Self-confidence Done Right

September 27, 2021

Self-confidence Done Right

In the previous post, your self-confidence blind-sided you when trying to solve a problem with your colleagues. You thought you had a solution but nobody would implement.

What went wrong?

Well, there were a couple of things:

You assumed leadership: Normally, it’s a good thing to have someone in the group who wants to take ownership of the problem and come up with a solution. But because you are all peers, your automatic assumption that you were the leader (implied: the boss) was unwarranted.

Didn’t ask others’ opinions: With Ken’s objections (church commitments and babysitting), you handled them on their face value—that is, problems to be solved on the way to your solution. You didn’t consider whether his objections possibly reflected a more general feeling of discomfort with your proposed approach.

You didn’t check for level of support for your idea: I think it is evident that at least some in the group didn’t buy your idea because they refused to implement it. If you’d surfaced these objections in the meeting, things might have gone better.

Self-confidence done right

Let’s replay the meeting from the last post to get a better outcome.

You:So, guys, I’ve been thinking about the scheduling problem. I’ve got an idea—mind if I float it?You are acting as equal to everyone else by asking permission to move forward.
Ken:Sure. I’m drawing a blank.Don’t need to get formal—nods, etc. are enough.
You:As I see it, if everybody was willing to rotate through the dog shifts—like 6 p.m.-to-closing and Sunday afternoon—the problem would go away. What do you think? Two crucial differences from last time—you said if people were willing rather than assuming their consent and you asked their opinion.
Ken:But I can’t ever do Sunday because I’ve got church commitments.
You:Okay, so that needs to be taken into account. Any other issues?You acknowledged that others could and should have an opinion.
Claire (co-worker): Yeah, I don’t think rotation will work.Do NOT be defensive.
You:Oh, okay. Why do you say that?
Claire:I think it will mess up everybody’s lives. I’d rather know I have Sunday for the next month and plan that way.Don’t automatically defend your approach. Let somebody else take the lead.
Ken:But I can’t ever do Sunday afternoons.
Claire:Oh, yeah, right. But you could do the evening rotation?
Ken:Yeah, I probably could manage that.

This conversation is likely to go on for a bit with others expressing their views and the group figuring out how to adjust your approach to fit everyone. Sometimes that is possible, and sometimes it’s not. However, the point here is that you and the group are working collectively on a solution.

Why does it matter?

It’s not that you couldn’t have pushed your solution through—in fact it’s what you did in the first post. But as you saw, in your enthusiasm to get things accomplished, you didn’t bother to craft a joint plan and people either dragged their feet in implementation or didn’t do it at all. So, all you’ve done is waste time as you and the group will have to rehash the issue, probably now in an environment of some tension and even resentment.

Your self-confidence can be very positive at work, but the point is not to overwhelm people with your dynamism. Instead, use your natural enthusiasm to energize the group and help them to a good solution.

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