We get a lot of dope on creating the right impression, not getting a second chance to create a first impression and so on, from all over. It makes sense, given the fact that the human attention span is 8 seconds, one second less than that of a goldfish. The imprint created in those few seconds does matter.
However, it does not change the fact, that life and relationships are much larger than this brief first interaction. All the ‘firsts’ occur only once. Relationships need to move beyond that, and mature into mutually beneficial bonds.
There are 5 SMART ( Sincerity, Modesty, Authenticity, Respect and Trust ) components that build up a personality, beyond the appearance. The absence of these components also builds up a personality. And these carry the power to either re-confirm, neutralize or negate the first impression.
Dictionary meaning – ‘Sincerity is the virtue of one who speaks and acts truly about his or her own feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and desires’ .
There is no formula for sincerity, other than being yourself. Integrity is the unity of thought, speech and action, and sincerity is the outward manifestation of the same. The other person tries to gauge this from your body language and communication style, and reconfirms it when words are converted to action. Over-polishing has an adverse impact.
Sincerity is the first step towards building up the remaining 4 components.
One need not be humble or reverant, but a little modesty has done no harm to anyone. Modesty is nothing to be ashamed of, and only places you a few notches higher, in the eyes of others. Modesty generates awe, not a vulgar display of wealth or your achievements. This finally leads to enhancement of self-esteem, and an integrated personality.
Let people see your achievements on their own, rather than pushing your miserable self on them. Yes, all over-the-top, desperate attempts to show-case yourself indicate a low self-esteem.
Authenticity is the foundation on which sincerity and other virtues are built. It is being comfortable with who you are, and projecting the same to the world. It does get moderated by professional or social demands, but never fully obliterated. The ‘inner you’ needs to be aligned to the ‘outer you’.
Being multi-dimensional is authentic ; wearing multiple faces and speaking in multiple voices is fake; and the humblest of minions will know the difference.
Respect is an acknowledgement of the other person’s individuality, and acceptance of one’s right to exist, in the realms of their comfort. Discipline is an outer layer imposed on this fundamental right, applicable to certain aspects of a person’s existence, related to society or an organization. It can never replace the core of the person’s existence, and that is the core which needs to be taken into consideration. Certain boundaries are not meant to be crossed, whatever the level of your authority or status.
Respect begets respect.
Trust is the culminating and the most important factor, that drives relationships and cements bonds. Why do people need to trust, or actually trust each other ?
- There is always a fine balance between a person’s actions in your interest, and the actions in his own interest. Self-interest can always drive a person to the other side.
- There is a world beyond the boundaries of verifiability, and quite a lot of your life falls outside that.
- There are circumstances in which a person has no option but to trust, to facilitate forward movement. In this case, each and every action of yours is being viewed with caution, to confirm that the trust placed was not wrong.
- There are circumstances in which the authentic selves and thoughts/beliefs of the people involved do not match, but yet, they need to carry a task to completion. Trust needs to be inspired to the extent, that the personality differences will not interfere with the completion of the task, and one will abide by the rules of the team or organization.
- Too much of trust creates complacence, and such a scenario creates fertile ground for the crooks. Hence, trust is always confined to certain boundaries. Crossing over by any one party, damages the bonds forever.
Trust is therefore, always bound by expectations and perceived effort. Boundless trust would border on absolute faith and devotion, and is beyond the purview of this article.
It is interesting to note how each of the SMART factors, if overdone , can prove to be your undoing. Your existence, values and individuality cannot be compromised to seek approval from others, and boundary lines are important.
The psychologist and coach, Dana Gionta says :
“Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support. And remember that it’s a skill you can master.”
In fact, YOU are defined by the boundaries you set, carved by the choices you exercise and shaped by your actions. Whatever you choose not to do is the dark background that helps your light to shine through.