In my last post, I talked about the power of sincerity – authentic interest – (and the emptiness of faking it). A while back, I ran into a client who happened to know a long-time friend of mine. When I mentioned that I thought we had this friend in common, Gus (my client) gushed: “Dan is one of my heroes.”

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t happen every day in my world.

I was curious what provoked this strong positive reaction. Gus proceeded to tell me this story:

I’ve known Dan for a long time, but recently lost touch with him because I was so buried at work. He left me several kind voicemails and I didn’t return one of them. I kept feeling more and more guilty about not calling him until I finally called. I started the conversation by falling on my sword, telling him how lousy I felt about not returning his calls and being an all-around lousy friend.

Dan interrupted me and said, “Gus, it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since we’ve talked. I’m always glad to hear your voice.”

I’m lucky enough to count Dan as a friend. And anyone who knows him will tell you he was being 100% straight with Gus. That’s just Dan being Dan.

Here’s what makes that sort of sincerity so powerful: it cost Dan nothing and it won him Gus’ long-term loyalty and friendship. If and when Dan needs a favor from Gus, what are the chances he might get an audience?

Who are the Dan’s in your life? Have you thanked them recently?

And who are the people like Gus in your life? Who needs the free, yet priceless gift of sincere interest?