Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Confidence Trick - episode 1

In this new three part series, Laura Barton sets out to examine the increasingly important part confidence appears to play in modern life, at the point when so many of us are beset by problems surrounding our own self-confidence. 

Over the course of the series Laura examines the key role of our background and education in determining our levels of confidence, teasing out the intricate interplay between aspects including class, gender, psychology and even architecture. 

She hears how our inclination to follow those who seem most confident can lead us into dark waters, and looks at the complicated connections between confidence and creativity. 

Laura also explores her own vexed relationship with this commodity that has so often proved elusive in her own life, seeking out an alternative to the brazen, pushy version of confidence that is currently so dominant. 

In the first episode, Laura speaks with the likes of Marina Hyde, Susan Cain, Katty Kay and high-wire walker Chris Bullzini to look at how we have come to be so in thrall to confidence and those most assured of their own opinions. She heads into the workplace to look at the ways the loudest and the cockiest most often rule the roost, and attempts being made to give more space and weight to the voices of those given to quiet reflection in order to maximise their potential contribution. 

Marina Hyde points out that it is surprising how quickly people are to form an opinion and have strong views about things that they know relatively little about. 

Writer and broadcaster Stuart Maconie is of the opinion that, "We've become obsessed with confidence and self-assertion.... it seems to be a new strain in our thinking. Isn't quiet modest competence a better thing?" He believes that confidence comes with knowing that you are doing the right thing. Maconie realises that being at ease in ones own skin is something that is hard acquired and comes with a long experience of doing what we do.

It is not just through the voice that we can give the impression of confidence. Wearing a uniform can instill confidence in people that you know what you are doing. For example, a pilot wearing a pilot's uniform can be deemed more confident than a pilot dressed in shorts and a t-shirt.

You get confidence by doing things that are challenging to you, but once you have done it once, you feel more confident to do it again.

There is research that suggests that you need three women to make a difference. Evidence of women underestimating their abilities is wide ranging. Men tend to overestimate their abilities by about 30%. Women apply for promotions when they have 100% of the skills set whereas men apply for promotions when they have only 60% of the skills set, thinking that they will learn those skills while on the job.

Susan Cain reported that in a typical meeting only 3 people tend to account for 70% of the talking. 

Social media and electronic means of sharing ideas can be a good way to encourage less confident people to participate. They do not need to compete with loud voices and are given credit for what they share - their contributions are in black and white and can be proven.

The first episode ends with a proposition from Susan Cain. She proposes that real confidence is when you know who you are. 

Do you know what kind of life you want to lead? 

Do you know who you are? 

Do you know what kind of decisions you want to make?


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