Why does everything have to be ‘authentic’?

Have you noticed how this year’s buzz word is ‘authentic’? Certainly it is the word of the moment in the coaching world. Its overuse is beginning to turn me in to a grumpy old woman! The word has become jargon. What does it mean?

According to my dictionary ‘authentic’ means, ‘of undisputed origin or authorship’, ‘genuine’, ‘trustworthy’, ‘reliable’, ‘duly executed’. Each of these words and phrases has a different meaning so when people use the term ‘authentic’ precisely what do they mean? My Thesaurus gives no less than 20 alternative words for ‘authentic’ including, accurate, actual, authoritative, bona fide, legitimate, real, true-to-life etc. I think  many of these alternatives are more precise and less open to misinterpretation which makes me wonder if people really want me to understand what they mean.

One of the things we’re always told about marketing is that we need to differentiate our offer from our competitors. How do people do this when they are all using the same words and phrases? English is a rich and diverse language and there are very few words for which there are no alternatives. So if you are currently using the term ‘authentic’ to describe what you do is there not a better word or more original term that you could use? Would a more precise word not make it easier for your prospects to understand what you can do for them?

There has been a huge explosion in the number of life and business coaches in the last couple of years. 25% of the attendees at a recent networking event were working in the coaching field. It is an enormous challenge for coaches with similar qualifications and experience to differentiate themselves from their competitors but the English language provides plenty of scope. So I’m throwing down the gauntlet, either tell me why authentic is the only possible word to describe what you do, and explain what you mean by it or find an alternative.

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