Work Relationships

Fake it till you make it: Phrases confident people DON’T use

Written by Eric Titner

There are a ton of phrases thrown around the work world, many of which are meant to motivate folks to focus on their strengths over any perceived shortcomings and avoid letting any adversity stop them from making forward progress on their journey to success.

Sure, we’re all guilty of relying on these sorts of messages and sharing them with friends, family, and colleagues from time to time, and they’re almost always well-intentioned—but are they really the best tools for building lasting confidence in our abilities and preparing us for any and all challenges that come our way? Let’s dive in and take a closer look.

The phrase in the title is a great example. Who among us hasn’t either been told to “fake it till you make it” or told someone else to do so, often in response to a new and daunting job or project that we’re facing that fills us with anxiety? Sure, the deliverer of this message means well—they want the recipient to “pretend” to have the requisite skills and courage to face the issue until they actually have them.

This may or may not help someone achieve success in the face of struggle, but beneath the surface, it implies that the individual is inherently lacking in some key area and that they need to “fake” having the ability or mindset in order to get there. Does such a notion really help someone evolve and grow over the long haul? Perhaps not, which is why folks who actually possess the confidence to face anything that comes their way rarely use or listen to such saccharine platitudes.

Let’s take a look at a few other phrases that confident people don’t use. Perhaps seeing them written out will give you pause and a moment of deeper reflection the next time you hear or think about using one.

“Hopefully things will work out”

This popular phrase is perhaps the ultimate passive notion. It practically screams out that you’re in the passenger seat to larger forces that are driving the situation and that luck or fate will determine the outcome—not your ability or skill. Sure, hearing this may make you feel slightly better during a tense or anxious moment, but does it really inspire a person to believe in their innate ability to control the results of a situation? Not likely, which is why truly confident people, who genuinely believe in themselves and their ability to control what happens to and around them, don’t need to use it.

“My hands are tied”

Talk about a vote of insecurity at a moment when you should be radiating and inspiring confidence! This well-worn phrase is an example of the sort of work-world hyperbole that should be tossed into the dustbin of history. It basically says that you lack the ability to control the results of a situation, and even if you want to alter things you simply don’t have whatever it takes—either the skill, will, or weight—to do so. Simply put, this isn’t the sort of phrase that makes others think you’re a “can-do” change agent who can take charge of any given situation, and using it won’t help you believe in your own abilities any further.

“I can’t”

Do you want to send a signal to the world around you, and also remind yourself, that you don’t have the ability to do something? Probably not—but you’re doing just that every time you say, “I can’t.” It’s such an overused phrase that it barely gets noticed, but the truth is that saying “I can’t” is a tiny blow to your confidence and perceived sense of ability and control every time you use it. And, to put it bluntly, for every person who says “I can’t,” there’ll be another person who says “I can.” And who do you think others are going to believe in more to navigate a situation to a successful outcome?

Do you want to tell the world that you have the confidence to achieve success in any given situation—regardless of the challenge? Then consider avoiding relying on the phrases mentioned here to strengthen your personal brand and take control of how the world perceives you.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.