Kenan Doyle Branam
Media Consultant / Coach / Presenter / Producer
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Being Authentic In Business Relationships

“Authenticity consists in having a true and lucid consciousness of the situation, in assuming the responsibilities and risks that it involves, in accepting it in pride or humiliation, sometimes in horror and hate. There is no doubt that authenticity demands much courage. Thus, it is not surprising that one finds it so rarely.”- Jean-Paul Sartre.

The information age, primarily the Web, has facilitated, if not inspired, an introspection of our social behavior and basic communications principles. The concepts of Community are being introduced in business marketing, corporate culture, social and political groups, all now referred to as “social networks.”

One of the key concepts is "partnering" between employees, between company bosses and employees, and even between companies who once were competitors.

A Partnership relationship is defined by personal values such as interdependence, collaboration, win/win attitude, honesty, disclosure, vulnerability, and compassion--in a single word, Authenticity.

Past Paradigm of Relationships

Let's look at how our society has viewed relationships in the past and see how that has evolved during the current Information Age.

THE GOLDEN RULE In our recent history, it seems to me that we've been living by a perversion of The Golden Rule, “Do unto others before they do unto you. Or, in advertising lingo, “Do the consumers before the competitors do them.”
The Golden Psychological Secret is “We do to others what we do to ourselves.”

Authenticity can only come from our deepest values and how we feel about ourselves and, consequently, about others. The psychological truth is "we do to others what we do to ourselves". No matter the nature of the medium, productive communication depends on the self concept of both partners of the interchange.

So, today, let's have a conversation about Authenticity in this context: What is your personal concept of Authenticity? Are your professional relationships authentic? How can you be more authentic?

"In the real world, to be moral means we follow a set of principles; on the Web, morality looks like prissiness and authenticity, empathy, and enthusiasm instead guide our interactions."
Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web by David Weinberger. Read Online for Free at

"But how can a business be authentic? Authenticity describes whether someone truly owns up to what she or he actually is. Since corporations and businesses aren’t individuals, ultimately their authenticity is rooted in the employees."
The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual Author(s): Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, David Weinberger. Read Online for Free

Authenticity - The Conversation

Finally, let's talk about the person to person conversation. Whether the relationship is personal or business, whether face-to-face, cold calling, print or Website, here are some suggestions of how to develop the skill to be with another person with integrity and therefore authenticity:

The Take-Away

(This list originally was my check list for one-to-one or group in a therapeutic process.)

  • Personal Inventory
  • Make contact interactively
  • Share & Disclose
  • Ask Permission
  • Give up agendas or share it
  • Be supportive
  • Close the deal
  • Evaluate the deal

Personal Inventory

Be aware of your physical state, emotional state, and random thoughts (internal dialogue). Let go of personal preoccupation or express it openly. When you know where you are, only then do you have a chance to separate from your "stuff," your projections, from your awareness of your customer and "listen" clearly.“

Stay centered. That means being open to watching yourself as concretely as possible through mind/body integrity. This is essential to being truly authentic. If you don't know who you are, how can your be authentic? Your state of being is the most valuable asset you have to share in relationships.

Make Contact

Make empathic contact through body language, tone of voice, sharing, listening, and responding. At the first opportunity, make contact with the group through body language and tone of voice. Share where you are Here &Now. Then request individual response. Wait for it! Listen. Stay awake and aware by watching, empathetically, body posture, tone of voice, language of responsibility, anything the media channel provides. Show your response.

Sharing / Disclosure

  • Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why
  • Say who you are and what your agenda and assumptions are.
  • No trespassing, physically, intellectually, or emotionally. Ask for permission, an agreement, a contract for every stage of the process: offering services or products or advice. Maintain permission clarity. Any interruption of the person's awareness continuum is an intrusion. Thus, trust is built. No one listens in distrust; no one shares their desires, nor buys your product or message.

Give Up Personal Agenda - or share it.

Have no investment in showing cleverness, special knowledge, or expertise, ABOUT ANOTHER PERSON'S LIFE. Confrontation, intrusion, clever tricks, hidden agenda, surprises, or slight of hand are manipulative and abusive to another human being because that perspective holds another person as a lesser being and an object to be controlled. These actions are dominating, predatory use of power. Give up prejudicial assumptions, guessing, predictions, and even expectation unless you disclose them openly.

Be Supportive

Give honest feedback, be open to questions, let them answer their questions, let them sell themselves. Honest feedback is supportive if it is an expression of your awareness spoken in first person, present tense. Tell them how you understand what they said. Use only their exact words when referring to their expression of their needs/desires. Let each ask their questions and also answer them for themselves.

Let them sell themselves! You have what you have and they want what they want. Then, what do you do? Ideally, nothing! If you could truly do nothing, you would be a Master and miracles would happen.

Close The Deal

  • At the end of a conversation, finish any "business" that feels incomplete. Do you have a clear and specific contract? What value has each partner gained? Is it a Win/Win deal?
  • Audit The Deal

    Then leave the "table." Evaluate how you are now different from the beginning. What have you learned and earned? If you don't know where you are, you won't know where you've been. If you now feel unfinished business, if both of you lost, then determine if and how you might renegotiate "the deal." If you decide not to do anything, then release it. The Past is but a memory and that you can change or release.


    • Offer suggestions rather than manipulate
    • Collaborate rather than dominate
    • Support for loyalty not dependence

    Whether your job is managing personnel or marketing to customers, your job is to have a Conversation with a person, suggesting rather than manipulating, partnering rather than dominating, gaining deserved loyalty rather than developing a dependent/addictive relationship.

    Whether the relationship context is producer/consumer, employer/employee, or male/female, new ethics of social interaction are being defined and refined. The game is changing! The new game will be more productive and will last longer because everybody wins! Whether in Monopoly or the real world of economic intercourse, the Game is over when either side loses!

    "Information IS a Relationship. Knowledge thus exists in relationship rather than in an "objective" world or in "subjective" experience. In information theory, "information" is defined in terms of a "relationship" between an input and a receiving devise. A book contains no information for someone who can't read. " - The Holographic Model - John R. Battista

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