- Confidence feels good, is attractive, and makes us better at tasks.
- The confidence-competence loop is a virtuous cycle, but breaks down in interpersonal or group settings.
- In interpersonal or group situations, the relationships are more important than the tasks.
- So, instead of encouraging people with, "You got this," try instead, "I got you."
Obviously, confidence is something we want.
We feel better when we're confident, we're a more attractive job candidate (or date candidate), and confidence makes us better at nearly everything that we do.
But we also want those we care about to have it as well: our children, our students, and our employees.
So, we encourage them by saying phrases like, "You got this!"
It's not your fault. Everyone does it. That's because we've all been taught this diagram called the confidence/competence loop. Here it is.
For the unindoctrinated, the loop works as follows: The more competent you are, the more success you have, and the more confident you become. Which, in turn, boosts your belief in yourself and makes you more competent. It's a virtuous cycle.
So, I guess it makes sense that we would try to boost others' confidence with words of encouragement. I'm reminded of a Rob Schneider character's catchphrase, "You can do it!"
The problem is that the confidence loop only explains the confidence cycle for individuals, not for interpersonal or group settings. When others are involved, the whole picture of confidence changes. Let's take a look.
Starting with a simple concept of what confidence actually is: an expectation of success. As a confident individual, I expect to have success with the task at hand. If I fail then I'll just try again until I do succeed. Yay for confident me.
The problem is that there are two different types of success: "task success" and "relationship success." Will I win the game? is a task-success question. Will you still be there if I lose? is a relationship-success question. Which one feels more significant? Which one matters more to you?
In interpersonal settings, the success of the relationship matters more than the success of the task. If I fail at my task, then I'm only letting myself down. But if I fail at our task, then I'm letting you down. I'm not OK with that.
If I think that losing the game will cause everyone to turn their backs on me, then I will not perform at a high level because the stakes are too high. If I think that messing up a project will get me fired, then I will not perform at a high level because the stakes are too high. That's not confidence, that's fear.
That's why I say in my speeches: "Stop telling people, 'You got this.' Instead, tell them what they really need to hear: 'I got you.'"
I call this the Connection-Confidence Loop and it works like this.
True confidence is the freedom to fail and the expectation that our relationships won't be damaged when we do.
Almost every truly confident person has someone who supports them unconditionally and independently of their win/loss track record. Be an unconditional supporter of someone else. Let them know, "Hey, you've got this. And if even you don't, then I've got you."
ACTION: If you have an unconditional supporter, then take a moment to send them a quick thank you for encouraging you to fly and then being there to catch you when you fall.
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