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How to Detect a Dumb Who Is Faking Smart

How to Detect a Dumb Who Is Faking Smart

Have you noticed that some people pretend to be busy at work? I’m sure you have, as it’s certainly not uncommon. However, some people practice a bigger deception, namely, they pretend to be much smarter than they really are.

But whether it’s attempting to look busy or look smart, it’s obvious that these people are super-conscious of how others see them.

And while pretending to be something they’re not can work for a time – eventually they’ll be caught out, as the vast majority of people overestimate themselves in the ‘acting skills’ department.

Faking Smart Makes People Look Smarter?

When it comes to faking smart, these pretenders fully believe that their ‘act’ can change the way others see them.

For example, an ambitious office worker might look and sound smart as they’re keen to climb the career ladder. However, as you’ll discover in a moment… appearances can be deceptive!

I’ve thought long and hard about these pretenders, and I’ve come to the realization that they don’t understand that the quality of smartness needs to come from within. It’s not a characteristic that can just be put on a like a jacket or a scarf.

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Clearly, these people are ‘acting’ from a surface level and playing the role of someone who is seen as smart (although that will be their own interpretation of smart).

    Even the Best Actors Have Their Bad Days

    Just think for a moment about a person who you once thought was smart – but later realized was really just an average person with a gift for selling themselves. If you recall some of the conversations you had with them, you’ll remember that they loved to give lots of opinions on things, but could seldom express the reasons for these opinions.

    Simply put, they dominated conversations by talking a lot – but most of what they spoke was nonsense.

    I’ve encountered so many of these people over the years, that I now feel sorry for them when I see them pretending to be something that they’re not. It’s quite sad as they’re emotionally and mentally desperate for others to see them as smart people who know lots of things.

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      How to Spot a Pretender

      I want to share with you now my techniques for spotting mediocre people who are pretending to be smart people.

        The first and primary technique is to ask these people lots of questions. When you do this, you’ll quickly begin to unravel their ‘lines’.

        What I mean by this, is that an average person acting smart will only be able to mimic the surface qualities of a genuinely smart person. Once you start probing the pretender with questions, you’ll immediately begin to find holes in their stories and responses.

        I recommend asking simple questions such as:

        • “Why do you believe that? “
        • “What’s the reason for taking that decision?”
        • “Can you tell me more?”

        When you ask questions like these, an actor will struggle to reply, as they won’t have a genuine back story to call upon.

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        But be careful, if a pretender feels that they’re close to being exposed, they may react with anger and aggression – as this will be their only way left of showing that they still have control and power over things. And even if they’re not aggressive, you can be sure that they’ll argue with you and insist that they’re right.

        To give you a real-life example of this, I remember working with an ‘average Joe’ who talked smart – but was in reality, quite the opposite. One time when we were discussing technical details of a project, I noticed he started using terminology that was not just irrelevant, but was in fact, completely off track.

        When I mentioned this to him, he suddenly became super-defensive and said that he had simply misspoke. However, it didn’t end there. After making his excuses, he abruptly switched the attention from himself to me. He started accusing me of all kinds of things – none of which were true. Luckily, his falsehoods were noticed by others on the project, and it wasn’t long before he was no longer a part of it.

        When you know what to look for, you’ll find it incredibly easy to spot the actors and pretenders. When they are faking smart, they won’t have done their research, and this means that they won’t have the proper perspectives on an issue. This is why asking questions will expose them. When trying to respond, they will fail to explain things properly or convincingly.

        Hollywood provides a good metaphor. For instance, you’ve probably seen actors playing expert lawyers. On screen, they look and sound impressive. However, if you had the opportunity to ask the actor some legal questions (outside the remit of the script) they would almost certainly just look at you blankly. In other words, they only have a surface knowledge. And this knowledge is very limited indeed.

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          Seeing Instantly Through Someone

          It’s vital that you know how to spot people who are faking being smart. If you allow them to fool you, they’ll lead you down a hazardous road littered with bad ideas and bad decisions.

          Clearly, a person faking smart, doesn’t have the genuine knowledge or experience of someone who’s actually smart. And because of this, they’ll always lack the proper perspectives on issues, causing them to make inferior choices.

          Whether they’re your subordinate or your boss, don’t let their pretence negatively impact your work. Either help them to bring out their authentic self – or if they’re unwilling to do this – take steps to distance yourself from their delusions.

          Knowing how to spot a pretender will be a fantastic skill that you can use in all areas of your life. Never again will you be taken in by people who claim to be something they’re not.

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          Brian Lee

          Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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          Last Updated on October 20, 2020

          Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

          Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

          Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

          Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

          The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

          1. Figure out What You Need to Change

          If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

          Look at the repeated problems in your life, the issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process?

          Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job?

          We are creatures of habit, so look at the negative patterns in your life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

          2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

          There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem, such as constant negativity, they lash back with “that’s just who I am.” It may be who you are, but does it need to be?

          Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you? Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

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          Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

          3. List the Benefits of This Change

          In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

          • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
          • Having more time for your family.
          • Getting a promotion
          • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
          • Being part of the success of the company.

          One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits for your life and another for your loved ones. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits, including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

          When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time, then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

          4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

          Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few pounds per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

          It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

          It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[1]

          People can change using SMART goals

            An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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            Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[2]

            These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

            You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

            5. Create a Plan of Attack

            You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be cured and changed. You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective.

            Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change.

            For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

            6. Commit to Action

            It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act, then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change, the key is to act now[3].

            For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs, then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

            If you wait until later that week, you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change.

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            For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal, and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

            7. Find a Support System

            When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups. If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.

            If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue.

            Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change.

            8. Get Uncomfortable

            Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

            If you give up because of the discomfort, then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

            9. Stick to the Plan

            When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

            You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

            Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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            “Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.”

            Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

            Engage in Self-Reflection

            Reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

            Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now, list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example, if you are wanting to lose weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

            If you know that in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down.

            Brainstorm solutions for your past derailments so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

            Define Your Commitment

            Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight, then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1-hour workout every day.

            Then, write those goals down and chart your daily progress. Hold yourself accountable.

            Final Thoughts

            Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

            Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

            More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

            Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

            Reference

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