How Can People Tell If You Are Sincere?

People do business with people they trust.  It’s one of the reasons why sellers on e-Bay are so concerned to get positive feedback after you buy something from them.  Its why restaurants want good reviews on Trip Advisor.  They feel peer reviews are very trustworthy.  When you are attending community events and social prospecting, you meet people.  How can they tell if you are sincere?

When writing my book Captivating the Wealthy Investor, I interviewed a property developer.  He had an interesting observation:  “People don’t lie to you the first time they meet you.  They don’t have a reason to lie yet.”  There is a hidden message present:  HNW individuals are used to being approached by people who want something from them.  They have excellent radar that can sense when a person is genuine and when they are faking in preparation for putting the bite on you.

How can you communicate sincerity vs. sounding like a phony?  Here are five things you can do:

1. Develop a relationship based on common interests.  You sometimes hear about the person who, after learning the other person is an avid golfer, invites them to play a game.  Once on the course, it’s evident the skill levels are very, very different.  This makes the HNW person suspicious. 

Instead:  Find that interest where you both have a passion.  For me, it’s wine.  For you it might be watching your favorite football team.  The genuine enthusiasm and depth of knowledge you have confirms you really have a shared interest.

2. Be substantial without BSing.  Some body must have sent tis cartoon to you:  “I hate it when people act all intellectual and talk about Mozart while they’ve never seen one of his paintings.”  The joke relies on the knowledge Mozart was famous as a composer, not an artist.  When you meet well-travelled HNW individuals, it’s tempting to exaggerate a bit regarding your experiences.  The object is to convince them you and they are in the same league.  It doesn’t work.

Instead:  If you have been to the same Caribbean resort of European city, mention why you liked it.  If you haven’t, draw them out:  “How did you choose it?” or “Would you go back?”  

Caring about their needs.  It’s easy to focus the conversation on yourself, but it pays to remember details about their life and what you spoke about last.  Were they heading off on vacation the last time you saw them?  How was their trip?  Did they mention a close relative was ill?  How are they doing?

Instead:  Bear in mind: “Less is more.”  You can ask about that health issue, then stop talking.  Let them fill the silence.  Listen attentively.  It shows you are concerned.

4. Maintain eye contact.  By now you have learned not to call someone with the intention of leaving a message when you only have a minute before that scheduled Zoom call.  What happens if they answer?  Do you get off the phone right away?  The event attending version is to focus exclusively on the person you are talking with, looking directly at them.  If eye contact is tough for you to maintain, look at their nose instead. 

Instead:  Don’t look over their shoulder to see kif someone more important has turned up.  Focus your attention on the person opposite you.  Stay engaged in the conversation until you get the clue, they want to break it off.  You will know.

5. Have credible accomplishments.  You’ve heard stories about fisherman who exaggerate.  Other people talk about hair raising experiences.  They were lucky to escape with their lives. People can tell when something is beyond the realm of possibility.  Put another way, if one of your social media connections bragged about their cryptocurrency trading strategy, how it made 15% every time they did a trade and results were guaranteed, wouldn’t you be suspicious? I was.

Instead:  Downplay your accomplishments slightly.  Be self-effacing.  Know how you could prove you accomplished what you said in case anyone called you on it.  You don’t want to be bluffing.

Sincerity and truthfulness are building blocks when starting a relationship.  Get them in place early.

Related: Is Owning Rental Property a Fixed Income Substitute?