It is normally difficult to comprehend colossal difference it can make, when one is serious as opposed to being sincere, though dividing line between the two is very fine even by dictionary meaning!
I had a colleague in a German multinational company in which I had worked, who specialized in X-ray spectrometry. He was too passionate about his work. He showed highest degree of sensitiveness to customers. He would sit late in office and come early in the morning to make sure that he replied to each and every letter and enquiries from his regional sales office counterparts and customers. If anyone pointed out shortcoming in his replies or work, he would be hyperactive and take great deal of time to prove that he had not committed a flaw. He used to be right most of the times. During appraisals year after years, his boss used to give him always highest marks for his sincerity. One morning he reported sick and did not come for few weeks. He was diagnosed for having had high blood pressure, which he neglected for too long and that had affected his heart.
Few years down the line, I figured out real difference between seriousness and sincerity and I felt in retrospect that boss of my above colleague should have appraised him for being too serious, rather than being very sincere and issued him warning about long term impact on his health! Unfortunately like this boss, most of us in professional and personal lives hardly care to understand fine dividing lines, which eventually turn fatal or cause our failures!
I can now identify hundreds of employees in organizations I have served, who failed to grow commensurate with their efforts since their focus was on being serious and not sincere!
Drawing a distinction between Seriousness and Sincerity
Earnestness is the only attribute, which is common for seriousness and sincerity. Following would clarify how these 2 words make a world of difference:
- Seriousness makes you sensitive; whereas sincerity makes you savvy!
- Seriousness brings worries; on other hand, sincerity banks on wisdom!
- Former makes you prone to errors; but latter promotes accuracy.
- Former has shades of obsession; but latter swears by ownership.
- When you are serious, you tend to work to please others; whereas you work because it pleases you, if you are sincere!
Therefore, serious people are serious to show off their work and talk a lot about it!!
- Seriousness elicits emotions; but sincerity evokes inspiration!
It is for this reason that seriousness prompts people to make their fascination or frustration, pleasure or displeasure very explicit!!
- Seriousness makes you anxious; whereas sincerity makes you conscious or aware!
- Although serious people are intense in their work, it is sincerity that accentuates innovativeness!
- Seriousness makes you restless; sincerity, instead, molds you to be relaxed!
Above makes it amply clear that seriousness and sincerity are look-alike but their outlook is nearly opposite. Paradox is that both kinds of people, who are serious or sincere, appear to be fully evolved and engage in their work or duties. As a matter of fact, serious people are seen vociferously dedicated. Real challenge for serious people is that they believe they are doing it right and refuse to accept there is something missing in their approach. They keep wondering why they are less productive and often fail to get good results. On other hand, sincere people appear sober and always score high!
Sincerity signifies balanced state of mind!
There is very subtle difference in doing same thing in 2 or more alternative ways, which we term as fine dividing line. It this difference or dividing line, which separates winning and losing, blessing and bane, effective and defective!
Let us understand how such subtlety comes.
We start to do it right and we don’t notice or sometimes don’t even comprehend how wrong creeps in. To cite some examples:
- You have a close relative ailing and it is right to attend to her/him. But, when you start taking care of the relative, ignoring your health and other duties, it starts hurting you.
- Your loyalty to your employer and customers is strong to an extent that skews your work-life balance.
- You are humble and hence, hesitate to tell your boss where it hurts you, even when you are ill-treated or ill-rewarded for your efforts!
- You are eagerly waiting for your spouse to return home in evening, which is a good sign; but beyond a time you become anxious and even frustrated. When he finally arrives, you would not like to hear him why he got delayed but would like to be heard how you have been hassled!
It is also a fact that sincerity is a highly misunderstood quality, though it is one among the most significant ones! Sincerity symbolizes balanced state of your mind – neither right nor left; just the center. When you are sincere, you are genuine. You start to do things, because that is obvious, not an option. You don’t do it for anyone’s sake. You do not see any other alternative but to do it. You don’t get obsessed to single thing or thought but view all aspects with same genuine feeling. This is when your efforts fructify and you start to reap rewards.
So, it solidly pays to be sincere, but not being serious!