Confidence, Extraversion & Understanding – What Helps You The Most?
Written in collaboration with John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at OPP
Politicians are known for their confidence, but sometimes this can get them into hot water (I’m sure that you can think of some recent examples). You can probably think of a time where you saw someone who seemed to use confidence to cover up a lack of ability.
But confidence isn’t just important for politicians, as this article by Laura Barton points out. Women tend to be less confident in their abilities than men. In fact, studies have shown that less able men are the group most likely to overestimate their abilities.
Are Extraverts more confident than Introverts?
Confidence isn’t the same thing as Extraversion, but they’re often mistaken for one another.
In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain cites a study by the Kellogg School of Management, finding that in an average large meeting, three people do 70% of the talking.
Those three people aren’t necessarily the most confident people in the meeting, but by their saying more they will tend to seem more confident. Their ideas and suggestions get more airtime. And good ideas that others may have are less likely to be heard. It can even seem that the people not doing the talking are disengaged, less creative, or less intelligent.
Humans, chimps and theory of mind
One of the things that sets us and chimpanzees apart from all other animals is our possession of atheory of mind. Theory of mind is made up of two things:
- the ability to credit mental states to ourselves
- the ability to understand that others have beliefs, desires, intentions, and perspectives that are different from our own.
However, this sometimes means that we judge others unfairly. To correct this, it we can boost our self-awareness as well as our understanding of other people.
And one of the best ways to do this is to understand what makes us tick.
We need to understand our personality.
There are many exercises you can do to boost self-awareness and assessments you can take to understand your personality better. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) assessment is one that gives us an effective way of improving our self-awareness, as well as starting to understand others.
The MBTI model seems simple. After all, it’s just four dimensions of personality.
But it builds into a rounded, foundational picture of the individual. And since there’s always a feedback part to Myers-Briggs interpretations, it invites you to think about how you’re different from other people. Different in a positive way.
Since becoming aware of their MBTI type, our research has found that people feel that they capitalize more on their strengths (85% of respondents), are more confident at work (67%) and in their personal lives (72%), and feel that they make better decisions (61%)*.
Testimony of an occasional Extravert
Let me give you a personal example. I’m definitely someone who approaches life from an Introverted point of view. I can spend many hours (days even) enjoying the exciting world inside my head. Yet in some circumstances (for example, in an idea-generating, brainstorming session) I can seem like the embodiment of Extraversion.
An understanding of MBTI type has helped me to reconcile these apparently opposing aspects of my personality. Knowing about personality type has also helped me to understand why some people have a very different way of approaching things than I do. Why, for example, they may need to talk out their decisions. Or why they may have very different needs.
Lastly, MBTI type knowledge gives me guidance on how I can (if I want to) adapt my behavior.
Confidence can be a useful attribute to have. Sometimes it might even be essential. But our degree of confidence is only a small part of who we are.
Similarly, Extraversion or Introversion considered in isolation do not paint a full picture of our behavior. When you get down to it, understanding our whole personality is the greatest gift we can receive.
It gives us the tools to look beyond what we first see in other people. And it allows us to adapt our own behavior.
Want to learn more about the research referenced? Check out our other webinars.
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