It can be a bit confusing for people entering the workforce when it comes to Self-Confidence. On the one hand we want them to be confident; to take initiative, to make decisions, to speak up, to back themselves. On the other hand, most people don’t appreciate someone who is too confident. It’s sometimes hard to find a balance.

Clarifying Self-Confidence:

·        Self-confidence is very much about what you do – your performance.

·        Self-confidence is based on your past experiences.

·        Self-confidence is a usually experienced as a feeling about your ability to achieve a certain task in a certain context.

·        Self-confidence is like a roller coaster, it goes up and down.

·        Self-confidence comes in degrees from high to low.

·        Self-confidence is very different and separate to Self-Esteem.

Can you feel overly Confident?

Since Self-confidence is based on your past experience, and it is a feeling, you can rate how confident you feel about your ability to perform a task.  For example, you can rate how confident you feel about successfully completing a project at work on a scale from zero to ten. The problem is, you can feel overly confident. You can feel and believe you can do something when you cannot. When your self-confidence is not based on reality, or not based on your past experience and skill development, it is false.

How might Over-Confidence play out in the Workplace?

Sally was getting her Self-confidence confused with Self-esteem. (The distinction between self-esteem and self-confidence is explained fully in Dr L. Michael Hall’s book, The Crucible, 2010). She believed her value, her worth as a person, was determined by the quality of work she produced – and she was getting feedback that she was producing excellent work. Sally started asking for opportunities to work on projects that she simply did not have the experience or skills for yet. And that’s fine! Good on her for being pro-active and seeking out opportunities.

The problem was when Sally started to believe she was more important as a personthan some of her colleagues. She believed she was entitled to special treatment. Other people in her team started experiencing her as cocky, big-headed, arrogant and a know-it-all. They started to not want to work with her on projects, not because of her skill level, but because of how she treated other them. She saw herself as better than her team members because her skills were better. Instead of being an advantage, Sally’s over-confidence was starting to hold her back at work.

So yes, it is possible to be ‘overly confident’ in your ability to perform a certain task or role. And when this happens we become far less likely to ask for and receive feedback. And sometimes we become reluctant to ask for help (we should already know right!). We might even try to hide our mistakes, or become defensive about our work.

What’s the solution?

Know that Self-confidence is something you can build up over time. By practicing, through repetition, through making mistakes and learning from them.

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