Am I a liar and a hypocrite for being positive here? A person recently left a comment saying this about my staying positive with my tribe: “…by definition, this makes you (not to be mean, but clear) a liar and a hypocrite.”

5 Types of Fake People
Often the only way to rewire your brain is to be a fake. (Tweet That) | Share this Graphic on Pinterest | Share on Facebook

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Ouch. So what did I do in response? Well…we will get to that later. But initially I questioned my own logic. Was I wrong for staying positive? Was I being a liar and a hypocrite?
I wrote in that post how my natural inclination is towards the negative. This surprises a lot of people who know me fairly well, but not intimately, as I wrote:

That shocks a lot of people not named my wife, my mom, my best friend, my mentor, or anyone who has never worked for me. Most people see me as a generally positive and upbeat person. But the reality is that, most of the time there is a war raging inside of me. One voice screams at me reminding of everything going wrong in my life and the world. The positive voice whispers softly. I tend to hear the louder voice too easily.

So why do I remain positive when I write? Why am I a fake?
Because I am stereotyping myself. I quoted from an essay by S. Alexander Haslam, Jessica Salvatore, Thomas Kessler and Stephen D. Reicher entitled How stereotyping yourself contributes to your success (or failure)You can download the entire essay for free here.

…stereotypes can promote failure but that they can also lift a person’s or group’s performance and be tools that promote social progress…In short, who we think we are determines both how we perform and what we are able to become.

In short, I am rewiring myself and others around me.
The comment calling me a liar and hypocrite went on to say:

…when people aren’t being real and true, eventually others tend to notice, and you lose authenticity. Why would I trust an always-up person? We know that they are hiding things, not being honest, not trustworthy. Maybe putting on a mask helps short term, but at too great a cost to authenticity and personal integrity.
Finally, think of all the lost opportunities. When you are real, you can honestly connect with people … and that happens in the negatives. People know then that you understand them, and them you. Trust develops in this process, a trust that being fake with a mask cannot gain.

I fully agree, but to a limit.
I wrote back:

I get what you are saying. Authenticity (buzz word alert) is missing in today’s world, but it’s not about being a liar. It’s about being a better version of myself.
Sure, I could get on here and rant and whine about my crappy commute this morning, but what good does that do? Does that make me better? Or you?
I think of it this way…let’s say Joe is fat. Obese even. 6 feet tall and 400 lbs.
Should he act obese or act thin? Should he talk obesity or talk thinness? Should he do what obese people do or what thin people do?
Is he being fake or just a better version of himself? The version that lives longer and happier, not the one that dies at 43 depressed and failing to have accomplished his dreams.
A mask? No. A better version of me? Absolutely.

Sometimes, you truly have to fake it. You have to fake your thinking. That is the only way to rewire your brain.
Psychologists use this technique all the time to help people overcome childhood traumas such as verbal, physical or sexual abuse. Are they denying reality? No. Are they reaffirming, declaring, and acting out their self-worth even when they don’t feel it inside? You bet.
It’s not a magic cure. It takes time. But it does work.
There are five types of fake people. And there is nothing wrong with being fake in some areas of your life out of necessity. Which one of these best describes you?

5 types of fake people


1. The Overcomer

This is someone, such as I mentioned above, who is faking their way to overcoming something. I am not a psychologist, nor do I claim to be, but I’ve been through enough counseling to know this is commonly encouraged.
Removing the label of “worthless childhood rape victim” takes time. But over time, the Overcomer can project self-worth from the outside in. It might seem fake, but it works.
This is a positive form of faking.

2. The Better Version of Me

This is what I used when I was learning to not suck as a leader.
I smiled when I didn’t feel like smiling, because…well, I rarely smiled. And smiling made me a better leader. Not to mention it made me feel better.
I didn’t mask anything. I just didn’t display a scowl for all the world to see. I hid my annoyance at interruptions and treated people like they should be treated. And slowly, it became more of my default.
I am still working on this today…nearly eight years after I started. Just ask my wife.
This is a positive form of faking.

3. The Protector

Some faking is a survival mechanism.
There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but it’s often a sign of inner turmoil and broken relationships, even abuse.
The wife who fakes a good home life when her husband is beating her is a negative form of this type of faking. What she really needs is empathy and help, not people jealous at how perfect her life is.
The parents who fake their way through a job loss to not overly stress their young kids is understandable. I honestly don’t know if I can label it positive or negative.
This is an ambiguous one, but generally done with positive intent due to negative, and often serious, reasons.

4. Afraid of Who I Really Am

Similar to the Protector, but usually for more selfish reasons.
This is the type of lying and hiding that the comment was referring to. This is the mask-wearer.
The type of person who would never admit that I’ve been arrested or that I sucked as a leader. This is the type of person who pretends his life is perfect.
This type of faking is always negative and always has consequences.

5. The Peacekeeper

The Peacekeeper sometimes fakes it to keep the peace. When two business partners are arguing over something petty, the Peacekeeper will often help find a middle ground even though he feels one partner is right. That is faking it.
The Peacekeeper compliments the chef, even if the chicken is dry and the rice is crunchy.
This is a positive form of faking.
I appreciated the comment that was left. It was left anonymously, but I reached out to him and thanked him. It turns out his name is Carl and he replied back:

Well, it is hard to write posts that challenge an idea without sounding like an angry jerk … part of the limitations inherent in written communications.   I am glad it was taken well!  Have a blessed day.

