I know what you’re thinking. “Huh? What? You can’t be serious!” But hear me out.
When she would see someone wearing a fashion accessory she didn’t like (or in her words was “fricken' ugly”), she would approach with a pretty little smile plastered on her face and say “OMG, I love your skirt. Where did you get it?” While her motive may not have been as pure as the glimmering display of pearly-white teeth, her peers would never have known the difference. In fact, if you recall, most beamed a smile right back at her and walked away gushing that the most popular girl in school just paid her a compliment. That’s because unless you truly knew what Regina George was thinking, you appreciated those rare moments of kindness she showed.
The question then becomes, is there ever a time when it serves to be “fake”?
Obviously, living aligned with the truth is important and admirable. It’s important to be strong and confident in who you are and the values you stand for (so you don’t become a Regina George). However, biting your tongue and stepping back in certain situations to be poised, kind, and courteous is sometimes just as important as boldly stating your opinion. It says you’re secure enough to have self-control and empowered enough to not have to dominate over other people to make yourself feel powerful.
This isn’t to say you should neglect your boundaries, standards, or expectations. Certainly not. It’s about blending your immediate urges and your kindness to find a more pleasant (and productive) solution for all involved. For it’s been proven through the “generalized reciprocity” phenomenon that individuals will treat others the same way others treat them…the cycle never ends.
Here are 10 examples of situations where being “fake” maybe isn’t such a bad idea after all.
1. Your Co-Worker Dropped the Ball Again
How many times has that same co-worker once again forgotten what you asked for, and you just want to scream “DO I REALLY HAVE TO TELL YOU AGAIN!?” but instead you respond calmly with a reminder? Because what would screaming at your co-worker really solve? For one, it would have made him or her more panicked (which would probably cause them to forget more things). It would create a domino effect of negativity and unease with those who are nearby. And it would certainly position you as anything but a leader.
Biting your tongue is sometimes just as important as boldly stating your opinion.
So, who wins here? If your co-worker is making it a habit to be forgetful and it’s irritating you, take a minute to meet with them and set up a system that will be more effective. Or bring matters to your boss so you can all get on the same page. This is about controlling your urges to do what will serve the situation best and, more importantly, exude kindness.
2. Your Mother-In-Law Is Being Overbearing
“Have you changed so and so’s diaper?” “Oh, you didn’t pick up that new brand of detergent I mentioned?” “I liked it better when you had the room painted pink.”
Whatever the nit-picky judgmental comment of the day is, we have all encountered the overbearing mother-in-law (or similar family member) who thinks she knows best. It seems like you just can’t do anything right.
So, what’s the solution? The impulse is to snap back at her – attack something you don’t like. Or pull some JLo moves from the movie Monster In Law. But let’s ask that ever important question again: what will that really serve? What’s your end goal? Play it out in your head before you react. Snapping at your mother-in-law may give you a passing moment of satisfaction before that pit in your stomach devours it, right?
Instead, be polite. You know she’s overbearing in most cases only because she cares so much about you and your family…she just has a funny way of showing it sometimes. Thank her for her feedback, but be firm about your boundaries. Calmly state what irritated you and work together on tightening up that boundary moving forward. Remember, you can’t heal what you don’t address!
3. Your Friend Asks If You Like Her New Haircut, but You Don’t
Imagine if you got a new haircut that you really loved just to show your best friend and her immediate response was “Ew, omg, why would you do that?!” My guess is you would be devastated and then probably spend months feeling insecure about it (even though you would plead otherwise). This is a situation where your thoughts can really just be kept to yourself. Again, is your friend’s new haircut harming you in any way? Is she asking you to wear it? No, of course not. In friendship, as in any relationship, there is a fine line between honesty and cruelty.
If it's just not your style, there's nothing wrong with saying a neutral, "It's definitely different from your normal style!" and leave it at that. But if you think your friend made a huge mistake or got ripped off by a bad hairdresser, try to find the most considerate way of presenting your opinion. Start by asking her what prompted the drastic change, and if you sense any regret from her, kindly offer some sage advice. Maybe even share your own hair horror story (we all have one) and tell her what you did when it happened. A little self-deprecation can go a long way.
4. Someone Cuts You Off in Traffic
HONK! Middle fingers up! This is how most want to instantly react when rush hour dawns. Why do we get so angry? Probably because our safety feels threatened and our adrenaline rushes as a result. We then automatically assume (key word assume) that the other person is intentionally trying to harm us. However, we don’t really know what caused them to cut us off. I know I’ve personally been one to cut someone off unintentionally because of blind spots or just plain not paying attention. Reacting in these situations only escalates. Road rage is a serious thing that leads to a lot of violence and less than ideal cases. So if someone cuts you off, deescalate the situation. Give them the benefit of the doubt, take a deep breath, and stay in your lane (literally!).
Give them the benefit of the doubt, take a deep breath, and stay in your lane.
