There’s a theory about overly confident people that I’ve been floating around my friends for some time now.
It goes like this: Often, overly confident people get what they want because nobody wants to actually go through the trouble of telling them “no.”
And I do mean “trouble,” by the way, because when you’re dealing with someone who lacks so much self-awareness that they can’t realize how ridiculous their perceptions of themselves are, the task of bringing them back to reality can be exhausting.
Your buddy who’s a “2” but acts like a “10” is always so much harder to argue against.
Why? Because overconfidence is a thick shield so hard to get through, that, at times, a lot of people don’t devoting the energy required to attack.
Now, I’ll reiterate, that’s just a personal theory, but I feel more confident sharing that theory having read a few things on the subject.
Thing number one: Take this study by Cameron Anderson, a psychologist at UC Berkeley. Anderson’s research found that people who merely appeared more confident achieved higher social status.
Anderson told The Telegraph,
In organizations, people are very easily swayed by others’ confidence even when that confidence is unjustified. Displays of confidence are given an inordinate amount of weight.
That sounds about right, too.
It turns out, “fake it ’til you make it” isn’t just a cliche. It looks like a motto people can ride to job promotions, first dates, unwarranted admiration and more.
But there’s a downside to overconfidence (emphasis on the “over”). As Anderson points out, there’s usually a gap between where overly confident people think their competence is at and where it’s actually at.
So you can have a lot of confidence and fake it ’til you make it. But once you “make it,” it might not be long ’til that confidence is exposed for unwarranted cockiness.
Luckily, there’s an alternative.
Take it from University College of London professor Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, who literally wrote the book on how overconfidence is used to mask incompetence.
Chamorro-Premuzic told the Harvard Business review,
Well, confidence has two faces: an external face and an internal face. And the external face of confidence looks a lot like extroversion– and extroverts are usually more charismatic than introverts, at least in most Western societies.
However, one can be internally confident without projecting that to others. And when people see was overly confident, you will be seen as arrogant and even obnoxious, rather than charming are extroverted. Narcissists are a very good example of this.
That internal confidence the professor alludes to squares off with another theory I’ve had: True confidence leads to humility.
I don’t say this as a person who thinks he’s one person or the other (the overconfidence and cocky person or the truly confident and humble person).
In fact, one of the reasons Chamorro-Premuzic’s words made so much sense upon reading them is because I understand both sides. I’ve found myself displaying unreasonable confidence at times when I didn’t have actual confidence in my ability to do something, like when I told my editors I’d come to work on time for all of 2017 (sorry guys).
On the other hand, I find myself being internally confident when it comes to things I know I’m really good at. Because I know I’m good at those things, I never feel the need to shout about it and insist to people that, “yes, I CAN DO THIS.”
In my experience, internal confidence leads me to be super ambitious in my own head, and humble externally, knowing that I have the ability to show and not just tell.
That’s the type of confidence that’s most ideal, which brings us back to where we began. Again, this is a personal opinion, but it seems to be back up by enough evidence that I feel (genuinely) confident sharing it.
Overconfidence is really unwarranted cockiness, and even if it can take you places, it can also get you exposed, big time. The mark of true confidence, though, is humility.
Strive for the latter.