The Advanced Curriculum

In Defense of Insincerity

Of all the business arts, the ability to be credibly and honorably insincere is perhaps the most misunderstood and undervalued. There are several disciplines built on the art of high insincerity, including the entire field of diplomacy and high-level mergers-and-acquisitions work, where two parties constantly discuss mutual benefit when the real matter under discussion is conquest and surrender. The insincerity involved helps make the process more tolerable for everybody.

Insincerity is also at the center of many of our most essential social institutions, including but not limited to marriage, child-rearing, and successful post-divorce relations with former spouses.

Let us begin with some short multiple-choice questions. Don’t worry. No student has correctly answered them all on the first try. But together they help us to understand the magic of an insincere mien, a mien that will help you to negotiate many a craggy and seemingly impassible predicament.

What is the proper rejoinder to this question: “Do you think Larry likes me?”

A. Of course he does. You’re one of his most valued soldiers.

B. No. It’s quite obvious he doesn’t. Haven’t you noticed that he leaves the room every time you come into it?

C. What? I’m sorry. I was texting my lunch order for sushi. If they don’t get it by 11 a.m. you might as well just forget it.

D. Hey, who does Larry like, really? The most important thing is that I love ya. Now get outta here, you big chucklehead.

The correct answer is D. because it demonstrates the engine that moves so much of the valuable insincerity that makes the workplace tolerable.


For further information on the lessons contained here, refer to The Curriculum: Everything You Need To Know To Be A Master of Business Arts.


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