5. The Barista Messed Up Your Coffee Order
It’s Friday, so you go to Starbucks to treat yourself to your favorite $7 latte to start your weekend off on a high-vibe note… Just to receive your order and discover it’s wrong! Ugh. Being under-caffeinated and now irritated may usher in the urge to yell at the barista or throw in degrading comments. Yet, that doesn’t change your coffee order, does it?
Instead, scan the scene. You can most likely see they’re insanely busy, understaffed, ill-supplied, and doing their best to keep up with the demand. Rather than humiliate the barista for her shortcoming, kindly mention that you ordered XYZ and request another. Having been a barista before, trust me, we prefer this to a tantrum or a negative Yelp review. We truly want to serve you a cup full of bliss you’re satisfied with. Personally, I always appreciated when customers were understanding (in fact, I would prioritize them in the future and maybe add a little something special when I could due to their kindness). It pays more than you think! In fact, this coffee house owner actually started modifying his prices based on kindness.
6. Your Hairstylist Double-Booked Your Appointment
You’ve been looking forward to this hair transformation appointment for months now. You eagerly enter the salon with your Pinterest board in hand but see your hairdresser looking distressed and with another client. She looks confused. She comes over and searches her calendar to see she’s accidentally double-booked your time slot. It’s inconvenient and feels like your time has been disrespected. Chances are you probably had to rearrange your day to make the scheduled appointment work.
Your reaction could be to lose your cool and demand that she make it happen, since it was her fault after all. However, reacting this way could come with more consequences than benefits. She may choose to not serve you again and definitely not try to pull strings to get you a desired outcome. In this case, resisting the impulse to attack and instead get solution-oriented will provide a more pleasant outcome.
7. Your Boss Didn’t Acknowledge Your Efforts
You and a team of colleagues were assigned to a big project. You put in just as much effort, if not more, to make it a grand success. When you attend the next team meeting, your boss is over the moon thrilled with the results and personally hands out compliments to your group...but forgets you.
Maintaining your poise and politeness shows you’re secure enough to have self-control.
Your immediate reaction could be to think “That’s it, my boss hates me. What a jerk! I’ll tell him off and quit tomorrow!” The long-term result of that would be you’re out of a job and now won’t receive a raving review to support your job search. On the other hand, you could avoid assuming the worst. You do deserve to receive the praise you earned, so stand your ground but in a loving way. Approach your boss privately after the meeting and address your concern. More than likely, it was an oversight – and you may even receive more praise than you expected for handling the situation with grace.
8. Someone Trolled You on Social Media
In this digital age, it’s so easy for people to hide behind their screens and generate drama from their phones (hello, comments section!). You’ve probably been guilty of the midnight scroll watching complete strangers on the internet battle it out over a post. But have you noticed it never accomplishes anything? The conversation becomes a bunch of noise, no one changes their mind, it turns into a giant waste of time and energy for everybody, all which probably results in blocking each other. If you see someone write something passive aggressive on your post, resist the temptation to lower your character and match that level. We all know hurt people hurt people. It’s best to have compassion, not engage, and just delete the comment and move on. No time for drama.
9. Your Husband Takes Up a New Hobby That You Hate
Your husband tells you that he’s so excited that he and the boys are planning fantasy football hangouts every Tuesday night. Next thing you know, it’s all he’s talking about. You’re annoyed he seems to be paying more attention to some fake football team than to you and your relationship. You probably want to express how stupid you think it is and demand he stop participating…which will result in a rebellion most likely, come across like you’re not supportive of him, and then become an unnecessary fight about…fantasy football (I hope you're laughing here because most fights are really this silly when we step back and look at them).
Have a mature conversation and come to a compromise.
But the real truth here is you desire to have that romance back and he desires to have this outlet of fun. So have a mature conversation and compromise. Use Tuesday night to get together with your girls or have a pampering night in so you’re not resenting his new hobby. Then make sure you plan date nights together each week so you continue to connect (where he agrees to power down the fantasy football app). Win-win.
10. Your Client Missed Another Payment
Your client missed this month’s payment. Your assumption could be that they don’t respect you, your work, or your time. You may want to reach out with a long email about how you feel disrespected and don’t appreciate this treatment after all the hard work you’ve done to accommodate them, etc. But is that how you want to be perceived as a business owner? Instead of jumping right into a long-winded tangent, schedule a call to talk. You rightfully deserve to be compensated for your work. On this call, instead of accusing, ask questions. Do you need to set up payment plans? Is this customer the right fit for your company? Did they just plain forget because time got away from them? Asking questions will always lead to answers. Clarity is key.
To reiterate, this isn’t about “grinning and bearing it” to the point you’re miserable. This is about prioritizing kindness and being polite. Self-control is sexy. Emotional reactions have a ripple effect. What you project on another person becomes a trail of similar reactions, which is why it’s so important to lead with love. And there are always ways you can do that in which you’re still feeling validated while simultaneously empowering others. Because the truth is, if everyone was the exception and gets to act however they please, then there is no order…and that does a lot more harm than good.
The question to always ask yourself before reacting in any scenario is “What will this serve?” More often than not, you can find a gentler way to approach the situation to find a solution. And it all starts with “faking it” to figure it out.
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