10 ways to deal with fake colleagues at work

You cannot always ignore fake colleagues, as you may have to work together. Here are some tips to deal with fake people at work.
Fake colleague
Learn how to deal with fake colleagues. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Shruti Bhattacharya Updated: 26 Jun 2024, 02:59 pm IST
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Does a coworker or colleague act super friendly in person, but criticise you behind your back? While many people are cooperative and friendly, some may be fake and insincere. Being around fake people at work can be draining and frustrating. However, to be healthy and happy, you must be surrounded by genuine people rather than those who pretend to care for you. There are signs that help in identifying fake people at work. Once you spot them, you must take steps to deal with them. After all, you have to work with them every day and you can’t be stressed all the time. Here are some ways to deal with fake people at work.

How to identify fake people at work?

Here are some ways to identify fake colleagues at work:

1. Inconsistent behaviour

Fake people often exhibit inconsistent behaviour. They may act friendly one moment and then cold or indifferent the next. “Watch out for abrupt shifts in their demeanour, especially towards different individuals or in varying situations,” says psychiatrist and psychotherapist Dr Jyoti Kapoor.

Fake colleagues
Fake people often exhibit inconsistent behaviour. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

2. Give too many compliments

While compliments and praise are common in professional settings, fake people tend to overdo it. They may shower you with excessive flattery, often in an insincere or superficial manner. Pay attention to whether their compliments seem genuine or are merely a means to gain favour.

3. Lack of empathy

Empathy is a key trait in genuine relationships, including those in the workplace. Fake people may lack empathy and show little concern for other people’s feelings or struggles. “They might dismiss your concerns or fail to offer support when you need it most,” says the expert.

4. Criticises you behind your back

Watch out for colleagues who frequently engage in gossip or speak negatively about others behind their backs. Fake people may spread rumours or undermine coworkers to advance their agendas. If someone consistently participates in such behaviour, it is a red flag.

5. Manipulate to gain attention

Fake individuals often employ manipulation tactics to achieve their goals. They may use charm, deceit, or even intimidation to get what they want. Be wary of colleagues who try to manipulate situations or exploit others for personal gain.

6. Always tend to be self-centred

Fake people tend to be self-centred and prioritise their own needs above others. They may constantly seek attention, praise, or recognition, often at the expense of their colleagues. Notice if someone frequently dominates conversations or always redirects discussions back to themselves.

7. Play blame game

Authentic individuals take responsibility for their actions and mistakes. In contrast, fake people may deflect blame onto others or make excuses to avoid accountability. If a coworker consistently refuses to own up to their errors, it could indicate insincerity.

8. Give fake commitments

Trust is essential in every relationship, even at work. Fake people may make promises they do not intend to keep or fail to follow through it. Pay attention to whether someone consistently sticks on their word or frequently falls short of their commitments.

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9. Pretend to be over-friendly

Fake people often maintain superficial relationships based on convenience or utility. They may be overly friendly in person, but distant or disengaged when not directly interacting. Take note of whether a colleague’s interactions with you feel genuine or superficial.

10. May emit a sense of negativity

Trust your instincts and pay attention to the energy someone brings into the workplace. Fake individuals can be toxic and may emit a sense of negativity, drama, or tension wherever they go. If being around a coworker consistently leaves you feeling drained or uneasy, it could be a sign of their insincerity.

Also Read: 6 ways to be strong while working with toxic people

How to deal with fake co-workers?

Once you spot fake colleagues, you should know what to do. Here are some tips:

1. Interact with them, but have limits

Keep your interactions with fake colleagues professional and courteous. “Avoid stooping to their level or engaging in negative behaviour, as this could reflect poorly on you,” says the expert.

2. Draw a boundary

Establish clear boundaries to protect yourself from manipulation or exploitation by fake individuals. Politely but firmly assert your limits and stick to them, whether it’s regarding personal information, workload, or collaboration.

Also Read: Saying ‘Yes’ to everything and everyone? These 7 tips can help you set boundaries

Boundaries for fake colleagues
Set boundaries while dealing with fake colleagues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Don’t let emotions cloud your judgement

Maintain objectivity when dealing with fake people. Focus on facts and evidence rather than emotions or assumptions. “This can help you assess situations more accurately and respond appropriately,” says the expert.

4. Not every conflict requires a stand

Not every interaction with a fake person requires a confrontation. Decide which issues are worth addressing directly and which ones you can let go. Save your energy for situations that truly impact your work or well-being.

5. Keep yourself away from gossip

Refrain from participating in gossip or spreading rumours about fake colleagues, as this only perpetuates negativity and drama. Instead, focus on building positive relationships with genuine coworkers who share your values.

Also Read: Ever wondered why people gossip? Well, science has the answer

6. Keep a record of suspicious behaviour

Keep a record of any concerning behaviour or interactions with fake individuals. Documenting specific incidents can provide evidence if you need to address the situation with a supervisor or HR department.

7. Build your support system

If you are struggling to deal with a fake colleague, do not hesitate to seek support from trusted coworkers, mentors, or supervisors. They can offer guidance, perspective, or assistance in handling the situation effectively.

8. Speak up for yourself

Assertiveness is key when dealing with fake people. Communicate your boundaries, expectations, and concerns without being aggressive or confrontational. Stand up for yourself and assert your rights respectfully.

9. Focus on your work

Maintain your focus on your professional goals and priorities despite any distractions or disruptions caused by fake individuals. Channel your energy into your work and strive for excellence, regardless of external influences.

10. Cultivate positive connections with genuine colleagues

Invest your time and energy in building genuine relationships with genuine people who share your values and work ethic. Surround yourself with people who exude positivity and support you to navigate challenges at your workplace.

As you gradually cut fake people off, seek assistance and emotional support from your genuine coworkers, friends, family, or a therapist. You should also put your well-being first by doing things that make you happy and fulfilled. Most importantly, use the experience to improve your judgement in picking mates and detecting true connections.

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About the Author

Shruti Bhattacharya is a content writer and editor for over 2 years. She specialises in writing on a variety of topics such as wellness, lifestyle, beauty, technology and fashion. Her current focus is on creating factually correct and informative stories for readers. ...Read More

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