When “fake it till you make it” goes wrong

When I worked for a large prestigious airline, I was fortunate enough to interact with people from all walks of life. From the uber-rich to the super poor. This is where I learned the right and wrong way to “fake it till you make it”.

Occasionally circumstances present an opportunity to ‘cross barriers’ to the uber-rich side to experience some rare luxuries. The less fortunate usually express gratitude and amusement, but the ones in between who desire wealth but are not quite there yet, seem to pretend that they’re used to this environment. Taking “fake it till you make it” to a whole new level.

“Don’t fake it till you make it, that’s garbage advice. FACE IT till you make it. Get up, work hard, fail, stand back up, face it again. Do a little better, face it again. Do a little better, fail again. Get back up. Repeat”


For example, they’d have their feet up on a console meant for food and drinks, in an attempt to demonstrate how “comfortable” they are. They’ll shoo you away (as if that’s what genuinely wealthy people do), and they refuse to listen to any product and service presentations because they “already know”. When they realize they really don’t have a clue and they now have to face the consequences of not knowing, that’s when the histrionics and unjustified tantrums begin.

This is a prime example of “fake it till you make it” gone wrong. Not only have they displayed abhorrent behavior, but they have also embarrassed themselves, as their behavior is not congruent with the environment.

The traits of the truly wealthy

Wealthy businessman who doesn't have to "fake it till you make it"

Moving up the ranks in the airline my customer profile changed drastically. I was under the false impression that my communication skills were outstanding and this would be a breeze me. Boy was I wrong!

Dealing with true wealth requires a different degree of communication and body language. It requires a higher level of confidence and above-average communication skills. In essence, I had to fake it until I could figure out how to gain the respect of my new customer base.

What I’ve learned from the truly wealthy is that their demeanor seems quite demure. They are respectful and courteous……..until you cross them of course! They do not have to be loud to command respect and authority. It’s all in the way they carry themselves. They do not cuss, they do not yell. Even when they’re telling you off their tone is low, clear, and concise. Basically, their presence alone is luminescent.

They value honesty and authenticity. Their focus is not on their material possessions, as nice as they may be, but on what they do and how well they do it. After all, that is what got them to where they are.

How misinterpretation can make things worse for you

Upset and confused, fake it till you make it did not work

People are not as dense as we think. We have an internal radar that can sense fakeness a mile away. Faking a personality or status can only bring temporary value. However in the long run it will undoubtedly attract judgment from others. This judgment then breeds self-doubt and uncertainty.

Before you know it, you’ll be worse off than you were before, deep in the throes of self-pity with nowhere to turn as your reputation has been tarnished by mistrust and judgment.

Envy and disdain starts to fester over the loss of opportunity and you’re even more confused as before.

People tend to gravitate to authenticity, and evade those that cannot be trusted.

The right way to fake it till you make it

1. Body language

Body language is a severely underrated form of communication. From the way you sit, stand, move, and the motions you make when you speak, all of these movements are subconsciously observed by others. Simply fixing your posture can even make you feel differently about yourself. You will start to feel empowered. Like you are your own boss. You feel ready to take on new opportunities that demonstrate your new-found confidence.

Your body language can change the way people interact with you. It can change the way people perceive you. Your posture alone creates immediate discernment from others.

Body language is something that must be practiced before it is perfected. You cannot learn a new language overnight, and since body language is a form of language, it needs to be treated as such. Practice makes perfect!

Watch this TED Talk by Amy Cuddy about the importance of body language. It may literally change your life.

2. Communication style

Being aware of your communication style can not only lead to you getting what you want in life, but also avoid conflict with others making your life more peaceful and fulfilling. People respect you, take you seriously and respond to you more positively.

Even though the squeaky wheel gets the attention, it doesn’t mean you have to yell at the top of your lungs and cause discomfort to others to get what you want. After all, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar!

Communication styles are as underrated as body language. And yet they can both change your life tremendously.

Watch this video by Rev. Lee Wolak to discover how changing your communication style can change your life.

3. Stop the pretense

Pretending to be something or someone you’re not will inevitably tarnish your chances of gaining the respect of others. No one likes a great pretender and no one enjoys being around someone they cannot trust. You may think this will get your foot in the door, but once you’re in, unless you can keep up the pretense, you’ll be right back out again with a permanent stain on your reputation.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that people will not figure you out. Besides the fact that you will slip up, trust me you will, there are too many resources for people to discover who you really are.

Understanding the difference can make all the difference

Fake it till you make it does not mean tricking people and pretending to be something you’re not. It means working on your demeanor and demonstrating confidence. Learn how to adapt your communication style to your audience and command respect with knowledge and skill, rather than being a belligerent tyrant.

It doesn’t mean that you should pretend to know things you don’t, that will make you look dumb when you’re not. Asking relevant questions and listening carefully will have the opposite effect.

Trying to mold yourself into what you want others to perceive of you will fail every time. Fake it till you make it is the method by which you become opportunistically savvy. Seizing every chance of demonstrating what is authentically you.

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Hayley Carelse

Hi, I'm Hayley Carelse. I am passionate about learning and self-improvement. I'd like to inspire those who are keen to succeed in life and are determined to be their own greatest success story. Make your life, your business.


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