According to Wikipedia:
Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Self-confidence is having confidence in oneself. Arrogance or hubris in this comparison, is having unmerited confidence—believing something or someone is capable or correct when they are not. Overconfidence or presumptuousness is excessive belief in someone (or something) succeeding, without any regard for failure. Confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as those without it may fail or not try because they lack it and those with it may succeed because they have it rather than because of an innate ability.
The key word is certainty. Being certain that you are right. I see a spectrum here:
Lack of Over-
Confidence Confidence Arrogance Confidence
We all have met people who fall along this spectrum. But where do you and I fall? Can we be sure? How do others perceive where we fall? Does this perception hurt us in our jobs or relationships? Is this a blind-spot for us? Do we see what others see? Does that matter?
Now that I’m done with rhetorical questions, go ahead and answer them for yourself.
I am the child of an abusive narcissist. I was physically and mentally tortured. Any confidence I may have had was ripped from me. I was taught to filter all things through the lens of how it affected my abuser. I was not allowed to have faith in my abilities or to have opinions of my own. How can you have confidence in yourself when there is no self in which to have confidence? Thus, I had no confidence when I went out in the world. Zero.
That was 27 years ago.
I am a 45-year-old man now.
When I left home, I was certainly a zero on the confidence spectrum. I would say I am a three now. Sometimes a four, but never a five.
I actually have an opinion and a self now. These were hard to come by, believe me. But I watch those who score five and above make quick decisions and sell it in a way that others just buy it. I can’t do that, even when I am sure I am right. There must be a lack of surety in my voice, because I am hardly ever accepted as an authority, even though I am seen as highly intelligent.
I don’t know how to fix this. Maybe this is a part of my upbringing I cannot fix. Maybe I will figure it out in another 20 years. I am not sure. See, I have the same lack of confidence in myself others must see in my too.
There is another side of this also. I am intelligent and I question. I like to look at all angles before making a decision. I am not good at snap decisions because it takes me a while to weigh all sides. I am cautious by nature and do not do my best work when put on the spot. Perhaps this comes across as lack of confidence.
I have also noted that confident people seem to listen more critically to statements made to them then I do. They seem to listen for errors in statements, no matter how minor, and I tend to listen for truths on which to build. It may seem like a hair-splitting difference, but I see it as much more. If you listen for errors, and only point those out, you are listening to tear down and argument. If you listen for truths, you are listening to build understanding.
I find myself on the receiving-end of the former quite often, which makes me not want open my mouth…ever. I find myself quite often doing the latter. In my opinion, by doing the former, you put others on the defensive. I hate being on the defensive. I was raised on the defensive 100% of the time. I don’t want to put others on the defensive any more than I want to be on the defensive. But maybe I need to.
Perhaps I have just stumbled on to the answer:
1) Speak less often, and when I do, speak to my audience (knowing how they are listening).
2) Listen more critically more often.
3) Learn how to bounce off the defensive ropes and come out unphased and swinging.
Whatever the answer, it is most assuredly a lifelong battle.
I will start here.