I’ve dealt with a few phonies in my life and you probably have as well. Unless you are equipped to deal with them, they can be frustrating at best, and at worst they can wreak havoc in your life. Phonies can run the gamut of being gossips, liars, backstabbers, fair-weather friends, passive-aggressive, or they can be the person who always has to smile and tell you they “couldn’t be doing better,” when you know that’s not true.
Here are four ways to deal with phonies:
Trust your instinct
Is the new person at work trying too hard to be helpful or friendly because they’re just nervous—or are they just insincere? Did your relative just put you down in a comment disguised as a compliment? What does your gut say?
Two heads are better than one
Share your questions or concerns with someone you trust. If both of you suspect you’re dealing with a phony, you probably are. This isn’t fool-proof, but it’s better than dealing with a possible phony all by yourself and wondering if you’re being too critical and judgmental. Get a second opinion.
Be upfront with them
If you catch someone gossiping about you, revealing information you told them was confidential or if you’re the victim of backstabbing, go to that person and tell them up front you know what they did. Then tell them what your course of action will be if it happens again. If the offense is serious enough, tell them you’re taking action now, then do it.
Limit your interaction
Passive-aggressive people or fair-weather friends have toxic behavior. Stay completely away from them if you can—but if you can’t, limit your exposure to them. Even the person who is sporting that fake smile and telling you how wonderful things are (when you know they’re being a phony) can drain the life out of you. You deserve better–just stay away from them.
Set clear boundaries and enforce them
Phonies do what they do because no one stops them. If you’re worried about offending them, or if you’re concerned about disrupting the relationship, don’t. They’re not sitting around worrying about you or second-guessing themselves. Do what you have to do to protect yourself.