Toxic People

9 Telltale Signs You're Dealing With an Inauthentic Person

There is no skill more important to success than being able to detect who is sincere and who isn't.
9 Telltale Signs You're Dealing With an Inauthentic Person
Image credit: Klaus Vedfelt | Getty Images
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Author of A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success
8 min read
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Authentic people are self-aware. They avoid blaming others for their own mistakes and accept their strengths and weaknesses. They show vulnerability, opening themselves up to others and connecting with people on a deep level.

Inauthentic people are quite the opposite.

Simply put, inauthentic people are fake. Sometimes people start taking on inauthentic characteristics because they feel pressured to be what they’re not, or they believe it will help them increase their chances of being successful. We all know that appearances are important. But inauthentic people have lost their way, and their phoniness is toxic to themselves and those around them. 

To help you tell the difference between someone who is genuine and some who is faking it, here are 9 telltale characteristics of inauthentic people.

Related: 10 Behaviors of Genuine People

1. Are generally full of themselves.

Inauthentic people like to show off. They have high opinions of themselves and they want to make sure everyone around them sees how great they are. They view others as being beneath them. They are often the peacock of their group, the one who is strutting and bragging, and who can’t stand it when others show them up. They have wrapped themselves in a bogus façade and they even start to believe their own lies.

Under their carefully curated exterior, however, they may be struggling with low self-esteem. They use their bloated ego and vanity to cover up their inadequacies, and don’t dare look too deeply within themselves. An inauthentic person is seeking to hide their flaws and build themselves up. They don’t like people to question them for fear they will discover the truth. True humility comes when you know and accept yourself, flaws and all.

Related: 5 Horrible Traits That Push People Away

2. Are manipulative and judgmental.

Inauthentic people can be highly judgmental of others, often as a way of gaining control. An inauthentic person will constantly be trying to gain the upper hand or win the validation of others by manipulating those around them. But at the same time, they are unlikely to address any problems head on. Instead, they are looking for ways to make themselves appear more important.

Their energy is focused on building themselves up and tearing others down. This is why they are adept at being passive aggressive and giving backhanded compliments. If they feel threatened or ignored, they will do whatever it takes to move the spotlight back on themselves or deflect any negative outcomes they might encounter.

Related: 9 Signs You're Dealing With an Emotional Manipulator

3. Don’t express their emotions freely and clearly.

Inauthentic people don’t know how to cope with their emotions, so they are often aggressive with others as a way to cover up their own feelings.

Because inauthentic people don’t understand what it means to be true to themselves, they end up running away from who they really are. They are incapable of expressing how they truly feel because they have cut themselves off from their deeper emotions, probably because they fear what they might find there.

Perhaps they believe that in order to get the things they want, they have to be willing to lie, cheat and bend the rules. This also explains why fake people are often two-faced, showing friends one side of themselves and then talking about them behind their backs. But seldom would they say those truths to a friend’s face, preferring instead to maintain the appearance of being nice to everyone.

Related: Ever Notice the Similarities Between Toxic Business Leaders and Politicians?

4. Aren’t interested in learning from their mistakes.

Inauthentic people are focused on making themselves look good. They aren’t too worried about the actual quality of their character or trying to better themselves or become more trustworthy.

They’re also liable to hold grudges against others, as forgiveness would mean having the humility to see that no one is perfect. In their mind, they are perfect, and everyone else falls short.

This is why inauthentic people aren’t able to learn from their own mistakes. They have a hard time owning up to any failure or missteps. They will blame others or make excuses; it will always be someone else’s fault that they failed. They will never truly learn the important lessons associated with making mistakes and this will hold them back from true success.

Related: 12 Ways Successful People Handle Toxic People

5. Have unrealistic perceptions.

This is one of the biggest reasons why fake people are so toxic: they are often wrapped up in materialism because, in their world, the “stuff” that fills their life is the true reflection of how successful they are.

They are usually more interested in collecting “things” they can brag about than working to develop lasting and meaningful relationships. Having a deep connection or friendship with others would require that they are also in touch with their thoughts and feelings.

Because they keep things at a surface level, they also have a limited view of the world. They focus on money and wealth. They focus on what others can do for them. Because they see things through this distorted lens, they make decisions and build their life based on flawed perceptions.

Related: To Be Successful Stay Far Away From These 7 Types of Toxic People

6. Are attention getters and people pleasers.

Inauthentic people have a need to make everyone like them, or at least notice them. Above all, they can’t stand to be ignored. They are willing to do and say almost anything in their pursuit of approval, confirmation or affection from others.

They may come off as needy at times, and they may have an annoying habit of constantly changing or retroactively tweaking what they said for fear that someone will take what they said the wrong way.

Yet any kindness or hospitality that they show others is an act, and is likely designed to manipulate others in a broader scheme they believe will give them a leg up in some way. Inauthentic people don’t understand the point of selfless benevolence or philanthropy.

Related: 10 Ways People Pleasers Suck Up That Always Backfire

7. Have a hostile sense of humor.

Under that fake smile, an inauthentic person is storing up resentment and anger at those around them. They see the world through a cynical lens because they don’t trust anyone. Their default button is set to sarcasm and they use mockery as a way of bolstering their self-esteem. They find it easier to put others down through a harsh quip or a sarcastic wisecrack rather than employ self-deprecating humor.

This hostile sense of humor may make them seem clever or shrewd, but in reality it is masking their insecurity and anxiety. The zingers and one-liners thrown by an inauthentic person are really a diversion: they don’t want anyone to look to closely at their own flaws.

Related: 9 Tips to Help You Co-exist Peacefully With Difficult People

8. Lack consistency.

One of the hallmarks of an inauthentic person is a lack of core values and the inability to stay on track and remain focused. They are often bouncing from one thing to the next, never really giving their all to any one project, spreading themselves too thin by trying to do everything and be everywhere.

They miss deadlines and make excuses or blame others, but really it comes down to a lack of consistency on their part. All of this inconsistency leaves a big mess in their wake as they don’t really know what they stand for. They are constantly letting themselves get bogged down in minutiae as they try to micromanage everything without recognizing what the larger goals are.

Related: How Establishing Core Values Drives Success

9. Insulate themselves in their own clique.

Inauthentic people often take advantage of a situation through mob mentality. They look for ways of influencing their peers through the use of emotion, rather than using logic or intellectual rationales. They are happy to whip others into a fury over something, especially if it somehow benefits them. They are likely trying to maneuver themselves into a position of greater authority or control.

Fake people often insulate themselves within a clique. These cliques often put social pressure on others to conform to their ideas, which serves to reinforce their preconceived notions. This is because inauthentic people aren’t open-minded and don’t want others to question their motives or ideals.

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