Authenticity in Healthcare Communications

Authenticity as a buzzword needs to die. I’m going to kill it. Love is my gun. So sit back and watch.

During the last Webinar that¬†Health Is Social hosted, an attendee asked a great question about authenticity in communications with patients online. But there are times when the word Authenticity is used and I’d like to address that.

We all want authentic communications – it’s sort of one of those things you just expect. Who wants you to be Inauthentic?

But I don’t think healthcare communicators should worry too much about how to reconcile a professional/corporate personal with Authenticity.

What?! OMG – you can’t be serious!

Hold up – this is what I mean. People want all sorts of things – value, honesty, feedback, information, resources, support, humor… When they deal with an organizational representative, for the most part they understand that they’re working with someone who is playing a role. It’s OK to play a role – doctors play roles, nurses play roles, leaders play roles.

It’s when the roles people play hide things or divert attention that communications and trust break down.

“YOU’RE AUTHENTIC! YOU’RE REALLY AUTHENTIC!”

If your interactions with people are honest and clear and helpful, you don’t have to worry about authenticity. In fact, the more focused you are on being authentic, the less authentic you’ll be. Why? Because authenticity becomes a goal onto itself rather than a natural consequence of everything else you do.

Here’s an illustration of this phenomenon. Read the following sentence, pause for a moment and do exactly as it requests:¬†Don’t think of pink elephants prancing in tutus! You thought of pink elephants prancing in tutus just now, didn’t you? Some things you just can’t command – Authenticity is one of those things. Make sense?

When consumers interact with you and you give them what they’re looking for (whatever it is), I doubt very much they go home and say: Hey honey, I had a great back-and-forth online with ABC Company today. I got everything that I needed from them – great customer service, sincerity, empathy and useful information…but I’m devastated because I just don’t think they were authentic.

In the same way, when most people speak highly of you, the most common things they say probably don’t include “Wow, she was authentic! She was really authentic!”. Who talks like that? No, they’re going to talk about what you did for them.

I think Authenticity may be a misleading thing to worry about in online communications. Sincerity is probably a better term. You might care about appearing or being authentic, but I don’t really care. Basically, I want you to be honest and useful.

LOVE DON’T CARE ABOUT AUTHENTICITY

Ever love somebody? If so, were you worried about being authentic? Or did you just love?

Healthcare – and the communications that weave within and orbit it – need a lot of love in addition to hard work.

Love? Sounds corny. No place in business. Not a Healthcare term.

OK. BUT: If you hate communicating, do you think you’ll communicate well or turn off those who you need?

On the other hand, if you love communicating, don’t you think you’ll turn on the people whom you need to tune in?

Authenticity in Healthcare communications is what happens when you do all of the hard work of serving your informational customers.

If you don’t love what you do, authenticity isn’t your biggest problem, is it?

Not everybody loves what they do. Which means: you have an edge over them.

Love.

Love.

Love is the ultimate competitive avantage.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocial

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