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A reader of my books called to get a recommendation for an investment advisor. I asked him why he was switching advisors. Here’s what he told me:

My advisor kept harping on how he always acts in my best interest. He made it seem like there was nothing in this relationship for him, which I knew wasn’t true, since I was paying hefty fees. It felt disingenuous.

I’ve heard similar stories before.

Here’s how to avoid being misunderstood by a prospect or client.

Your prospects have a superpower

Humans have a remarkable sixth sense (I call it a “superpower”) to detect insincerity and self-interest.

In one study (discussed here), students were recruited to record a video for the purpose of soliciting charitable donations. They were randomly assigned to two groups.

In one group, volunteers were promised 10% of the amount of contributions generated from their videos. No financial incentive was offered to the other group.

When the videos were shown to potential donors, even though they didn’t know which group was incentivized, they could sense it. Donors gave less money to the incentivized group, somehow correctly perceiving them as being more self-interested than those who weren’t.

This study has scary ramifications.