Fake It Till You Make It: A Popular but Terrible Advice

When people face situations wherein they feel unqualified or out of place, they fake confidence, so that they won’t look scared or stupid in front of everybody else. More specifically, they fake it until they make it.

At first glance, this longstanding adage might sound like a great suggestion. After all, the phrase “fake it till you make it” coaches you to behave like you’re in a position well before you master it. If you want to be a successful professional, for example, you have to act like one right at the start of the job interview.

Does this mean that you should follow this adage? The answer is no.

We’re going to discuss why you shouldn’t follow this bad advice along with the consequences of faking confidence.

What Does Fake It Till You Make It Mean?

Let’s first talk about what this phrase means. Fake it till you make it is an aphorism that suggests that by imitating an optimistic mindset, competence and confidence, an individual can realize those qualities in real life and achieve the results they want for themselves.

An aphorism, in the English language, is a laconic, terse, concise or memorable expression of a general principle or truth.

The practice of faking it till you make it includes two essential elements: visualization and understanding where you ultimately want to wind up.

The idea is that you’re more likely to get what you desire when you know what you seek, describe the outcome you like to experience and visualize your plans.

Why Do People Fake It Till They Make It?

Proponents of the “fake it till you make it” believe that this advice truly works. If you fake a smile, for instance, you’ll become happier.

A study published in PsyArXiv Preprints revealed that there’s strong evidence to demonstrate that smiling can perk you up to a small degree. The primary mechanism for this is facial feedback. The facial muscles of a person can influence the emotional state.

Why You Shouldn’t Fake It Till You Make It

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There’s a lot of articles on the web explaining how you can fake your way to success. There are even tips on how to:

  • Sound like you know what you’re talking about (even if you have no clue whatsoever)
  • Appear more important during meetings
  • Display authority with the appropriate power pose

Here’s the thing: faking it till you make it will never get you the career, business or life success you want as quickly as hard work and a solid plan.

If you need further convincing, check out these reasons:

This Bad Advice Causes Mistrust

You don’t have to advertise that you’re not highly skilled or knowledgeable, but you shouldn’t act as if you’re super talented and provide a false impression of yourself. This erodes trust.

If you fake it till you make it, you may mask the positive aspects of your skills and personality that are attractive to a colleague or an employer. People may trust you less if you’re not sufficiently open, honest or transparent.

You’ll Be Busy with Yourself

When you fake it till you make it to an event and meet a person along the way, you won’t be invested in them. You’re going to be busy maintaining a pose to hide your insecurity, shyness or inadequacy. This can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.

What’s more, you likely won’t be open to a real conversation, as your mind is likely full of self-talk. This means that you won’t be able to pay attention to the other person.

You’ll Be Holding Yourself Back

Faking it till you make it prevents you from making the effort to improve. Given that you’re spending your time and energy pretending to be someone you’re not, you’re expending the effort to learn that skill. What you’re really doing is sabotaging yourself by not taking the time to learn the skills you need to succeed.

Given these reasons, don’t fake it till you make it. The effort is just not worth it.

How Faking It Till You Make It Can Backfire

You’re going to be in a world of hurt if you insist on faking it till you make it. Here are a couple of scenarios where this supposedly sage advice will undeniably result in your failure:

When You Think That You Know More Than You Do

Typically, people who fake it till they make it start things off with a bang. They spit out quirky, obscure facts to make themselves look knowledgeable.

Eventually, though, they take things a step too far and venture to a subject that they’re not familiar with. This can end in a disaster, especially when someone from the audience finds out that they’ve been faking it all along and don’t have a good grasp of the subject matter.

When Your Verbal Communication and Body Language Looks Condescending and Pompous

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

When you fake it till you make it, you do your best to make yourself look good, think that you’re better than everyone else and believe that you know all the answers. If someone from the meeting disagrees with you or finds out that you’re faking it, you’ll likely feel annoyed. You’re going to come across as condescending when you allow irritation to creep into your body language or voice.

If you choose to push back on that individual derailing your flow, you’ll come across as pompous. If you want to prevent things from getting worse, you’ll have to end the conversation.

Rather than fake it till you make it, practice until you make it.

We’re all human with imperfections. Instead of covering your flaws, increase your competencies and create new learning paths. This is the path to career and life fulfillment.

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