Truly confident people must be open to feedback from others

We all have a predisposition to like the familiar. It is comforting and requires little in the way of effort. Mainly, however, sticking to the familiar is to reduce fear of the unknown.

Confidence is to embrace uncertainty believing you will have the better of the particular argument. Foolhardy recklessness arises from a more generalised belief that one is sure to prosper irrespective of the circumstances.

Genuine confidence is limited to certain situations, and is subject to continual revision. Truly socially confident people believe that they will have positive interactions with others.

However their confidence extends to being open to self-monitoring and feedback from others as to how they are faring. The confident will seek this feedback to learn and improve, which in turn makes them more effective, and therefore more confident. A virtuous feedback loop.

Is there anything worse than a socially over-confident individual? You know the types. Overbearing, no conversation, all one-way, just a lecture. The type who ends a declaration with an invitation to agree — «am I right?».


YellowCredit:Kerrie Leishman

It is a brave, or particularly irritated interlocutor who responds in the negative. In this way, such people will convince others to invest in hare-brained schemes, convince them that nothing could possibly go wrong, or get them to endorse their (often) repugnant views.

The lack of any meaningful feedback mechanism in the overconfident means they live in closed-worlds attracting acolytes who mistake brazen behaviour for confidence and see these charlatans as fortifying their own shaky self-belief. This is how disasters happen. Banks and batting orders collapse, ships founder, political parties lose touch, and queens and courtiers lose their heads (literally).

When the day of reckoning inevitably arrives, the overconfident, lacking any mechanism to balance self-belief with reality testing, move from the closed system of hubris to the other extreme of a closed system of under-confidence. Extreme caution, over-regulation of the previously under-regulated, a complete loss of appetite for risk, a fall-back to the «tried and tested ways» are all typical responses.

Confidence is a balancing act, teetering on the edge of chaos between being too fearful and fearless. It is about acting and being open. About taking calculated risks rather than being reckless. It is difficult, and for much of the time, most of us will be fighting to get on top of the confidence game. It is the high-wire confidence trick we all need to perform.




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