I’m hearing a lot about sincerity these days. People seem to be able to toss the word around easily, but they may forget that it applies to them just as much as it applies to other people.
On Wednesday morning I heard former vice presidential candidate and Congressman Paul Ryan speaking on Morning Joe on MSNBC. Commenting on President Obama’s recent get-togethers with Republican congressmen and senators, Ryan questioned the President’s sincerity when he said, “Was the so-called charm offensive a temporary poll-driven political calculation or a sincere effort to try and bring people together?”
What is sincerity and why does it matter so much?
At the Emily Post Institute we have always believed and taught that sincerity is critical to building relationships. You can have the best manners in the world, or be as charming as all get out, but if you’re not sincere, it counts for nothing.
Think of it this way: If you are sincere, people will believe you. If people believe you, they’ll have confidence in you. And if people have confidence in you, they’ll trust you. When they trust you, you can work together to accomplish goals solve problems, or move forward. Relationships are built on trust.
Trust takes time build but once built, it takes only one mistake to lose. Then, if trust can be regained at all, the re-building process can take even longer than it did the first time.
Back to the President and Congressman Ryan. If the recent get-togethers are simply a political calculation, then, definitely, the President’s motives can be called into question. And if he’s not believable, the opposition won’t have confidence in him, and he will lose their trust.
Of course the same could be said of Congressman Ryan and the Republicans. Certainly, their sincerity is as much in question as the President’s. Since there is no doubt that the Republicans, the Democrats, and the President need to start building relationships with each other, the place to start is by being sincere in their communications with and overtures to each other. Only by being sincere can they begin to build the trust necessary to bridge ideological gaps and make the deals they need to make.
Businesspeople face the same challenge. A person’s ability to build strong positive relationships is at the core of his or her success. You don’t get considered for a contract or a job or a promotion unless you have the requisite skills. But in the final analysis, your sincerity, your ability to establish trust, will be a deciding factor.
Ryan is right. Sincerity matters—to establishing trust, to moving forward, to eventually getting things accomplished. If you’re going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
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