Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on February 27, 2018

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.

Advertising

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.

    Advertising

      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.

        Advertising

        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.

        Advertising

          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.

          More by this author

          Brian Lee

          Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

          100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

          Trending in Social Animal

          1 What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships 2 What You Really Need to Feel Secure in a Relationship 3 The Art of Building Relationships You Need to Succeed in Your Career 4 How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way 5 Dealing With Anxious Attachment: Advice from a Relationship Therapist

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on January 6, 2019

          Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

          Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

          No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

          People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

          But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

          If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

          Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

          Advertising

          Pain Is Our Guardian

          Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

          In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

          Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

          While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

          Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

          Advertising

          No Pain, No Happiness

          You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

          In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

          In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

          This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

          Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

          Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

          Advertising

          This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

          Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

          Allow Room for the Inevitable

          Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

          Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

          “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

          Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

          The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

          While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

          Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

          Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

          To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

          Advertising

          You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

          Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

          Reference

          [1]University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
          [2]Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

          Read Next