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In a world of influencers, entrepreneurs, and people looking to make an impact, what will really make you stand out?

While many may be looking for that perfect formula for success based on finding the right thing to say to the right people at the right time, interacting this way can come across as very inauthentic.

People really desire true connection and genuine engagement by those who are willing to be present without judgment and are vulnerable enough to be themselves without having to project an ideal image. Both you and your business stand to gain much more from allowing your true voice to shine.

Here are some do’s and don’ts that will allow you to have an authentic voice that engages those around you:

Don’t Judge

If you go into any interaction holding onto rigid views of right and wrong, good and bad, positive and negative, it immediately thwarts authentic connection. However, if you are willing to view the world without limited viewpoints, assumptions or expectations, you will open doors for genuine engagement and communication. The judgments and narrow aspects in our thinking are not always obvious at first, so it is important to make a commitment to become aware of the beliefs and ideas holding you back, and honestly challenge them as they come up. What limiting beliefs and perspectives about you and your business do you have that you have never questioned? Have you limited your ability to connect with others based on judgments of what you can and can’t say, be or do? If you gave up those judgments, what new connections could you create?

Do Be Present and Curious

Being present and curious has two elements: asking questions and listening without judgment. Questions fuel curiosity. Ask open-ended questions such as: What do I/you know about this? What ideas can I add to assist this project/product? What else is possible and what choices do I/we have that we haven’t considered? When you ask questions, listen with an open mind. Don’t try to assess feedback, information or comments in terms of good/bad or right/wrong. Allow for all the ideas you have and all the ideas others have. Continue to be curious by asking, “Which ideas can we implement that would create greater?” and “What else haven’t we considered?”

Don’t Anticipate or Expect Certain Outcomes

Have you ever gone into a meeting expecting the worst? Or become so vested in the outcome of a particular deal or contract that you came across desperate or pushy? Every time we try to anticipate or fixate on certain outcomes, it creates and needless amount of stress and can undermine our personal health and well-being, as well as having a potentially negative effect on our interactions.

Do Be Open and Fresh in Mindset

Rather than waste time anticipating, predicting, hoping and expecting – what if you mentally gave every interaction and conversation with a clean slate, a sense of adventure, and wondering how everything could work out to your advantage? If you don’t project a specific outcome, the situation remains wide open for all kinds of unexpected opportunities and information to come forward and contribute to you. It also allows you to be present with the person/people in front of you, giving them a sense of being treated with regard and respect.

Don’t Interact from Obligation or Agendas

You can always tell the difference between someone who is talking to you because they want something from you, or are just being “polite”, compared to those who are genuinely happy to be around you. Which energy is more authentic and inviting?

Be Authentically Interested in Others

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when you are genuinely interested in other people – you stand out and immediately become more interesting to others! It is worth being interested in other people, because everyone knows something different, and has a different perspective. Being interested is easy – just ask people questions about them. People love the chance to talk to someone who will genuinely listen. When you talk with people, come from the perspective of, “What does this person know that I don’t?” They will tell you all kinds of information about what interests them, what they have going on and what is important to them. If you listen, you will gain awareness of ways to connect and potentially create opportunities with this person in the future.

Don’t Project an Image or Mimic Others

Trying to cultivate a perfect image or mimic other people’s style, formula for success, or way of functioning will never come as easily and joyfully to you as just being yourself. It is highly likely that you created your business because you knew that you had something unique or different to offer. If you mimic others or try to create an idealized image, you will undermine and discount the exact difference that inspired you in the first place.

Be Honest with and True to You (and Your Business)

Do you honor your unique voice and the voice of your business? Acknowledge the gift that your difference creates, and what your projects, business, and ideas contribute in the world? What is different about you that you have never acknowledged? What do you know that no one else does? What is your business capable of being in the world that no other business can be? When you ask these questions, you allow your awareness, brilliance, and voice to come to the forefront in the creation of your life and business, rather than trying to create from other’s points of view about what is and isn’t possible for you.

Your status socially and professionally can be founded on authentic connection to those around you. If you are willing to be true to and honor your unique voice, be open, curious, interested and if you listen and speak without judgment of you or anyone else, your difference will be noticed and your voice will stand out, whether you are the one talking, or not.