A lot of my team’s work has to do with shaping and growing top-notch relationships with crucial clients, staff members, and colleagues. That sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many ways it can go wrong.

Take a key client relationship: you’ve honestly taken it for granted until you suddenly realize they’re seriously looking at a competitor. Or a key staff member: you’ve assumed they would stay with your team forever until you hear through the grapevine that their resume is on the street. Or a key colleague: yes, you’ve worked on many projects together but you haven’t heard from her in a long time and start to realize that she’s more aligned with a rival than with you now.

In any of these situations, the natural human reaction is to leap into action, turning on the charm. You send a gift that client, take the staff member to a “mentoring” lunch, or drop the colleague a “hey, I was just thinking of you” call. Unfortunately, whenever we talk to the other parties in these cases, they say basically the same thing. “I don’t believe the gesture. I think the (supplier/employer/colleague) is just doing what they always do: looking out for themselves.”

Here’s the simple point: interest in others and their well-being simply cannot be faked. You can’t replace it with money or tokens. If you’re looking for loyalty and long-term relationship, you cannot buy it – it must be earned through consistent, credible attention.

I’ve been lucky enough to be around people who model this sort of sincerity. They are people who have that intangible quality that makes you happy to work with them. They get that little bit of extra energy and commitment from those around them. And the reason is simple: they sincerely, consistently care about the interests of those around them.

Who needs some sincerity from you today (and tomorrow and the next day)?