Don’t Underestimate

Three people welcoming someone
Illustration by

I’m finding there’s a collateral benefit to doing the massive amount of research required to finish my new book:  Ask:  Be Liked.  Be Better.

It’s making me “better.”

Here’s one example.  Maybe it will help you as well.


Sincerity is one of the most critical traits necessary to forming meaningful relationships.  I discuss it extensively in Ask.

When I was doing my research, I was surprised at how sensitive people are to detecting insincerity.  In one study, researchers played recorded responses to questions like, “What do you think of my new hairdo?” Some of the responses reflected the honest views of the speaker. Others had the responder reading from a script. Listeners were generally able to distinguish sincere responses from insincere ones.

In another study, participants were told that videos they recorded would be used to raise funds for a charity. One group was advised they would receive a financial incentive based on the amount of money raised by their video. The other group wasn’t told anything about incentives, but merely advised their video would support the charity.

When the videos were shown to potential donors, even though they didn’t know which group was incentivized, they could sense it. Donors gave less money to the incentivized group, somehow correctly perceiving them as being less sincere.

Lesson learned

You’re probably familiar with the expression:  You can’t fake sincerity.

It’s true.  If you want to deepen your relationships, don’t underestimate the ability of others to detect self-interest and insincerity.

It’s easier to just be genuinely sincere.