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Here’s How You Might Seem Insincere Completely By Accident


Robby

Here in Indiana, we’re known for being friendly. That’s what people say about midwesterners in general. It’s been my experience, as a transplant to Indianapolis, that most Hoosiers are a pleasant and kind people. But sometimes, we appear insincere completely by accident.

Here’s what happens: a message that’s meant to be positive is generic, instead of specific. Recently I received an email that said this, verbatim:

It’s always nice to hear about all of the great things you’re accomplishing!

Best,
NAME WITHHELD

Wait, what?

Confused by Generic Messages
© Flickr User Anthony Easton

This is a welcome sentiment, at least in theory. If I complete some task and others take notice, I am gracious. But I didn’t do anything recently that I thought was all that noteworthy. Or if I did, that message fails to indicate which my actions were worthy of praise.

In fact, the email above might have been sent to any number of people at the same time! Since it didn’t include my name or any details, perhaps this is blanket approval delivered as a weird form of marketing. Am I supposed to think that the sender feels I am special, so that I might later buy their products or services?

In trying to get to the bottom of this, I came across this article on Slate about values here in Indiana. To quote:

Broadly speaking—which is the only way to talk about this kind of thing, after all—Midwesterners are, true-to-reputation, kind and friendly, but they aren’t particularly warm. Maybe in my narrow-minded, pre-Midwestern existence, I’d assumed that “friendly” and “warm” were the same thing, but it’s a distinction I’ve found unnerving.

If you want to be kind to others, be warm. That means be specific. If you’re offering praise, say what it’s for. If your offering condolences, mention the loss. If you’re just checking in, bring up the last time you saw them or what caused you to think of them.

I know I’ve been guilty of this. But if we make an effort to be specific, we’re less likely to seem insincere.

That’s something that’s good for Indiana as well as for you and me.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, August 26 2014 » Corporate Culture, Self Development, Success Consciousness, Uncategorized

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