

Yet every subject, situation, and audience is also unique unto itself and so for effective, yet still authentic, communication, you will need to both understand and adjust your default style and for that, you’ll probably be needing some help. Do this with a clever mix of neurolinguistic programming, astrology, and Aristotle.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve been reading, then why not sign up for an astrological coaching session now?!

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