Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Confidence / overconfidence?

I guess a workplace rant was over due... Why is it that some people insist on making every statement, like they absolutely must be right, and as if they can quote a million pieces of data to back up their statements, even when all they have a statement heard third hand , and no knowledge on the matter?

In a majority of the cases, most of our knowledge is shaky , sketchy and iffy at best. Its fine to state what you feel you know, perhaps even back it with a "I'm quite confident its correct." But whats with the misplaced overconfidence and aggression? The absolute refusal to say - "Thats what I know, here are my sources, I could be wrong".

I guess part of the problem tends to be the words we use, our body language, how red in the face we get, defending a statement we made, which at best was just a statement. The more instances in which we push ourselves into a corner and try to cover by sounding more overconfident, the more we erode our credibility.

I guess its unfortunate, but after a point, a lot of people just get on my list of - "not to be trusted for any facts, unless independently verified". They're actually eroded the trust they could have got for their areas of expertise, if only they'd claimed a little less confidence in the areas which are NOT their areas of expertise. Sad, but that's the way it goes. Trusting your little nugget of information, when you're wrong, can cost me more, than not trusting anything you say.

And amazingly, this doesn't come only from the vocal extrovert people around. Sometimes the shy, softspoken people are the worst offenders, almost as if since they speak so little, every time they do, they absolutely must be right.

Come on fellow workers, a little less confidence won't kill you!

3 comments:

Gunjan said...

The more harmful thing is when someone gets over emotional about "How things should work" in products...

People should give unemotional balanced viewpoints and then let the owner take the decision...

I have faced this in my work life...

Tess said...

@ gunjan - hah yes, that of course is a whole story by itself!

But I can still understand how someone can get emotional about "How things should work", I'm more at a loss about why would someone get completely stubborn , aggresive, overconfident about black and white things like - this build supports this feature, this api also has a side affect of deleting a file, stuff of that sort. I mean these are simple verifieable facts, and in lots of cases they aren't the owner/accountable person for it either.

Its just a case of sheer ego!

veena said...

But these are the people organizations terms as 'enthusiastic' 'self driven' leaders!! There is little place for competency about facts being right. It is just about shooting down the not so agressive and therefore 'unenthusiastic' colleague!