Confidence vs. Certainty

We all desire to be viewed as competent; knowing exactly what it is we’re supposed to be doing. We want our family, our friends, and our clients to hold us in high regard; to view us as experts in our field.

All too often, in our quest to be viewed as the authority, we confuse confidence with certainty.

Being certain about something means that we’ve done our homework, put in the research, checked it out to the nth degree. We know, with as much accuracy as humanly possible, that we’re correct in our assertions.

Confidence, on the other hand, leaves room for interpretation. Some portion of the unknown is allowed for in our statements. Being confident involves giving our opinion on something rather than proclaiming it as an immutable fact.

Confidence is a difficult trait to master. We’re hardwired to want to present the appearance of certainty in our thoughts and assertions. We hold the erroneous belief that by expressing some doubt, by leaving some margin for us to be proven incorrect, our stature will suffer in the eyes of those around us.

People appreciate humility. When we admit that we’re not certain, that we don’t have all the answers, we allow room for that important empathetic bond to grow. We allow others to see us not as a know-it-all, but as a human being.

It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt.

Maurice Switzer

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