Jun 1, 2022 • 8M

7 Easy Ways to Spot Fake People

When They Look Real (But Aren't)

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Ms. Writer
Ruminations about the things in life that matter.
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Fake people are a lot like fake butter.

They may look authentic on the surface, but a closer inspection reveals that they don't “taste” quite right.

Can you recognize it when you meet them? Knowing what characteristics to look for will prevent headaches and heartaches later. Trust me, I know.

Years ago, when I was young and inexperienced, my perceptions of people were solely based on first impressions. If they dressed and spoke well, I assumed they were trustworthy. I equated a well-rounded vocabulary with wisdom. Expensive clothing meant high class. Much later, I realized that neither belief was necessarily true. There’s a difference between education and intelligence, and wearing Jimmy Choo’s doesn’t mean someone is upper-crust. They may be a heavily in-debt service industry worker trying to look otherwise.

Do you sometimes feel that your own words and actions are less than genuine? Unfortunately, we all say and do things under certain circumstances that aren't entirely honest. (No, your butt doesn't look huge in those leopard print, spandex pants that you love so much.)


But, there's a difference between people who consistently put up a false front or lie and those who do it occasionally for more honorable reasons. The latter often tries to avoid hurt feelings and keep the peace by saying something less than truthful.

The following seven characteristics are common to folks that disguise their true selves. It's not an all-inclusive list but gives you an idea of who we're talking about. You're probably dealing with a straight-up phony person if you regularly notice these traits.

1.) No Self-Reflection 

Authenticity requires knowing who you are on a much deeper level than what is visible to others. This is only achieved through honest self-reflection that addresses the good, the bad, and the ugly. We're all human, and we possess some of each. Being aware of our weaknesses (and our strengths) and acknowledging them keeps us honest. People unable to do this are either constantly stressed out trying to attain perfection or mistakenly believe they've already achieved it. Perfection is an impossible goal that no one reaches; better to consistently look for ways to learn and improve.

2.) No Transparency

Genuine people exude self-confidence and are unashamed of their mistakes. They dare to be sincere about their flaws, making them influential leaders. Fake people tend to be followers who are sensitive to criticism, quickly threatened, and offended. They're determined to convince others of their point of view. This is the marker of their insecure self-concept. When they make a mistake, they'll often try to blame someone or something else. This dishonesty varies depending on how insecure the phony person is.

3.) Ulterior Motives

While it's perfectly normal to have goals and aspirations, fake people are incredibly self-centered. An agenda of gratifying their own needs and desires come before all others. They aren't willing to make sacrifices for the common good unless there's something in it for them as individuals. They are selfish, and the pain they inflict on others is justified in their minds. Authentic people often devote their time and energy to projects that help others without expecting accolades. 

4.) Critical & Judgemental

Even though fake people can't accept their imperfections, they quickly judge others. Their feelings of unwarranted superiority enable them to easily criticize those around them. Honest people realize their faults and know that mistakes are opportunities to learn. They recognize that everyone is human (including themselves) and are willing to grow and help others do the same.

5.) Lacks Empathy

Feeling empathy depends on one's ability to put themselves in another person's situation. The Native Americans described this in their well-known proverb:

Never judge a person until you've walked a mile in their moccasins.

Fake people, whose focus is always on themselves and how a situation relates to them, don't possess this insight. A lack of empathy directly correlates with being judgemental. Genuine people routinely consider how their actions will affect others and make their choices accordingly.

6.) Closed-Minded

Real people are open to different ideas and eager to listen and hear another person’s viewpoint.

Disingenuous folks tend to be set in their ways, which breeds intolerance and ignorance. They prefer to do things the familiar way rather than risk looking less than perfect by learning something new. And there's a distinct difference between listening and hearing. You can listen to someone without ever actually hearing them. But on the other hand, sincere people understand that difference and the value of active listening.

7.) No Listening Skills

Genuine people are interested in the truth even when it hurts. They're willing to consider other viewpoints despite being contradictory to their own. Their goal is to learn and develop in positive ways. Fake people are consumed with keeping up their carefully crafted image. Being vulnerable requires courage and inner strength, which they don't have. They're not interested in hearing any messages opposing their position, which correlates with being closed-minded.

Okay, so maybe you're vegan or have a medical condition that prevents you from enjoying real butter.

However, you'll be a lot healthier if you limit your exposure to cheap imitations when it comes to people. Authentic folks encourage us to be our best selves even when that's not easy. Even when it takes a lot of time and energy and involves personal sacrifice.

My father-in-law had a favorite saying:

It's hard to soar with the eagles when you're flying with the pigeons.

That can apply to different scenarios. In his case, he recited it often to four teenagers, encouraging them to choose their friends wisely.

But, the adage holds the same wisdom for adults: we should surround ourselves with people who have earned our admiration and respect. Overall, we'll be happier, and our chances for growth and success are much greater. 

I have a lot of respect for genuine people. They might not be perfect, but at least they’re not pretending to be. – Anthony Gussiardi

Thanks for stopping by.

If you know someone who could benefit from this article, please share it. There were times in my life when I needed someone to enlighten ME about toxic people and situations. If they had, it might not have taken so many years to reach a point of growth and understanding. If there’s someone in need, we should always reach out…gently.


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