Fake. Phony. Plastic. Two-faced. Poser. Any of these sound familiar? They’re the names we give to people who are pretending to be something they’re not. Perhaps even you’ve been called these once before!
But does faking it just have a bad rap? Or can there really be some benefit and well-placed intentions to pretending to be something you’re not – both in your personal life and professional career? Is it possible to really become the thing you’re pretending to be?
The inspiration for this post came from a recent and very well done article in the April issue of Men’s Health magazine called “The Life-Altering Power of Faking it”.
First things first, the article is NOT promoting non-genuine or malicious behavior. Rather, the article centers around several documented psychological experiments involving the power of self-behavior change. Here were a few of the highlights:
• An experiment at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University demonstrated that candidates who stood using “power poses” versus those that assumed more wimpy ones felt more “in charge” after only 2 minutes. Not only that, they had more testosterone in their saliva.
• The University of Amsterdam conducted an experiment that concluded that when buying a car, don’t get mad or succumb to being too friendly. Keep a cool head and threaten to walk away if the deal isn’t going your way. The salesmen were more responsive to the non-hotheads, but walked all over those that gave into their nicey-nice antics.
• A study at the George Mason University concluded that if we give more enthusiastic reactions during our communication with others, they will not only feel better but become more invested in us.
• A Harvard psychologist designed an experiment where elderly men were given the chance to live for a week as if it were the 1950’s again. The result: They appeared younger and healthier than before the experiment.
Can You Become What Your Mind Perceives to You to Be?
“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.” – Aristotle
So is there some substance to “faking” who you are when the potential benefits include advantages in your career, higher confidence, better health, and improved interaction with others, etc? If you truly believe in how you are presenting yourself and desire to be this type of person, is this really even considered “faking it” anymore?
In my opinion, we all become the person we believe we are by practicing the habits we wish to exude each day. And I believe there is certainly nothing wrong with improving these perceptions as we see fit!
“But that’s not being yourself” someone might say! Well, what is the definition of “being yourself”? Have you always been the same person your whole life? Are you never going to change who you are? I sincerely doubt it. So why not focus on aspects of your behavior you find to be lacking and strive for improvement?
Here’s a few examples I’ve practiced at work:
• Be “the Politician” when I meet a new client for the first time – Lead with a nice smile, good eye contact, deliver a firm handshake, maintain posture, speak clearly, and remember to crack a joke here and there, etc.
• Put on some “George Clooney” swagger before a meeting – Making sure to get what I want but make it hard for others to disagree with me.
• Be “the President” when I have to give a speech or presentation; sometimes in front of a large crowd (by the way, I’m terrified of public speaking).
• Maintain composure and cool when a customer makes a ridiculous or impossible demand.
• Make sure to maintain my dominance and authority when it’s time to discipline or fire a fellow employee.
These benefits are not all career driven. They can improve your personal life as well.
• Be more interesting when people talk to you.
• Look people in the eye when they talk to you. And smile sometimes.
• Despite how bad a day I may have had at work or how tired I am, give my wife and kids the attention and enthusiasm they deserve. My bad day or tiredness is not their fault …
• Show more interest in what others have to say. Ask questions to let them know I’m listening.
To say you are “faking” something has a negative connotation. Be each of these is a sincere improvement – leading towards a better career, a better home life, etc.
And what does any of this got to do with your finances? As you can probably guess, higher success at work and at home will exponentially increase the probability of financial success. You’ll not only earn more at work, but you’ll also open yourself up to opportunities that you may not have recognized previously. The connection between happiness, performance, and income is a delicate balance. Improve one and you will find it easier to improve the rest.
Readers: Do you fake it? Why do you? Do you think this is not genuine behavior, or do you see this as a way of becoming the person you truly wish to become? What benefits have you reaped from engaging in this type of self-improvement?
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art