When my son started pre-school and kindergarten, I went to new parent orientation. At those orientations I sat next to parents who told me their questions about the programs. But they never asked the people running the meeting their questions. They wondered in silence, whispering to seat mates who didn’t know any more than they knew. I’m always flabbergasted by these situations until I remind myself that people don’t like to admit they don’t know something. No one wants to look stupid.
Most of us aren’t eager to admit when we don’t know something, need help, or make a mistake. We fear these things will damage our reputation and make us appear less than to others. But neither are true. It takes strength and self confidence to admit mistakes, accept feedback, and ask for help. Strong, self-confident people do all of these things.
When someone who works for me is willing to admit mistakes, I think more of them. When employees ask for help rather than spin their wheels unnecessarily, I’m appreciative. When they’re open to feedback, I’m grateful they’re easy to work with. And the same is likely true for you.
Before launching Candid Culture, I worked with a CEO who frequently lead with, “I may not be the smartest guy in the room, but…” The CEO was trying to appear humble and relatable, but he was the smartest guy in the room and we all knew it, thus his attempts were false and came off as such. Arrogance masquerades as self confidence. People who are arrogant come off as strong and self confident, but it’s a façade.
It may seem like your personal power and reputation will be diminished by admitting mistakes and accepting help. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes strength to say you don’t know how to do something, to embrace feedback that stings, and to admit bad choices. And strong, self-confident people do all of these things, regularly.
You won’t lose credibility or damage your reputation by being humble, instead you’ll be seen as real, relatable, and willing to admit a lack of perfection. And all of those things take strength that ingratiate you to others. So be yourself. Don’t pretend you’re better or more knowledgeable than you are. Authenticity goes a long way.