Wes Baker

Being Genuine

August 9th, 2010

My attention is a fickle sort, it flits back and forth between topics on Philosophy, Psychology, Business, Design and Programming. The idea of being genuine has seen a sort of resurgence in all of these topics recently and I don’t completely understand why it ever went away. It seems that we’ve pushed genuineness aside in lieu of higher profitability, quicker results or some other batch of snake oil. I see and can comprehend that some folks will ignore their morals and their self in order to profit (financially or otherwise), but I think in the long run you are hurting yourself.

Think of the last time you were on the phone for customer support for your credit card. What do you hear every 15-30 seconds? “Thank you for your patience, one of our staff will assist you momentarily.” They think constantly spewing that every so many seconds will really tide us over until we start talking with the customer support representative. Yet, it just seems to incite anger in most people. They don’t seem to have a genuine care about their customers, just their bottom line and a 15 minute wait time doesn’t matter one bit if they aren’t losing customers at an alarming rate.

Contrast that experience to calling Apple for support. First you have to log in using your Apple ID to their website, it’s a hoop but a small one. Then you choose from the hardware you have registered with your account. Then the system checks for your warranty coverage instead of the customer support rep asking for your serial number. (I have to imagine that saves Apple wasted time from misread and mistyped serial numbers.) Then you describe the problem using a few drop-downs and a description. Then you are presented with three options: Call me now, Call me later and I’ll call Apple later. It’s those first two options that shows that Apple genuinely cares about you, your problem and your time. Why do they care? Well, for one, they aren’t wasting your time while you sit with a phone pressed against your head listening to awful hold music for 15 minutes, they call you when they’re available. The other real benefit to it, is that they review your case and can take a look at what’s going on and come up with solutions before they call you.

Marketing is another area where there’s a rediscovered interest in genuineness. In Social Media if you aren’t being genuine folks will very quickly figure that out. Also, look at books like Speak Human, a whole guidebook on “outmarket[ing] larger firms by getting personal”, and being genuine goes right a long with being personal.

Now, traipsing across the internet we end up at The Art of Manliness. In their own words they are “a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man.” I think this is another case of folks trying to build a certain amount of genuineness back into their lives. If you take a look at some of their posts, you’ll see that the core of being a man is being genuine and expressing your needs and wants, not cowing to some image of what you think the ideal man is–typically an over-sensitive people pleaser who’s afraid to say what he thinks.

So then, what am I getting at? Being genuine is not a self-improvement project that you’re going to start next year. It’s not some fad that a social media guru concocted. It’s not the newest way to curb ADD. It’s a way to live that enriches every aspect of your life.