Confidence Dichotomy
February 8, 2024 6:42 AM   Subscribe

In social and professional contexts I sort of two major personalities. I'm confident talkative, decisive, 'leader-ish' with folks, friends, colleagues who are less confident, more quiet, less outgoing (think tech, offs-shore, etc), but quiet, kind wait my turn for folks when they are confident, aggressive, polished, etc. (think strategy consultants, sales folks etc). I'd prefer to project more confidence with the latter group and potentially tone it down for the first group. Any strategies on doing so?
posted by sandmanwv to Work & Money (2 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Spend some time reflecting and feeling into your body and noticing your thoughts in each group to understand what comes up for you in each group. For example do you feel like you can dominate the first group but not the second? And why do you need to dominate? Do you have something to prove? What are you emotionally trying to get out of the interaction? What is your experience with authority and status? Do you have any shame spots in regards to knowledge or experience?

I’m throwing some ideas out there and hopefully others can expand.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:29 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

Are you familiar with the Parent-Adult-Child model of what is known as "transactional analysis"? I've found it helpful for similar situations.

I'll give only a brief summary, since all I know is from one (rather good) course...

The labels are a bit confusing - they're labels for ways of communicating, not maturity levels. You can expect yourself to be in all three at different times.

----- quick description of the three modes -----

Parent 'mode' is the authoritative one; think "should" and "always" and in particular, all the things you've heard your parents/authority figures say all your life and now find yourself repeating. It also includes nurturing and affirming (the more positive sides of parenting).

Child 'mode' again has two sides: both a playful, spontaneous one and a resistant / recalcitrant "don't tell me what to do" one.

Adult 'mode', finally, is in between. I'd call it 'cooperative'. (There's only one Adult mode.)

----- how they interact -----

The two combinations which feel most natural are, as you might expect, Parent-and-Child and Adult-and-Adult.

We tend to be so accustomed to working in these combinations that behaving as a Parent kind of "invites" the other to take the Child position, and vice versa. The only symmetrical interaction is between two Adults.

(This one is pretty easy to see if, for a second, we do take the labels literally and imagine person A telling person B "you shouldn't do that!" - it will be extremely tempting for person B to respond in a childish (and Childish) manner.)

----- how this applies to your situation -----

If I look at the situations you described through this lens, I'm not seeing a dichotomy; in both cases, I see Parent-Child interactions; it's just that the roles are reversed. It's two sides of the same coin. It sounds like you'd prefer to have less Parent-Child interactions and more Adult-Adult ones.

Fortunately, this model doesn't just explain what you've observed but also makes it easier to identify what to do about it. I'd recommend checking out some resources on this Parent-Adult-Child thing and figuring out what your Parent and Child behaviors look like. Similarly, have a look at examples of Adult behaviors and see how that might work for you.

With that knowledge, you can start 'tuning' your behavior away from Parent/Child and towards Adult. You'll usually find that those you're interacting with will automatically shift their behavior to match.

You can also play with this in the other direction (and it can be fun to see just how much people are inclined to follow these patterns). While talking to the less confident people, see if by going into Child mode you can get them to take a more prominent role. (Maybe something recalcitrant/playful like "Okay, I'm tired of this project. My next presentation will just be cat pictures.")

----- my experiences -----

I've found this model to be useful in explaining how my approach to things was influencing others. That new awareness helped me to choose an approach that fit my intentions. I got a lot out of specific examples of phrases that 'scream' Parent or Adult, so I knew what to avoid and what to replace it with.
posted by demi-octopus at 1:31 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]

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