Authenticity is hard to come by these days.
At work, school, and even in the dating world, it’s hard to know who you can really trust – to figure out who’s actually being themselves, and who’s just putting on a show to make you believe they’re something they aren’t.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come across sneaky people who are only looking out for themselves!
But something I’ve learned is that integrity can only be faked to a certain extent.
If you’re dealing with a disingenuous person, there will be cracks in their persona that give them away. These cracks will show in the form of very subtle behaviors…
Like the following:
1) They lie about the little things
Perhaps one of the most obvious non-obvious signs of a disingenuous person is someone who tells little lies.
Of course, someone who tells big lies also isn’t very authentic. But these people are easier to spot than the ones who lie about the little things.
Say you catch them saying that they don’t have Netflix. Then in the next breath, they say they do. If you query it, they pretend that you’re getting them confused with somebody else – that they never said that at all.
Basically, the things they say don’t always add up. Something always feels a little off about their interests, and you’ve even caught them out in a few lies.
2) They throw subtle shade at others
Authentic people are genuine – and genuine people are nice! They see no need to put others down to lift themselves up. Or to win favors from other people.
But people who aren’t authentic won’t do this. They won’t be so obvious as to outrightly criticize someone. They also probably wouldn’t overly judge someone for doing something they want to do.
They will, however, throw subtle shade at people they don’t really like or things they don’t agree with.
I knew someone like this once at work. She acted nice to everyone. But she’d find out things about you, and when the moment struck, she’d raise them out of context to make you look bad.
Like if someone in the team didn’t agree with swimming with the elephants in Thailand, she’d say, “Haven’t you done that?” – knowing that you have and knowing that raising it will cause some sort of argument…
Yeah, that isn’t authentic behavior.
3) They spread gossip behind people’s backs
In my experience, people gossip for one of three reasons. 1) jealousy – i.e., they’re jealous of the person they’re gossiping about. 2) boredom. And 3) sabotage!
Unfortunately, someone who gossips for any of these reasons isn’t an authentic person. Why? Because gossiping isn’t an integral thing to do. It’s usually something people do to sneakily drag others down.
When someone does this behind someone’s back, and they’re nothing but nice to the person they’re gossiping about, this is even more unintegral.
4) They’re only nice to you for personal gain
Say you work with someone who never makes any effort to speak to you. If you try talking to them, they brush you off or just outright ignore you.
Until they see you having lunch with the boss. They didn’t know you were good friends with the boss. Now, out of the blue, they want to be your best friend.
I suppose it’s a bit like what my older brothers used to do. They were nice to me when mom was around. But when she was not, they were not!
If you suspect this person is disingenuous, this isn’t in your head – trust me. It’s just a subtle behavior that’s unveiling their lack of authenticity, and you’re feeling the effects of it.
5) They avoid eye contact when you’re speaking
Imagine you’re talking to someone at work or school. Whenever you’re talking, they don’t really meet your eye. They look behind you, pick at their top, or just avoid your gaze altogether.
These people always set my brain into overthinking mode. Why? Because there’s just something off about someone who doesn’t want to meet my eye!
Experts say that people who avoid eye contact aren’t necessarily lying (although they might be). They’re usually just uninterested in what you’re saying (or you).
If this person is otherwise very intelligent, they might even be doing it on purpose to make you feel uncomfortable. Or to make themselves seem more “superior” to you.
Either way, a lack of eye contact isn’t a sign of someone who’s genuinely interested in a conversation with you.
6) They change their mind depending on who they’re with
I always find these people a struggle. When you’re talking with one group, they have one set of views. When you’re with another group, their views are entirely different.
The only reason you notice it is because a) you’re observant and b) you spend a lot of time with this person.
When someone is truly authentic, they have a set of beliefs and opinions and they stick to them. They don’t intentionally disagree with people. But they’re happy to be themselves, and they let people like or dislike them based on who they really are.
But someone who isn’t authentic won’t do this. They’ll change their mind to suit the crowd they’re with. And they’ll most likely do it to win favor from the majority, rather than quality.
7) They don’t smile with their eyes
I love a genuine smile! When you see someone and their smile smothers their entire face, lighting up their eyes and making them go all squinty, I just love it! It makes me feel like this person is genuinely happy to see me.
If you believe in the power of the Duchenne smile, you probably feel the same way.
Which is probably why you feel like there’s something off about people who don’t smile with their eyes…
Experts say that people who don’t smile with their eyes are probably faking it. And I know, we all fake smiles from time to time. Like when our boss cracks a joke or when we’re breaking the ice with someone new.
But when someone gives these smiles all the time, they might not be as genuine as you think they are.
8) They change the subject whenever you bring up certain things
A former FBI agent did a piece once about how to spot a dishonest person. Can you guess what was at the top of their list? Changing the subject whenever a certain thing is brought up.
Whenever I’ve encountered people who do this, I’ve found that they change the subject for one of two reasons.
The first is that they think they’re “too good” to answer my question.
Like when I asked a manager a very valid question about the status of a project. They felt like they didn’t have to answer to “lowly” me, and so they changed the subject whenever I brought it up.
The second reason is way less sinister, but still not good, in my opinion. They’ll avoid the question because they don’t know the answer, and they don’t want to admit that for fear of looking bad.
While this really isn’t the most terrible thing someone can do, it still isn’t very authentic.
Why? Because a genuine person would answer honestly, regardless of how the answer makes them “look”.
9) They’re never vulnerable or show any emotion
The definition of an authentic person is someone who’s true to themselves. They are who they are, and they own (most of) their emotions.
If they’re sad about something, they’ll say they are. If they’re worried about something, they’ll say that, too. Basically, they’ll show emotion and they’ll let their vulnerable side out sometimes.
Now I know there’s a time and place for showing your emotions. At work, you are semi-expected to get on with things and not share too much of your life story.
But if a friend, partner, colleague, or someone you’re dating never lets their emotions show, or never answers questions with a bit of vulnerability, it’s a bit suspicious.
These people might just have a huge wall up that takes time to come down. Or they might be hiding something, and they aren’t a very authentic person…
If you’re wondering what’s so good about authenticity in a person anyway, here’s what.
Experts say that authentic people are trustworthy people. They’re loyal, integral, and inspiring – and as humans, we tend to be drawn to them.
So even though some of these behaviors aren’t really that bad, they aren’t that good either.
Plus, being around a truly authentic person is way better than dealing with someone who only lets you see what they want you to see.
So if you know someone like this, I’m not saying you should cut them out of your life – or even that they’re that toxic!
But maybe you should keep one eye open when you’re around them, and just be mindful that the things they say might not always be what they really mean…
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