Confidence has long been treated like an elixir in the workplace. It gives us a boost to demand that pay rise, ask for a promotion or build relationships with co-workers. But while it might seem counterintuitive, a study published in the Harvard Business Review argues that this attribute is overrated in the workplace and that a lack of confidence might actually be the key to a successful career.
According to Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of Business Psychology at the University College London (UCL), the following traits far outweigh overconfidence in the workplace.
"Lower self-confidence reduces the chances of coming across as arrogant," writes Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic. He says that a good attribute of modest, less-confident people is that they’re open about admitting mistakes and are unlikely to take undue credit for other’s work, both attractive qualities in the eyes of an employer.
Here, he says not having an “optimistic bias” is key. Workers who are self-critical are able to evaluate their work and are more receptive to constructive criticism, while those who are overconfident focus only on positive feedback and ignore the negative, hence the bias. He says to be the best in your field, you need to learn to be your hardest critic and take on the advice of others.
Without motivation, Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic stresses that low self-confidence can be detrimental to your career. However, he argues that if you’re willing to work hard you might even supersede those who are confident, because you’ll perceive that you have much farther to go to get that promotion or reach your goal than they do.
So what does this mean for you? In essence, don’t mistake confidence for cockiness. There’s a place for being self-assured but you also need to value the way you’re perceived among your colleagues. Acknowledging that being self-deprecating, encouraging to others, modest and having a strong work ethic is more valuable to an employer than being over-confident might just be what it takes to help you succeed.
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