Success: How to fake it till you make it

Article by NEXT

How to fake it

Some of the most successful people in the world live by the mantra ‘fake it till you make it’. While it can be achievable by the way you dress and how you act, what you say is equally important. So what happens if you’re at a party or a work event and the conversation strays into unfamiliar territory?

There’s nothing more isolating than being in a conversation you can’t understand, much less comment on, so we’ve come up with some basic terminology, phrases and facts to arm you with enough knowledge so you can sound like you do.

If you don’t know what you’re talking about it works best to say very little… but when you do talk make your comments either slightly vague or really profound. Of course, the best way to sound knowledgeable is to know a little on a lot of subjects.

With this guide to faking it you’ll be able to handle art gallery visits and dinner parties with aplomb. You’re welcome.


A thoughtful look is key
If you think your kid could draw it, it’s probably worth a lot of money, so it’s unwise to dismiss anything as ‘basic’. Art appreciation is all in the body language. At a gallery, tilt your head to one side, walk slowly towards the piece, adopt a pensive expression… maybe even rub your chin. If you must speak, utter one statement about the colours or composition. If you want to look like a serious art buff then a good thing to do is to start buying prints. You may not want to begin at the top of the range but a good place to look is art school exhibitions. Get them while they’re cheap!

Stay on the ball
If you’d rather watch SBW than an LBW (leg before wicket – where the batsman is dismissed because the ball would have hit the wicket but was intercepted by part of their body), we get it. But you can still pretend you’re up with the play. A good phrase to know is, “A dot ball is a good ball.” This is when the batsman scores zero runs off a ball. If there isn’t much space between the wicket-keeper and the player closest to them you can say, “First slip is standing too close.”

If the players are wearing white, it’s a test match – that’s the five-day version for hardcore fans. To win, you not only have to have the most runs, you have to bowl the other team out twice, which is why many of these games end in a draw. If our team is in black, it’s probably a one-day match, like we played at the Cricket World Cup. If the players are trying to hit every shot out of the park, it could be a 20/20 match, the shortest version of the game. And whatever you do, never ever ask who’s winning. Even on five-dayers you don’t know who has won till the final ball is bowled.

Squeals, clunks and other noises
Who hasn’t felt uneasy when taking their car to the shop. While your mechanic might be the expert and be able to fix your car, how do you know they won’t take you for a ride because your car knowledge is so limited? You might need to brush up on a few terms, so here’s what to listen out for: A high-pitched squeal when the car is accelerating?

Tell your mechanic to replace the fan belt. If you hear a clunking underneath your car when you go over a bump it’s likely to be your shock absorbers and suspension; while a noise coming from the rear of the vehicle might be your tailpipe or muffler. And if your brakes are squeaking, ask your mechanic to replace the brake pads.

Just not during dinner
A hot issue in New Zealand is the TPPA – the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – a regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. A comment on the potential rise in the costs of medicines due to pharmaceutical companies having greater influence would be a good idea. Or, since no one really knows what the full impact of the TPPA will be, you can get away with: “I just don’t think we fully understand the consequences of what we’re agreeing to.”

In US politics, rather than getting bogged down in policies, go with these: “Did you know [Democratic candidate] Martin O’Malley plays in a Celtic rock band?” or “[Republican candidate] Mike Huckabee criticised Beyoncé, so he has no chance.” And with the economy, try: “One per cent of the world’s population controls half its wealth, so that’s what we need to focus on.” If all else fails, mutter something about Greece then walk away.

Misty Copeland
Healthy living
The funny business of fitness
You don’t have to actually do any exercise, you just have to sound like you do. Mentioning the kale smoothie you had this morning, and the barre class you’re going to tonight will make you sound so #fitspo, as will mentioning your new Lululemon yoga pants and complaining you’re desperate for a matcha tea shot. When hanging with health buffs, drop phrases like “Do I have quinoa stuck in my teeth?” or “Ugh, I’ve spilled activated almonds all through my handbag!”

