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?
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Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
This is a pretty interesting concept and I’m not sure if I fake it or not. I do firmly believe that your perception becomes reality, but in my mind I just am who I am.
I think most people are who they are most of the time. But then when something is on the line, you’ve got to step up your game and be something more!
Anthony Thompson says
Personally, I believe in faking it until you make it, and I believe that you can become what you pretend to be.
I’ve practiced this concept over the years, and it has given me many degrees of success. Many years ago, when I used to give amateur speeches with Toastmasters, I pretended to be a world renowned expert on the subject of my speeches. I blew away my audience each time.
Fake it until you make it has worked for me, and I believe that it can work for anyone.
Great example! I always try to pretend I am the greatest speech giver before a presentation. You’re right – it has wonderful effects.
Modest Money says
It’s very interesting how the brain works like that. If you make yourself believe something, your brain sends all kinds of signals that this must be true. In your career, I’m sure almost everyone has ‘faked it’ in one way or another. It’s just how the world works. If you’re going to always put forth your true emotions, that can get you into a lot of trouble. I’m really going to give this some more thought and see how I can apply it more in my life. Sometimes I can be a little too self conscious and let anxiety take over. If I can convince my brain that I shouldn’t react that way, it will probably help a lot.
Your brain is a really strange thing. Whatever your perception is, your brain defines it to the truth – no matter if it really is or not. You’re right about getting into trouble if you tell people what you really think. Sometimes your work-place is like a game, and the people that learn how to play the game well (faking it or not) will win!
I too have a lot of anxiety problems. Recognizing it and re-assuring yourself that everything is okay can definitely be helpful!
Karunesh @ chase-a-dream.com says
I agree, When people are sad and upset, it shows in there body language. Emotion effect our expressions and our posture. However the reverse is also true 🙂
It’s really difficult to not show your emotions when you’re upset. This happens to me often at work when I deal with an unreasonable request from a client. Your ability to be a great actor is a phenomenal asset in these situations!
Tackling Our Debt says
Projecting that your are confident and strong even when you are scared to death is a way of faking it till you make it. By portraying confidence over and over again, you will become confident and will not need to fake it anymore.
I completely agree! I believe this is how I find confidence on most subjects – by first believing I know what I’m doing and will succeed. When I really do, it’s not really faking anymore!
When I’m trying to cultivate a new behavior in myself, I do fake it until I make it. Faking it to win attention or affection is lame, though. You know it’s bad when you turn it off. If you keep it on at all times to change yourself, that’s okay.
Ha! Before I met my wife, I think I pulled a few “lame” faking it attempts to try to gain a date. You’re right! You can’t get crazy and stretch too far beyond who you really are!
there are times at my job, where i have to act like i know a technology better than i really do.. and then jump in later and learn what i need to solve the problem.. i want to be seen as someone who can make things happen, so i do fake it here and there.
I do the same! There are many times I “fake” that I know something but then later go back in secret and learn what I need to know!
Excellent article. I think we all “fake” daily unknowingly. For instance, when you agree with your boss even if you don’t like his ideas just to keep your job. 🙂
Amen to that! You’ve got to pick and choose your battles! Sometimes the faking just becomes a way of life!
Shaun @ Smart Family Finance says
I’ve always felt like faking it can give you confidence in situations that you normally are timid in. At the very least, it might give you the movivation to act in a situation where acting is better than being passive.
That is definitely true. I could think of several examples where I would have never had the courage to act if I hadn’t first “faked” myself into thinking I could.
Carrie Smith says
Like the saying goes “dress for the job you want not the job you have” and I totally agree. Of course we all have to live in the real world and face reality. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat ourselves or our jobs how we want/strive for them to be. There’s a fine line between “faking till you make it” and straight up lying to make yourself look better. Great points here.
I think that sums it up beautifully! There are definitely some people who have crossed the line between where faking it turns from good to bad. But like any skill, you’ve got to know when its use is appropriate.
I loved this article! I think I definitely do fake it. But not in the negative sense at all. I act the part I want to be and I can say that it has yet to fail (well, I’m no billionaire yet but hey…). It reminds me of the same concept as the book “The Secret.” Have you read it by any chance?
That’s funny – I act the part of a billionaire as well. I just say it’s for when I really am.
I have not read the Secret yet. Who is that by? I can always use a good book recommendation.
It is by Ronda Byrne. I definitely recommend reading it!
Thanks! I will look it up.