People are funny. We’re often doing things the make other people scratch their heads and wonder ‘What the hell?’.

One of the interesting types of people that humor me are what I call ‘mimics’. Mimics are simply defined as someone who presents all the characteristics of a certain type of person, but in reality, lack those attributes. We see these people every day. They’ll wear glasses to appear intelligent, expensive clothes to appear wealthy, etc. But it’s all a false pretense. They’re devoid of true substance.

The mimics that interest me most, are the ones who try to project intelligence. Their attempts usually involve layers of facade, to buttress the image the mimic is trying to craft. While they can be humorous to observe, these mimics are relatively harmless. I see them more asĀ aficionados rather than a menace.

The mimics who have the potential to be troublesome and which can pose an immediate threat to you, are the ones that can have a negative influence upon you in terms of your employment. They can shape how your co-workers view you and interfere with opportunities for advancement denied to you because of their input. This is especially true if they’re in a leadership role above you. While this type of mimic can be hard to deal with, all is not lost. Recognizing the mimic is just as important as how you deal with the mimic.

Fortunately, mimics can be dealt with much the same way as dealing with regular folks. Here are a few suggestions…

  1. Do not overplay your hand.

Never offer up too much information when a mimic is in a leadership position above you, asks a question. Answer only the question at hand without any superfluous details or examples. Allow them the opportunity to ask follow up questions. In this way, you can assess just how much the mimic understands. Knowing the mimic’s limitations can be advantageous. In a group situation, this tactic strengthens your position as more knowledgeable than the mimic.

2. Know your audience.

It’s always a good idea to use words and terminology that is easily understood by those with whom you’re speaking. Words convey thoughts. If those words are confusing to others, you’ve lost your audience.

3. Know your subject matter.

There’s nothing worse than listening to someone, who really doesn’t understand what it is they’re talking about, attempt to explain it to you. I’m reminded of Einstein and one of his many quotes. He said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Before speaking, consider the possible questions that may result. Have in mind the answer to such questions before they arise. Fumbling to answer a question, can make you appear unqualified. In your response, be direct. Be sincere. Put forth potential obstacles before another mentions them. This will illustrate the fact that you’ve thought through how outside forces can impact your ideas and/or solutions. Be willing to admit that you don’t have ‘all the answers’.

4. Ask for suggestions.

Lastly, I would say that you should ask for input from those above, and around you. No matter how smart you are, there’s always something you do not know. Sometimes, additional information may alter your opinions or suggestions. At the very least, input from others, will give them a feeling of ownership in the final decisions being contemplated. Ownership of an idea or process, lends itself to becoming adopted by those charged with implementing it to begin with. More importantly, unanimity within a group can help avoid a poor decision being driven by a mimic superior. It also spreads consensus across the group, rather than you shouldering and defending the ideas by yourself.

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