Month: February 2017

In Defense of the Meek, the Timid, and the Quiet

There is a difference between self-confidence and exhibited confidence. One appears inwardly, only seen by the actor. The other appears outwardly, observed and interpreted by those around the actor. Do not confuse someone’s exhibited confidence for their self-confidence. The exhibited confidence is a function of many factors, including other’s interpretation of such confidence. The self-confidence is usually harder to observe, but it is more meaningful and better representative of someone’s beliefs and actions.

When people say that you should be more confident, they usually mean that they want you to appear more confident. This is like saying to someone who looks like they weigh 250 pounds, “I want you to look like you weigh 150 pounds”. There is a lifestyle behind that 250 pounds. You cannot just expect someone to immediately change the surface-level observation of their final weight. You would expect there to be some period of time with deep internal change, like a change in diet, increased physical activity, or name your other weight-loss activity.

“I want you to be more confident.” There is a reason someone exhibits such outward confidence (which may or may not be an indicator of their self-confidence). We shouldn’t just shoehorn everybody into Type A personalities. It’s everyone’s accountability – everyone’s responsibility – to see people for who they are, and learn how to better understand and communicate with them. In doing so, we would be better able to gauge each individual’s self-confidence about their beliefs and actions.

It might be easier to treat everyone as the same foundational being, with their actions interpretable with the same lens across the entire human species. It’s easier, but it’s just wrong.

When our workplaces or other communities say they are seeking Diversity and Inclusion, are they asking for everyone to speak up? Or are they asking everyone to listen carefully to each member? Do we expect everyone else to communicate the same way that we communicate? Or do we start from ourselves, as Single Players, to become better listeners?

Judging and ranking people’s ideas by their voice’s decibel level seems like a silly idea; isn’t it just as silly to treat people who are assertive, charismatic, and loud as being more important than people who are meek, timid, and quiet? What are some examples of less-silly ways of comparing the beliefs and actions of Person Type-A and Person Type-B?