Kate Kei

Why you need to be confident

People who are confident are often perceived as more skilled and talented that they really are.

A couple of years ago I was doing an Irish dance workshop. We had a brilliant teacher – Breandán de Gallaí, a great dancer and choreographer, but also a very wise and interesting person.

And I remember Breandán de Gallaí telling us somewhere in the middle of the class something that resonated with me and made me think:

“If you do something, do it with confidence.”

Later during the year I saw a real life example of it. importance of self-confidenceWe were dancing at the grade exam and there was a girl who did not know her step. She only started learning it the day before the exam and could not entirely remember it no matter how hard she tried.

So here we were, sitting on a wooden bench by the wall, waiting for the judge to call us. Everyone was nervous – smiles frozen on our faces, breathless and struggling to keep our knees from shaking.

And then that girl was called forward. She stood up and walked to the middle of the room. Calm and sure, she held her head high and her confident smile was directed straight at the judge. The music started playing and the girl started to dance.

Back on the bench, we were watching her, not even daring to breathe.

Half-way through the first step she forgot what it was supposed to be. But her confidence didn’t waver: without showing any sign of confusion or worry, she kept smiling and dancing some instant improvisation of hers. She didn’t stop nor linger. She danced it until the end and went back to the bench in this very same confident manner.

Obviously, we were speechless – torn between worry and admiration, we could only stare. But the best part was when the results were announced: the girl actually passed the exam! And her mark was even better than the marks of some other people who knew the step but made some mistakes. Her only remark was “the step on the right foot was slightly different from the one on the left foot” (for those who know nothing of dancing, they are supposed to be the same – first you dance it on the right foot, then on the left).

Was she better than the others? – No, she wasn’t.

She was confident. She danced with confidence and that’s what made all the difference.
The difference between passing and failing.

 

why to be confident

Now, what would be your own judgment?

Imagine yourself on a brainstorming meeting session. You see the people around you for the first time and you haven’t met them before. There is this guy sitting right next to you who looks nervous. He is mostly silent and when he starts talking, he clearly sounds unsure and shy. And there is another guy who seems right the opposite – he looks everybody straight in the eyes, talks a lot and participates extensively. Whom would you instinctively qualify as more competent?

I am sure most of the people will tend to pick up the confident guy: if he speaks and attracts attention, he is not afraid to look stupid, so he probably knows something. And even if in a lot of cases it is not true, this is how our perception works.

What exactly is confidence?

Confidence is a feeling or belief that you can succeed at something. It’s a certainty that something is true or that something is going to happen.

A confident person is a person full of conviction, a person who has assurance and self-reliance.

But a confident person is also a person who shows assurance and self-reliance. A person who shows that he/she has confidence.

I am sure you have heard the saying « Fake it until you make it ». What is the use of doing it in relation to confidence?

What does scientific research say?

Let’s have a look at solid facts provided by scientific research. A study conducted by scientists from the California University, Berkley, and the University of Navarra showed that people who are confident are often perceived as more skilled and talented that they really are. They are also viewed by their peers as more competent and terrific.

Results: they easily get status positions, access to resources and/or information, gain influence and various benefits.

 

benefits of self-confidence

Another important point that several different researches emphasized is that overconfidence actually helps to achieve a higher status at work.

How could that be if in reality they are often far less talented and competent?

Well, amazingly, the fact is that in most cases we don’t have the time to gather the real proof of the person’s abilities, and have to rely on substitute indicators. What’s the biggest one? You guessed it right: confidence.

Confidence is also the right strategy to get a date. For both men and women, a look of confidence and a confident smile can go a long way in getting the attention of the potential date.

Of course, there are situations were overconfidence can hurt. If the cost of the conflict is too high, like in politics for example, caution will definitely pay off.

However, in everyday life confidence is the winning strategy.

 

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References:

  • The Minority Report, University of Melbourne, 2012
  • Johnson, D. D. P., Weidmann, N. B. & Cederman, L.-E. Fortune favours the bold: an agent-based model reveals adaptive advantages of overconfidence in war. PLoS ONE6e20851 (2011)
  • Anderson, C., Brion, S., Moore, D.A., Kennedy J.A., A Status-enhancement account of overconfidence.

 

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