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Authenticity vs. Dirty Laundry

Oct 16, 2020

Authenticity vs. Dirty Laundry

 


I was grateful to be a guest in Bobby Klinck’s Bada$$ Online Marketers Facebook group in September and one of the topics we were discussing was showing up authentically and the difference between airing your dirty laundry and sharing vulnerability and real-life experiences. 

 

Bobby mentioned that one of his highest engaged emails he sends is a story about his dad being in the hospital after an airplane crash and Bobby having to make a very difficult decision about whether to head back to law school and compete in a competition that he’d been preparing for over the past 2 years. That email shared a difficult real-life season but it wasn’t airing dirty laundry. 

 

It was authentic and vulnerable.

 

With an actual example of laundry - but not dirty laundry! - Rachel McMichael’s podcast had an episode where she talked about the habit of piling the clean, folded laundry on the couch. And looking through it for the specific pair of pants her daughter wanted to wear. I have friends who are in the same boat - the folded laundry has a tough time making it to the drawers and closets - so the story resonated with me but it didn’t make me feel like I was seeing something or hearing something that I shouldn’t.

 

It was authentic but didn’t air any dirty laundry.

 

There’s a concept in public speaking that you have to work through your past before you should share it from stage. If you’ve ever listened to a speaker who was too close to what they shared, it’s an experience you remember. They can’t separate out the totality of the experience from the lessons they learned from it. They aren’t far enough away from it to edit, condense, and retell it in a way that the audience can draw a conclusion and use it for their own benefit.  

 

It’s true not just for speaking, but also for marketing. If you aren’t sure whether a story is appropriate to share ask yourself:

 

  1. Is it my story to share? Or does it actually belong to someone else? If it is their story, you may still use it but you’ll want to make it clear that it isn’t your story. Or you run the risk of inauthenticity.
  2. If I share this story, will it make my listeners feel uncomfortable? Will the discomfort help grow them or deepen the connection they have with me or will they feel like they saw or heard something that they shouldn’t have? You’ve probably heard or seen someone sharing where it felt icky. You don’t want your audience to feel that way.
  3. Have I already processed the emotions of this story? A friend told me that she wanted to share a story about her father but that she couldn’t even write it without sobbing. We discussed whether it was worth (right now) her fighting through the tears to get her words on paper or if she wanted more time to pass before she wrote it. And then we agreed regardless of whether she wrote the story right now or not, it wasn’t the right time to share the story with her audience. She needed more time to work through all the facets of the event before she’d be ready to share it. 

Choose your stories wisely and then share them openly.

 

Photo by T. Q. on Unsplash


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