When You Should Stop Faking It Til You Make It

Posted October 24, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

We’ve all heard the term “fake it til you make it.” Recently, we even brought you a TED Talk about how your own body language can help you “fake it” and your mind will follow. While none of us want to be called fake, we’ve all been in situations were “fake it til you make it” saved our asses, both personally and professionally.

One of our favorite writers, Megan Broussard, recently wrote “Ways To Fake It Til You Make It” over on TheGrindstone.com, and we love her characterization of when you should fake it to get yourself ahead. Megan contends, and we agree, that you can fake jargon, you can fake being cool under pressure, you can fake being interested in a certain topic. But there are some things you simply can’t fake, and there’s a time when you must stop faking it and start making it.

So when should you stop faking it? A few instances:

  • When asking a question would solve your problems. Too often we “fake it” when the truth is we really just need to ask a few questions. Instead of nodding your head and saying, “OMG, I know,” think about honestly saying, “Can you tell me more about your view on that subject? I’m not sure I’m well-versed enough to really give you my opinion yet.”
  • When faking it will make you look stupid. Years ago, a woman in a committee meeting used the word “tony” meaning “upscale.” I honestly had never heard this word in my life. She used it in a sentence like this, “Oh, that is so tony.” At the time, I worked for someone named….yup, you guessed it….Tony. I responded with a ridiculous “faking it” statement like “You’re right, he would love that. Isn’t he great?” She looked at me like I had two heads. If I’d just been honest and admitted I had no idea what she was talking about or….better yet….kept my mouth shut, I would have been saved a lot of embarrassment.
  • When you’re always, always faking it. Being “fake” in the sorority girl “OMG, she’s so fake” kind of way sucks. But sometimes it’s unavoidable. You find yourself, with certain people, always saying, “Oooooohhhh, Hiiiiiiii. Sooooo goood to seeeee you!” You’re being fake. Stop that. And frankly, if you find yourself with certain people always being fake, chances are that person isn’t good for you and you can stand to avoid them or cut them out.
  • When you don’t remember someone’s name. This is the #1 way I see women “faking it.” We call each other sweetie or honey or girl when the truth of the matter is, we don’t remember a person’s name. Learn to stop faking it by sincerely and with grace saying this exact sentence: “Forgive me, I feel terrible, but I’ve completely forgotten your name. Please tell me again so I can address you and remember it!”

Sometimes, you’ve gotta fake it. But other times, you need to stop faking it. Learn when to fake and when to stop faking and you’ll be authentic….most of the time.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."