Authenticity & Connection in Professional Relationships Keynote

What values drive you in your work? Vision? Competition? Growth? Achievement?  Teamwork? Purpose?
What values drive you in your life outside of work? Integrity? Courage? Family? Faith? Balance? Fun?

—These are questions you will answer for yourself in Dr. Nunn’s interactive keynote—

Why is it so often challenging to feel like we can be our authentic selves at work? —This is a question Dr. Nunn will answer, helping you leverage those values you hold to create moments of connection with colleagues and clients that are genuine and meaningful.

While our values feel deeply personal to us, we typically learn to value those things from the various communities we are a part of. We bring all those communities with us to our workplace. We bring a bit of our family, a bit of our faith, a bit of our friendships, a bit of our school cultures, a bit of our hometown, all of it. So when we encounter a client or a coworker or an entire workplace culture whose values don’t resonate with ours, we feel, well, a little out of place. We feel unsure about what it is okay to say, what we can reveal about ourselves to others. The higher the stakes of the relationship (a supervisor, an important client), the more hesitant we are to embody our authentic selves. It can feel easier and safer to try and behave and speak in ways that simply reflect back what we think that person hopes and expects us to be like. To let them imagine that we are one of them. We want to land the deal, land the promotion. And after all, this isn’t our real community, it’s just our workplace.

Or so we tell ourselves.

The answer is community-bridging instead of community-barricading. Dr. Nunn explains both why this works and how to do it.

The Why
We know from sociology that a community is much more than a group of people. A community has its own character, its own set of rules, its own set of values. A community is a we with a shared moral compass. We believe in this and we  don’t believe in that. We (our family, our school, our neighborhood, our church, our friendship circle, our team, etc.) values A, B and C and we view X, Y, and Z as the kinds of things to avoid in life.

A healthy community’s shared moral compass guides our own behavior and also what we expect from others in the group. We hold the community’s values close to our hearts and we hold each other accountable to live up to them. However in our professional relationships we often can’t do that because people come from different communities than ours with different moral compasses. That’s why it can feel so hard to be authentic. We are outsiders to each other.

The How
1. Start by identifying for yourself the values (from all your communities) that drive you.

2. Develop habitual ways of talking about yourself to announce those values to others. “I am a person who ______” or Something that’s really important to me is ______” Work to ensure you don’t come off as judgmental or preachy. These statements are invitations for others to know you better, to understand who you are and what motivates you.

3. Listen for echos of your own values when others are talking and intentionally bridge to them. “I really like the way you just described your team. Sounds like teamwork and collaboration are things you value. I do too.” or “Good for you, nabbing that opportunity with hesitation. A woman after my own heart.” or “It sounds like you have family balance wired. I admire that.”

4. Invite others to understand your quirks and how yourself to etiquette and interactions that are comfortable for everyone, appropriate for professional relationships. What do you know about yourself that can rub people the wrong way? Signal that you are aware of it and give others permission to let you know when it’s too much without any hurt feelings. This lets them invest in getting to know you instead of avoiding or withdrawing when they see you coming.

We don’t have to have the same shared moral compass or hold each other accountable to exactly the same expectations if we come from different communities. We can reveal our authentic selves in ways that bridge to others’ values, bridge to others’ communities.