By | Julia Galef | www.cnbc.com
Confidence is one of those words that we use to mean different things without even realizing it.
One is what psychologists call “epistemic confidence,” or certainty. How sure you are about what’s true? If you say, “I’m 99% positive he’s lying” or “I guarantee this will work,” you’re displaying epistemic confidence.
Then there’s “social confidence,” or self-assuredness. When you’re in a group setting, do you act like you deserve to be there, like you’re secure in yourself and in your role? If you speak as if you’re worth listening to, you’re displaying social confidence.
Why social confidence is more valuable
We tend to conflate both types of confidence. It’s easy to picture, for example, a leader pumping up his team with an inspiring pep talk about how there’s no doubt in his mind that they’re going to succeed. It’s also easy to picture someone lacking in both types, stammering nervously, “Uh, I’m not really sure what we should do here.”
But epistemic confidence and social confidence don’t have to be a package deal. In fact, some of the most successful — and likable — people have more of the latter.