As we get ready for a job interview, first date, or public speech, we often hear the advice, “Just be yourself.” But, as Adam Grant, Wharton professor and author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World, points out, no one wants to hear your every unedited thought, and we can pay a price for being “too authentic.”
How much you aim for authenticity depends on a personality trait called self-monitoring. High self-monitors constantly scan their environment for social cues and adjust their communication. They dislike social awkwardness and want to avoid giving offense. Low self-monitors are guided by their inner states, regardless of circumstances. (In one intriguing study, when a steak was served, high self-monitors tasted it before adding salt, whereas low self-monitors salted it first.)
In the workplace, high self-monitors advance more quickly and earn higher status, in part because they’re more concerned about their reputations. And while that would seem to reward “phonies”, these high self-monitors spend more time discerning what others need and helping them get it. In a comprehensive analysis of 136 studies of more than 23,000 employees, high self-monitors received much higher evaluations and were more likely to rise to leadership.
We want to hear: Do you consider yourself a high or low self-monitor? Can you offer an example of the ways in which you successfully monitor what you communicate to others? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.