If you’re really struggling, excuse yourself from the conversation with this: “I’m going home to make bone broth, and I have to get up early for crossfit.” You will get a hero’s send-off. Joking aside, current fitness trends may see gym instructors replaced with workout videos on screens, and the pegan diet (paleo meets vegan) will be what everyone is doing.

Social media
No more status anxiety
It’s certainly difficult to navigate social media and to look like you always know what you’re doing. In terms of ‘faking it’, it’s more how you use your own social media. Don’t ‘like’ your own photo as it looks narcissistic, and never ‘like’ a photo of someone you’re secretly Facebook stalking – yes they can see this. Try to stay current. If you went to a wedding last year no one really wants to see drunk-fuelled pics of you and the bride months later. It’s old news – unless it’s a Thursday and then you can tag it #tbt aka throwback Thursday. Speaking of hashtags, while generic ones are good like #happyplace or #love, creating your own will add a bit of humour to your post. On the subject of posting, while you find every single photo of your little darlings adorable – not everyone does.

If you don’t want to lose friends try to keep posts of your children to a maximum of one a week. This also applies to fur babies. Blocking is fast becoming a big thing – that’s where you tailor your news feeds to exclude whatever annoys you. Case in point, the KardBlock app, which hides all Kardashian mentions from your social media. If someone mentions follower numbers, talk about the “followers to following ratio”. (The ideal is to have more followers than accounts you’re following.)


It’s okay to be a little sniffy
Want to be a cork dork? It’s what you do before even taking a sip that counts. Take your time swirling the wine in the glass to aerate it (this releases the aromas), hold it up to the light
then sniff it. To really wow, put a napkin or piece of paper behind the glass so you can confidently specify the depth of colour (hint: try ‘ruby’ or ‘magenta’).

Words such as ‘berries’ and ‘earthiness’ are often used. Here are some key fruit notes to reference for each wine variety:

  • Cab sav: blackberry, currant
  • Merlot: black cherry, plum
  • Pinot noir: cranberry, red cherry
  • Chardonnay: green apple, melon
  • Sav blanc: citrus notes, gooseberry

Drop into conversation that Sicilian wines really deserve the industry buzz they’re generating – and doesn’t nero d’Avola capture the island’s unique flavour so wonderfully? Cheers!

Horse races
Well, isn’t that fascinating?
You’ve got the frock and fascinator, but what will really set you out from the pack is your knowledge of what happens on the track. Do a bit of pre-race research by reading the form guide; look for a horse with long odds as you can describe it as ‘a roughie’. Long odds means the horse is paying more but is less likely to win. Short odds means the horse is paying less but has a better chance. It’s all about risk vs reward.

Head to the pre-race parade ring and use your observational skills to point out horses that look calm and have good muscle tone, and any that look uneasy and sweaty. You can go a step further and comment on the horse’s colour. There are five: bay (reddish brown with black mane and tail), black, brown, chestnut and grey. Finally, to sound like a seasoned race-goer, don’t bet on a horse to win or place. Bet the exacta (that’s picking the first two horses in order), quinella (the first two horses in any order) or duet (two of the first three in any order). Fancy.

Hit the market
If you’re required to comment on the investment climate know that health is regarded as a ‘growth sector’ due to our ageing population. Many Kiwis are now trading across the ditch due to ease of access online, so talk about the Australian sharemarket. Mention ‘market depth’ (meaning: information about the number of people waiting to buy shares, which is not available in the New Zealand sharemarket) and ‘greater liquidity’ (more trading action than in NZ). If anyone talks about volatile stocks, remind them the market falls three times faster than it rises. Apparently. But to sound like a true investment guru, throwing in a few animal references may help:

Bear – when the market is in decline.
Pig – someone driven by greed rather than smart investment philosophy.
Dog – an underperforming investment.
Ostrich – an investor with their head in the sand, failing to react to conditions.
Bull – a positive sharemarket environment.
Sheep – someone who blindly follows the investment play of others.

From the editors of NEXT