STOP falling for fake friends at work | Catherine Mattiske

Sep 18 / Catherine Mattiske

How to Spot a Faux Friend

We've all been there. You meet someone new and you hit it off immediately. You exchange numbers, start texting, and before you know it, you're making plans to meet up for coffee. But then, something happens. The texts become less frequent. The meetups become less frequent. And suddenly, you realize that you're being ghosted.

What is a Faux Friend?

A faux, or fake friend is someone who uses you for their own gain. They are only interested in your when it benefits them and they are quick to disappear when it doesn't. Fake friends are often fair-weather friends; they are only interested in spending time with you when things are going well for them and they will distance themselves from you when things aren't going so well.

How to Spot a Fake Friend

There are several warning signs that can help you spot a fake friend:
  1. They cancel plans at the last minute or don't show up at all without a good excuse.
  2. They only reach out to you when they need something (money, a favor, etc.).
  3. They take advantage of your generosity.
  4. They gossip about you behind your back or talk badly about you to your face.
  5. They never have anything nice to say about anyone else.
  6. They are always trying to one-up you or make themselves look better than you in comparison.
  7. They ditch you as soon as someone "better" comes along, or they get busy with other things.
  8. They never have any money when it's time to pay the bill or split the check evenly (even though they always seem to have money for other things).
  9. They always want to be the center of attention and get upset if they're not getting enough attention from you or others around them.
  10. You just have a gut feeling that something isn't right about them.

5 Ways to Spot a Faux Work Colleague

We've all been here as well. You're in a meeting and someone says something that just rubs you the wrong way. Maybe they take credit for your idea, or they talk over you when you're trying to speak. Whatever the case may be, there's always that one person at work who just gets on your nerves. But how can you tell if someone is truly a faux colleague, or if they're just having a bad day? 

Here are five things to look out for:

  1. They're always trying to one-up you.
  2. They take credit for your ideas.
  3. They gossip about other people.
  4. They're never happy with anything.
  5. They’re too friendly too early in the business relationship

If you notice someone exhibiting any of these behaviors on a regular basis, chances are they're not really your friend at work. And that's okay! Not everyone is going to get along, but it's important to be able to identify those who are simply pretending to be supportive colleagues.

1. They're always trying to one-up you.

One-upping behavior is usually pretty easy to spot. If someone is always trying to one-up you, it means they're constantly trying to make themselves look better by comparison. This might manifest itself in bragging about their latest accomplishments or putting down your ideas in favor of their own. If you notice someone doing this on a regular basis, it's probably best to steer clear.

2. They take credit for your ideas.

Another red flag is when someone takes credit for your ideas. This can be especially frustrating if you've been working on a project together and they end up getting all the credit while you're left out in the cold. If you notice this happening, have a heart-to-heart with your colleague and see if they're willing to share the credit more equally in future projects. If not, it might be time to move on.

3. They gossip about other people.

Gossiping is another huge no-no in the workplace. If someone is constantly talking about other people behind their backs, it's only a matter of time before they start doing the same thing to you. No one wants to work with someone they can't trust, so if you notice this behavior in a colleague, it's best to distance yourself before things get too complicated.

4. They're never happy with anything.

If someone is never happy with anything, it can make working with them downright difficult. Whether it's constantly complaining about the company or nitpicking every little detail of every project, this kind of behavior can quickly become toxic and drag down morale for everyone involved. If you find yourself in this situation, try talking to your colleague and see if there's anything that can be done to improve the situation. If not, it might be time to move on. 

5. They’re too friendly too early in the business relationship.

Faux work colleagues are too friendly too early in the business relationship and it makes me uncomfortable. I don't want to be friends with them, have coffee, go to a movie - I just want to be colleagues. How can I get them to back off without being rude?

It's perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable when someone is too friendly too early in a business relationship. Many people feel the same way and it's nothing to be ashamed of. The best way to deal with this situation is to be direct and honest with the person. Let them know that you appreciate their friendliness but that you're not interested in becoming friends.

Discouraged Devan Deals with his “Faux’s”

Devan had been at his job for a few months when he was called on to speak at a meeting. He liked the people that he worked with, and he was excited to share his ideas. But Devan quickly noticed that his so-called friends would one-up him, claim his ideas as their own, and speak over him. It was frustrating, but Devan tried to stay professional and enthusiastic.

One day, Devan had an idea for a new project. He wanted to create a presentation and share it with his team. But before he could even get started, his coworkers swooped in and claimed the idea as their own. Devan felt frustrated and discouraged. He didn't know if he could continue working with these people if they were going to take everything from him.

