What’s the difference between confidence and arrogance? To quote one of my mentors, Dr. Alan Weiss, ‘Confidence is having the ability, or the knowledge that you have something of value worth sharing and that you are always open to learning about other things. Arrogance, on the other hand, is feeling you have something of value to add, but that there is nothing more for you to learn.’
There’s a difference between how much am I willing to learn and how much I already know. A person who’s arrogant says, ‘I know it all, so don’t teach me anything.’ Whereas, somebody who is confident is always open to learning new things.
The reason why I bring up this topic is that I have found, in conversations with leaders that I work with, there is that fine line around, how do I make sure I don’t come across as arrogant? Or, sometimes they are arrogant, or they mean to be more confident, but they come across as arrogant. We need to be conscious as leaders, that in today’s world, it is not possible for us to know everything there is to know about everything.
We actually need to be good at asking questions. We need to be good at actually listening, and we need to be good at learning things, or sometimes we need to unlearn things that we’ve already known.
So, one of the ways, in terms of building our level of confidence is, whenever you have an opinion to give, before giving the opinion, ask questions about the situation so that you understand it a little better. Sometimes it’s easy for us. We hear someone say something, and we go, ‘Oh yeah, here’s what I would do in that situation,’ or, ‘This is what I did when this happened to me.’ So rather than doing that, resist the temptation to jump in with a solution, but instead ask a few questions so that you understand the situation a little better. That’s the first step.
The second step would be to actually ask if they would like an alternative perspective. In other words, before you provide any solution, check that they would like another perspective. Because, sometimes, people are actually hooked on uncommitted complaining, for example, they just love complaining about things. They don’t want to fix things, they just love complaining. So I always make a point of asking, if they want an alternative perspective before I present it.
Third step, if they say yes, then give them your opinion. Give them your perspective. Base it on your experience, or what you heard, or data that you’re familiar with, or research that you’ve come across. Present your point of view. Here’s my point of view and this is why I have that point of view.
The next step after that would be to check in. Does that make sense? What do you think of that? Will that relate to your situation? So again, the ability to help modify, think, and so forth.
The final step is to ensure all those steps are also relevant to you. Be willing to be challenged. Be willing to look at other alternatives, and be willing to explore other points of views so that it broadens your own thinking.
What sort of mindset do you have?