Are you sincere or do you manipulate others?

I have a friend who is one of those people who gives you the shivers, because she’s just “too nice.” Nothing she says or does feels authentic. When I visit her, she welcomes me with an exuberance that is over the top. Her attempts to make me feel comfortable are reminiscent of Mrs. Cleaver.

I hate it.

It makes me feel like she’s trying cover up the fact that she doesn’t like me. I don’t even know if she doesn’t like me, but it sure feels that way. Whenever I’m around her, my B.S. detector screams at me that she isn’t being sincere.

Most people want to be friendly. But when we overdo it, other people tend to back off because they can detect our insincerity and the motives behind it—the need to be liked, to receive external validation.

So, how do you follow the rules of communication, but remain sincere?


  1. Be true to yourself. It’s important to know who you are and what is important to you. If you aren’t comfortable talking about politics, then be true to yourself (while still being polite) and ask that politics not be discussed. Don’t try to do something you don’t want to do—or wouldn’t normally do—just to fit in. That’s what I mean about not being authentic.

Part of the reason I feel uncomfortable with Sharon is that it feels like she isn’t being true to herself. I wouldn’t be two minutes in her company, and she’d start complimenting me and taking an unusual amount of interest in me. She doesn’t do that with anyone else, just me. I think she isn’t true to herself, nor is she real. She isn’t normally very complimentary, so it just doesn’t feel nor sound “right” to have her shower compliments on me. I’ve seen her with others, and she doesn’t do that. That incongruence in behavior makes it very uncomfortable for me to be in her presence.

  1. Give respect to get respect. If you are working with someone you don’t respect, you’re in big trouble. For people to give you respect you must give them respect. You won’t get it if you don’t give it.

While I do suggest that you be true to yourself, that doesn’t mean that you announce it when you don’t respect or like someone, either. Let’s assume there is an executive in your company you don’t like and you don’t respect. When you are in their company, you pretend that all is well and that there are no issues in your relationship. You probably don’t even tell anyone that you can’t stand the executive. Being “true to you” doesn’t mean you have permission to tell him or anyone else what you think of his drinking or leaving early, etc.

Instead, it’s professional to try and find some common ground. Something about the person you can respect. Maybe he’s a good father. Perhaps he is great with employees or offers a great workplace environment because he insists that employees’ needs are taken care of. Maybe he is an excellent spokesman for your company or has great programs in the community.

You don’t have to like him, but you do have to find something about him you can respect. The danger of not doing that is that your actions will speak louder than your words, and the B.S. detectors of everyone in the office will go off.

I don’t really like Sharon, but she generally is very kind and is a good sister to my friend. I focus on those aspects when we are together. I respect that she has a good heart and is a good sister. That is enough for me to be authentic in our dealings together.

  1. Be accountable. If something went wrong at work and you were the cause, sticking your head in the sand is not going to make it better. If an apology is appropriate, apologize. More importantly, fix whatever needs to be fixed and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Don’t be overly concerned with who did what, either. That is just looking for someone to blame and it typically doesn’t matter.

For instance, let’s assume that we work together and I missed a very important deadline. Missing my deadline caused you to miss your deadline, and instead of dealing with your missed deadline you chose to blame me and effectively “throw me under the bus” with our boss as the reason you missed your deadline.

While it may be partially my fault, ratting me out certainly isn’t going to help our working relationship. If I feel that you’ve been blaming me for your missed deadline and potentially making me look bad, I don’t expect that you and I will then pretend that nothing happened between us. If I really did cause you to miss your deadline I do expect you will take some of the ownership of that problem, and not put it all on my shoulders. Or, at the very least, hash it out with me privately, not take the issue to our boss when I’m not even there to defend myself.

But if you throw me under the proverbial bus and then act as if nothing happened, as if we are still great buddies, I’m going to feel manipulated. Your sincerity will be perceived as false. And this will create a rift in our working relationship.

But if we talk about it like professionals, and you explain how my missed deadline caused you to miss your deadline, we can work it out—and afterward, still be friends. Acting like nothing happened and making me look bad will cause you to act and sound insincere when we are together. Professionals and friends can have respectful conversations to discuss what happened and put our heads together to figure out what we can do to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and then move on.

When our internal radar detects that someone is not sincere, we feel manipulated. When we feel manipulated we doubt even more. If I don’t have trust in you as a person, we are never going to connect.

Be real. Be respectful, polite, and be professional. If you can’t do those things, then people will feel uncomfortable in your presence.

Article By Rhonda Scharf,


Rhonda Scharf is a well recognized Professional Speaker, Trainer and Author. She specializes in helping Administrative Professionals to thrive in their work environment using her proven tools and strategies. She is a trusted resource for many organizations worldwide, and is based in Canada and the United States. She holds the highest speaking designation in the world, the Certified Speaking Professional and was recently inducted into the Canadian Speaking Hall of Fame. She is only one of two people to hold her CSP, HoF, and the Spirit of CAPS. Rhonda is also an active member and supporter of many administrative professional associations across the world.

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