The Authenticity Rule (+ 9 Tips) for Forging the Relationships That Matter Most

As humans, we’re hardwired to crave praise and acceptance from those around us.

This is why the majority of us are endlessly bent upon imitating one another.

We have this innate drive to be accepted by our fellow man, so we conform to the image of ourselves we feel will be greeted most receptively by everyone.

There’s a problem with this, though. By conforming to an image, you do eventually find acceptance somewhere or other, but it’s probably on a superficial level. It probably isn’t about who you really are. 

Deep and meaningful relationships do not occur as a result of trying to live up to your impression of what other people find “cool” or “attractive”. 

The relationships that change us — the ones we forever cherish — materialize magnificently as a result of adherence to this one rule:

Be your authentic self.

We're all colorful peacocks. Show your rainbow.

Photo Credit: cuatrok77 (Creative Commons)

The Importance of Displaying Your Vibrance

If you have the courage to display your very own peacock’s-tail of graces, shortcomings, and peculiarities, you will wind up surrounded by only the most loyal and bona fide of comrades. 

See, we all have various sides of ourselves that we don’t show as often, for fear of turning people off.

But when we only present a facade or a partial truth of who we are, we don’t give people the opportunity to love us completely.

We may end up pleasing a greater number of people, but we miss out on what is perhaps life’s dearest opportunity: to be surrounded by a group of people who love us for being our honest selves. 

Finding this group inevitably entails that people will fall away — some will be repelled by your personality, others magnetized. And that’s okay.

No individual is loved by everyone, but deep down, even the naysaying hornswogglers will respect a man who dances to the rhythm of his own music.

Only by unapologetically being the wonderful and wacky, upright-walking, hairless ape that you are, will you find true flames of kinship which can crackle indefinitely in your flesh furnace.

Beyond being true to you, there are a few simple ways to ensure that you gain rapport with anyone you meet. Here are 9 quick tips to be friends with anyone worth befriending.

1. Listen closely and respond.

Really listening is difficult and requires concentration. Visualize and analyze what’s being said to you, and take a sincere interest in it. Ask questions about it.

Give people a chance to talk about themselves, and they’ll fancy you to be quite the conversationalist.

2. Discover common ground.

Mighty, Sequoia-esque friendships sprout when common soil is found in which to plant seeds.

You have more in common with everyone else than may seem immediately apparent. Instead of stalling on how someone is different from you, reflect on the humanity you share.

3. Embrace differences.

In the same vein, appreciate the richness of diversity amongst your friends and acquaintances. Be careful not to seek out people who think and act precisely as you do, or you may just find some (*shudders*).

4. Be trustworthy.

Over the years, I’ve struggled to stay silent when I know a juicy story or wild secret about someone. Yet, I’ve realized time and time again that friendships can only be built upon trust.

If someone confides in you, do your best to never betray their trust. Some people will forgive you if you do, but others may not. It is, without question, better to be honorable and never to force them to.

5. Give of yourself with no expected returns.

Whether of time, knowledge, or material possessions, we respond to generosity (and it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside). A friend of mine told me that his philosophy on this matter is that “sharing is caring.

Show friends that you care about them and are willing to help them however you can. Always be wary of people who will try to take advantage of this trait, but don’t let them stop you.

6. Be vulnerable.

Mutual vulnerability quickly leads to deeper connections. This is true in romantic relationships as well as friendships. Being vulnerable might involve sharing a personal story, revealing your doubts, or talking about how you feel.

Contrary to popular stigma, it isn’t “sappy” or “douchey” to have these conversations. Living life means experiencing a whole spectrum of emotion, and often times our closest friends have shared both our pleasure and our pain.

7. Don’t judge harshly.

To make the greatest number of real friends, it is a statistical fact that you mustn’t discount a friend before you meet them. Judging someone on the basis of his or her external appearance reflects nothing but your own inner doubt, nervousness, or hatred.

Do your best to see through presumptuous thoughts and get to know a person rather than assuming you know a look. Remember that your friends were nice enough to see past your goofy mug.

8. Genuinely compliment.

Don’t be a kiss-ass or a schmoozer. But, if something someone says vibes with you or if something someone does impresses you, tell them. It’s that easy.

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
-Mark Twain

9. Forgive.

Truth is, we’ve all done shit we’re not proud of. We’ve disrespected ourselves, wronged our loved ones, broken promises, and disregarded our moral compasses. We’ve all done these things, and this is why we must forgive them in each other.

When I look in the mirror, I choose to see a good person who has made a few unsound decisions in an insane world. I imagine most people I meet are about like me. I choose to forgive myself, and likewise, I choose to forgive them.

Imagine with me, for a moment.

A couple questions to ponder as you process this post.

What would the world look like if people stopped imitating and started living authentically?

What would happen if everyone always aimed to be a generous and understanding friend?

That’s a world I’d like to live in, and I try to live that vision every day by exemplifying the ideals I’ve exalted here.

And, God, let me tell you, I am 700 light years from perfect, but by channeling individuality and generosity of spirit, I see my attitude affecting the people around me, giving them permission to do the same.

And now I’m asking you, as a friend, to heed this advice. It may sound cliché or corny, but be yourself and be generous, then watch cool stuff happen.

I’ll be with you in spirit, jazzing up your world and the like. You know, “doing my thing”. Until next time, peace and love.

Your friend,

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
― Albert Camus

P.S. Subscribing for free updates is so easy it’s scary. But seriously, think about it. One bite-size chunk of knowledge per week and occasional free stuff. All this can be yours. 😀

In what ways do you struggle to be a good friend or family member? Also, any thoughts on how to be better at keeping secrets? As I said, I’ve always struggled with that one. Drop a comment below, even if it’s just to say hi and introduce yourself. Thanks.

If this essay resonated, you'll enjoy my Dead Honest Newsletter, my list of Cage-Melting Books, and following me on on Facebook and Instagram.

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About Jordan Bates

Jordan Bates is a Lover of God, healer, mentor of leaders, writer, and music maker. The best way to keep up with his work is to join nearly 7,000 people who read his Substack newsletter.

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10 years ago

Amazing post! Enjoyed reading it with a personal touch from you. Warmest wishes

Jordan Bates
10 years ago
Reply to  Jyo

Thank you so much, Jyo! Glad you enjoyed it and felt the writing had my personal stamp on it. That’s always the goal. Best regards.

10 years ago

I shed a tear when I finished reading this…this represents how I envision human beings acting toward one another and I wish everyone would see it in this light. That last part about being yourself and watch the magic happen is entirely true in my case and I hope our path crosses one day Jordan 🙂

Jordan Bates
10 years ago
Reply to  Florent


Beautiful to hear how much this touched you. Glad to hear that you relate and to know that there are others out there who feel this way.

I also hope our paths cross someday! Peace to you too. 🙂

10 years ago

Um, that quote is definitely NOT by Shakespeare.

Jordan Bates
10 years ago
Reply to  Erica

Gah! Thanks, Erica. I can’t find anywhere on the Internet attributing it to anyone else, but you’re right that it doesn’t sound like Shakespeare.

Not sure how I didn’t realize that. I’ve changed it. Cheers.

Annie D.
Annie D.
10 years ago

I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing!

Jordan Bates
9 years ago
Reply to  Annie D.

You’re welcome, Annie. Cheers.

8 years ago

Thank you for the post. Your tone is genuine and full of virtue 🙂

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