Are You Displaying the Right Amount of Confidence?

Are You Displaying the Right Amount of Confidence?

Confidence is a wonderful trait when it is used appropriately and at the right time.  But there are situations when confidence is displayed that can get us into trouble and damage our relationships.  So how do we know what is the right time and the amount of confidence to display?

Before we examine the strength of confidence, let me share a brief story about how confidence can be detrimental.  Confidence is in my top three strengths, so I tend to display this strength often and strongly.  I am not even aware when I am using it because it is so integral to who I am as a person.  Usually the strength serves me well because people look to me for guidance and wisdom in the positions I have held in organizations and churches.  However, I can think of many times that my confidence has invited me and others into problems.

Just this past week, I was at a surprise party for a friend turning 60.  The 70 guests that were invited were asked to park around the corner so the cars would be hidden from view, less the surprise be spoiled.  We all did so, even though we had to walk a quarter of a mile in the pouring rain and walk down a muddy dirt road to get to the long driveway that went up a steep hill to where the party was held.  After the party, I retrieved the car and was going to pick up my wife at the house so she wouldn’t have to walk through the mud.  Other people had the same idea so when I got to the top of the driveway, there were several other cars, but I confidently squeezed to the left of all of them and my wife got in the car.  I then confidently began to back up down this long and narrow driveway in complete blackness, the pouring rain, and without the assistance of a backup camera (older car).  The owner had volunteered to back up the car for me, but I confidently assured him that I had it under control.  It wasn’t long before my tires were off the side of the driveway.  What I didn’t know was that the grass was very slippery and was on a steep downslope.  When I turned my wheels, I immediately began to slip and slide down the slope.  I was stuck!  Five men came to my rescue who were equally confident that they could simply push me so I could get back on the driveway that was just feet away.  That ended with people covered in mud as the wheels spun deeper into the muck.  After calling the tow truck and waiting, we learned the tow truck would take hours to arrive (well after 1am in the morning).  We decided to abandon the car and humbly hitch a ride with a gracious guest (guest who turned 60).

Less confidence would have served me well that night and saved us a lot of aggravation.  I learned from the owners that some people who go off that driveway end up on the bottom of that hill in the river!  We were fortunate.  Sometime our confidence gets us into trouble.  It also can get mud on others.

Confidence is a great strength and usually serves me well.  It is a natural RED strength and I use it to keep moving and get things done.  People generally like to be led by people who are confident about their decisions.  Confident people are more likely to try new things and don’t shy away from missing an opportunity.  Confidence is a strength that is useful and serves me well.  I have learned to trust my gut which gives me that confidence and most of the time the results are positive – but not always.

I can think of times when I was confident about a decision but it ended badly.  I led others into trouble.  My confidence has led to great loss in time and money at times.  At other times it has opened huge opportunities that would have been lost because others were fearful and unsure.

Confidence, like other strengths, can be overdone.  Having confidence when you have little information can be problematic and lead to bad results.  Sometimes it would better to have less confidence and be more analytical.  Choosing to do some research and delay a decision might lead to a more satisfactory result.  Knowing when to dial back confidence is a result of relational intelligence.  When you have people around you questioning you or not showing enthusiasm for your confidence, you may want to consider dialing back your natural strength and choosing a different one.

When confidence is overdone, it can be experienced by others as arrogance.  When this happens, you lose your influence and the willingness of others to cooperate with your decisions.  There is a fine line between showing confidence and appearing to be the know-it-all in the room.  Confidence in your own position or how you carry yourself can invite others to question your integrity.  If you are always confident, your demeanor can communicate a closed mind to other people’s ideas.  You can also appear unapproachable and intimidating.  To work more effectively with others there are times when it is wise to dial back your natural strength.

Those of you that don’t have confidence in your top registry of strengths may benefit from using the strength more often.  Bolting on some confidence may help others to take you more seriously or may help you approach a RED with information that is needed to be shared.  Confidence can help you overcome being intimidated in some situations.

And when you observe someone who appears to be extremely arrogant, you may want to consider adjusting your filters.  The person may simply be confident, even if they don’t have all the information that you would need to display the same amount of confidence you are observing.

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.