One day, after a particularly frustrating meeting, Devan decided to take matters into his own hands. He gathered all of the team members together and explained how he felt. He told them that he respected their opinions and wanted them to respect him as well. By being honest, brave, and upfront he addressed the issue, and stood up for himself, and they respected him for that. They decided to support Devan in the new project. So, he brought them into the project, working collaboratively with them and the project was a great success. They all shared in the project accolades and Devan feels like he is now part of a genuinely connected team.

Drive transformation

How to Deal with Faux Friends and Work Colleagues

Everyone has had to deal with a faux friend or work colleague at some point in their life. You know the type – they're always trying to one-up you, they gossip behind your back, and they generally make your life more difficult than it needs to be. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to deal with one of these people on a regular basis, here are a few tips to help you get through it.

1. Keep your distance. 

The first thing you need to do is keep your distance. This person is not your friend, so don't treat them like one. Don't confide in them, don't share personal information, and don't go out of your way to include them in social plans. The less they know about you, the better.

2. Don't engage in gossip. 

Faux friends love nothing more than gossiping about other people, but you should never engage in this behavior with them. Not only is it unprofessional, but it will also give them more ammunition to use against you later on. If they start gossiping about someone else, just change the subject or walk away altogether.

3. Stand up for yourself. 

Another important thing to remember is that you need to stand up for yourself. This person is not going to respect you if you don't respect yourself. If they say or do something that makes you uncomfortable, speak up and let them know that it's not okay. The more assertive you are, the less power they will have over you.

From Faux Friends to Genuine Connections

In a world where we are more connected than ever before, it's important to have genuine connections with the people in our lives. Whether it's with our co-workers, friends, or family, these relationships play a crucial role in our overall well-being. So how do we turn those faux friends into genuine connections?

1. Talk about things other than work. 

We all know that one person who only ever wants to talk about work. And while it's great to have common interests, there's more to life than just our jobs. When we take the time to talk about other things, we learn more about the person and what they're passionate about. This helps us build a deeper connection with them.

2. Schedule regular check-ins. 

In our busy lives, it's easy to let months go by without talking to our friends or family. But when we make an effort to check in with them regularly, it shows that we care about them and value their friendship. We can do this by scheduling weekly phone calls or monthly coffee dates. Whatever works for both parties!

3. Be vulnerable with each other. 

It can be scary to open up and be vulnerable with someone, but it's also necessary for building deep, meaningful relationships. When we share our fears and doubts with each other, we create a sense of trust and intimacy that is essential for any friendship.

What's your archetype?

Building Genuine Connections by Communicating in Their Inner Genius Archetype

When you meet someone for the first time, it's easy to put up a persona and pretend to be someone you're not. But if you really want to make a connection with someone, it's important to be genuine. One way to do this is to communicate in the other person's Inner Genius Archetype.

What is the Inner Genius Archetype?

The Inner Genius Archetype is the true essence of who we are. It is our deepest, most authentic self. When we are connected to our Inner Genius, we are in alignment with our highest purpose and potential and can work towards that by operating in our Genius Zone.

When you meet someone new, take the time to ask them about their Inner Genius Archetype. If they’ve done their Inner Genius Profile, ask them to share their results. What are their passions? What are their talents? What makes them feel alive?

By uncovering the other person's Inner Genius Archetype, you will be able to connect with them on a deeper level and create a lasting friendship, or business relationship.

Inner Genius Toolkit $99

Reflective Questions:

  • What are some ways to turn faux friends into genuine connections?
  • How can you tell the difference between faux friends and genuine connections?
  • What are some things you should do when you meet a potential faux friend?
  • What are some things you should do when you meet a potential genuine connection? 
  • Why is it important to build genuine connections?


By understanding how to spot faux friends and colleagues, you can arm yourself with the knowledge you need to steer clear of them. But what if you’re not sure whether someone is a faux friend or colleague? That’s where the Inner Genius Profile comes in. This profile will help you get into your Genius Zone – you’ll unlock your learning and communication preferences so that you can better communicate with others. Genuine connections are vital for our overall well-being, so it's important that we nurture the relationships in our lives so that we can turn those faux friends into genuine connections.

Have you tried using the Inner Genius Profile yet? If not, head over to our website and take the profile today! You won’t regret it.

Get GQ Profile

About Catherine

About Catherine mattiske

Catherine Mattiske, best known for creating ID9 Intelligent Design and the Genius Quotient (GQ), is a leading light in the corporate learning and team-building industries. She regularly works with large and small organizations to help team members better understand one another while effectively collaborating and boosting individual and team morale and productivity in the workplace.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter. Get member discounts. Be inspired. Live in your genius zone.