How to Detect an Inauthentic Person
by Linda-Ann Stewart
Recently, I was watching a video podcast interview of a business coach. I was inclined to like him, as his promotional materials indicated that we shared values of being heart-centered, spiritual, and purpose-driven. However, as I watched the podcast, my inner alarms were clanging. I felt something was off between what he claimed to believe and teach, and what I was actually seeing on the podcast.
There was a definite conflict between what he was saying, and how he was acting. He said all the right things, but his unconscious reactions to the discussion and questions were contradictory. They showed that his values were quite different from those he espoused. Because of that, he lost all credibility with me and my interest in pursuing any kind of business relationship with him.
Be Wary of Inauthentic People
Haven’t you ever encountered someone like that? Someone who seems to be in alignment with your values, but it’s just a mask? This can happen in your personal and professional life. You’re drawn to an acquaintance, but they’re always late to coffee or never show up. A business colleague collaborates with you, but you do all the work and they get all the credit.
If you’re not prepared, the inauthentic person can take advantage of you and leave you the poorer for it. They can undermine your self-esteem, self-confidence, self-respect and sabotage your progress in every area of your life. They can also make you doubt yourself and your perceptions.
It’s sometimes difficult to detect the inauthentic person, especially when their reputation sings their praises. Other people have been taken in by their charm. Don’t let them sway your emotions. They’re probably very good at manipulating your feelings for their purposes. Listen to your intuition and don’t get drawn into their self-promotion.
Recognizing an Inauthentic Person
Everyone hides pieces of themselves to be able to deal with their society and culture. For instance, if you’re an artist, you wouldn’t wear bohemian clothes to your job at the bank. Or when your mother-in-law visits and claims her son loves her goulash, but you know he doesn’t. It wouldn’t be good for family harmony for you to tell her the truth.
The difference is a person’s intention. A truly inauthentic person is deliberately insincere and wants to project an entirely different personality to fulfill their agenda. They may need approval, acceptance, control, status, money or power and the only way they think they can gain it is through playing a role.
Here are some behaviors that people have when they are inauthentic and untrustworthy.
They don’t walk their talk. They say one thing and act contrary to what they say. For instance, in the podcast, the coach said he wasn’t trying to sell anything and just wanted to share information. But he constantly pushed his services hard and disparaged anyone who didn’t use them.
They try to impress or intimidate you. There’s a difference between benign self-promotion and boasting that they’re better than anyone else. A person can show how their talents, skills and decisions set them apart without being a braggart. When they keep telling you how great they are, be wary.
They need flattery and attention. Wanting appreciation is normal. Needing constant praise and approval shows a lack of self-confidence. They need external reassurance that they’re accepted.
They treat people like commodities. They consider that people exist only to fulfill their wants and needs. Even though they act like they’re kind and giving, it’s very calculated. There’s always a major payoff for them.
They get defensive and aggressive. When they don’t get what they want, they attack the person who has withheld it. The coach belittled a caller who questioned his process. The coach took it as a personal attack, when the caller just wanted clarification.
Keep your distance when you meet an inauthentic person. If it’s someone in your inner circle, like a relative or coworker, minimize contact as much as possible. Unfortunately, they cannot be trusted with your confidences. When they don’t get what they want from you, they’ll lose interest and find someone else who will fulfill their need.
Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy about someone, pay attention. You’ll notice when something is out of alignment. Let them go, and move on. Because of your new awareness, you’ll start noticing people who are genuine and sincere. These folks are the ones you can trust.
The One Life within me guides and directs me into safe and appropriate relationships. I listen to the still, small voice from within that whispers to me, letting me know who is an authentic person and who is not. I bless all people, no matter who they are. But I choose to spend time and energy with those who are trustworthy, genuine and sincere.