Thanks, Carl, for making me think. And for inspiring this post.
Which type of faker best describes you?

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20 thoughts on “5 Types of Fake People – Which One Are You?

  1. Heidi Bender says:

    The title made me think of people giving fake help at my workplace. Fake help is when they tell someone how to do something only their advice ends up being either wrong, a misleading time waster, or just not helpful as they didn’t know the answer themselves but still gave advice. the person giving the help does not realize it is “fake” help at the time. It is not intentional. It just happens sometimes (usually when the person asking for help didn’t explain their goal well enough).

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Guilty. I’ve done that in the past in order to appear helpful and/or intelligent. I finally learned those magic leadership words in 2010 – “I don’t know. Let’s figure it out together.”

  2. Gavin Halse says:

    Great post which made me think deeply about faking in general. Society responds positively (in my experience) to people who are transparent about their situation, provided this is not a form of manipulation. When positive “faking” is a deliberate personal strategy to overcome a weakness, or past trauma it can be very powerful indeed. But to be authentic the “faker” (is that a real word) needs to open and at least confide to close friends about why they are behaving in that way. I think of some role models in society that have overcome extreme trauma such as rape or murder experiences and who are deeply injured; but who come out with a positive determination to not let the negative damage them for the rest of their lives – these people come across as authentic and transparent and balanced, and yes they do fake their positive outlook often. Others fake to hide or supress their pain without the necessary self awareness and without having support systems (people to talk to) in place – therein lies a danger, I believe. Thanks for making me think today!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Faker is a real word. I looked it up 🙂
      This is a well thought out comment Gavin. Ultimately, it’s not about faking it to impress or to hide, but to rewire our brains. That is the positive result.

  3. WOW! not sure my brain is ready to grasp this first thing, lucky I took your advice and did get 2 hours rest yesterday. I identify with both, The Better Version of Me and The Peace Maker. As a follower of Christ I have to look at all 5 and ask that God will help me to focus on the areas in my life where I can improve. Matt Thank You for continuing to help me grow!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is awesome about the rest yesterday. I hurt my hip badly on Saturday so I didn’t have a choice yesterday. Parked myself on the couch after lunch and didn’t move for almost three hours 🙂

  4. Sorry to hear about the hip injury, hope you get back to 100% soon.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      It’s on it’s way already. It was a aggravation of an existing injury but I am glad it happened because it forced me to do something about it. Two painful massages and stretching and exercise and it’s already 50% better.

  5. Joe Lalonde says:

    I find myself as a number 5.

  6. Zechariah Newman says:

    Honestly it was number 4 until a couple years ago. I would say number 2 now. Great post Matt.

  7. Stephanie Robbins says:

    Great post. I am a naturally positive and optimistic person. I was not always but some how morphed into this.
    Some times I have to fake the other way. For instance, I was consoling a friend going through a tough time. Not appropriate to be Ms Sunshine here. Instead I stayed neutral and present with her. Not overtly positive or negative. There will be another day when I can tell her the things I am happy about 🙂
    Overall I would say I am a #1 and #2.
    Thank you for the thought provoking post!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Total opposite of me haha! But you are right, even when you are bursting with joy on the inside, you might have to at least hide it sometimes.

  8. Wan Muhammad Zulfikri Bin Wan says:

    I have The Peacekeeper tendencies. I can’t stand people arguing.
    Good to hear that you handled the criticism well, Matt.

  9. I think we all fall into these categories at some point or another. Just depends on the situation.
    As for criticism, it’s easy for our words to be misconstrued or taken out of context on a blog or a blog comment. I know it’s happened to me. I answered something quickly and thought I’d made my point only to realize someone took it wrong. It’s nice when that can be rectified but it doesn’t always happen.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I’ve done that a few times myself so don’t feel bad 🙂

  10. Jana Botkin says:

    Is it fake to be polite? I’d call that a #2.
    I have learned to be positive in spite of naturally negative leanings. It came from my closest friend, who learned it from her mom. She always taught that there is something worthwhile and good in every person; sometimes you really have to look hard for it, but keep looking until you find it.

  11. LadyMcKermit says:

    Matt, this is a great post! Faking it till you make it springs to mind.. but even better, faking it till you become it. Rewiring your brain is an important step in living the life you want when the negative messages that run on a loop in your head need to be overwritten by a new program. This is a brave and thoughtful post, thank you for writing it.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Fake it until you become it…love that!

  12. Frank Bria says:

    Matt, so awesome. I really needed to read this today.
    So often, those of us who are entrepreneurs and in the public eye have a bit self-criticism when things don’t go right. We feel like we can’t level with “the public” because we have to be supporting others – our clients, our audience – and probably most importantly, our prospective clients.
    I do think you’ve hit the nail on the head about re-writing the brain. I like what you said and I see a lot of personal improvement I can make there.
    But on the flip side, acknowledging that things can be tough (like you do in this post) is helpful to everyone – including our audiences, who are actually motivated by the idea that even we have bad days…or even months.
    We should compare notes sometime.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Well said Frank!
      Let’s do connect…emailing you now 🙂

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