Stop Faking Buy-In


Man signing a check

You all know them. Perhaps you are “them”; those who seem to eagerly agree, but then rarely participate.  Or they agree but participate unhappily.

“You bet I’ll help you move!”

“Of course I’ll work every Saturday to get a client project completed on time.”

“Call me; I’d love to help on that community project.”

People are social creatures. Most of us try to get along, knowing that we must co-exist with those in our work and personal lives. We want to be accepted in the pack.

Now I know there are times conflicts interfere with our commitments. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m thinking about the people that love to talk a good game but rarely show up. Maybe some have made their commitments due to peer pressure, but I tend to think many of them are actually well intentioned at the time they volunteer or agree. They are well-intentioned but thoughtless.

I believe most people faking buy-in have learned there is little social penalty for failing to follow through. No one calls out the fakers. In turn, the fake buy-in is reinforced as an acceptable behavior, easier to do with each repetition.

I think the age of Facebook has contributed to this problem. Sure I’ll “like” your post about your event or project. Now I feel I’ve been involved, I’ve done my part. Someone else can do the rest of the work.

The problem with those who regularly fake buy-in is loss of credibility. Not just for the one project, but for all things in life. Those doing all the work tire of expecting effort from those that continuously fail to meet their commitments.

Even though in many places “no” is avoided like a four-letter word, for most people an honest “no” is an acceptable answer. In the long run, it is even appreciated over fake commitments that lead to disappointment.

Don’t be a faker. Be honest. Be real. Be thoughtful in your responses, not just on “automatic.”

“Yes, we must do lunch soon.”


Glenn S. PhillipsGlenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself.  You can email Glenn directly at

Glenn is also the founder, and Senior Consultant, of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.

© Copyright 2014. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.