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Question for confident people

  1. Dec 12, 2008 #1
    How do confident people act when dealing with a situation that they have no experience in?

    I'm a young guy and I have a problem with my low confidence. I'm often unsure with my opinions, thoughts and decisions. The reason why I can't be sure of anything is because I see that I can NEVER be perfect at anything! Doesn't matter how good I am at something, I could be wrong. Being young (25) doesn't help either since I don't have a lot of knowledge about things.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2008 #2
    I'd think it would be obvious, they act confidently.
  4. Dec 12, 2008 #3
    They act confidently knowing that they don't have the required knowledge to make the correct decision or do the right thing? If this is the case, then a confident person decision is just as good as the decision of a person with low confidence because both has the same amount of knowledge about the situation. The only difference is one person is feeling unsure and fearful of he/her decision while the other feels good.

    I can't never act confidently at something that I don't know because why should I be confident at it when I know nothing of it? Is this a healthy way of thinking? I'm doubting myself as you can see :)

    I'm just trying to see how confident people think.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2008
  5. Dec 12, 2008 #4
    Confident people don't mind being wrong. If your plan is to go into science, accept the fact that you will be wrong very often.

    A guy who is confident about his lady skills doesn't go home and cry when a girl rejects him. A person who is confident can laugh at their own mistakes, i.e. laughing when you do something embarrassing instead of running away.
  6. Dec 12, 2008 #5
    Yes. Because they know that failure is, in the vast majority of human endeavors, not that big a deal. So stop worrying about it. Confidence isn't thinking you are better at something than you are. It's not being worried about what you aren't good at.

    Not necessarily. The person with confidence is more likely to at least make a decision. Confidence is an attitude. Prowess is a separate trait altogether.

    I would say it is an unhealthy way of thinking. As I said above, confidence isn't about prowess. You are unconfident because you are afraid of the consequences of poor performance. A confident person is not.

    Also, distinguish between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is believing you are good at something that you are not. It is different from confidence.
  7. Dec 12, 2008 #6
    EDIT: looks like you beat me to it, Nietzsche. haha... great minds think alike, you know :cool:

    I think you misunderstand what confidence is, Dave. Confidence isn't about thinking that you're never wrong or that you can do anything (that's just being delusional); confidence is knowing that if you do fail, you will learn from your mistake and come out the better for it, and that you'll have a better chance of figuring it out next time.

    This is why confident people seem fearless: they just don't care if they fail; they see failure as another step towards success.

    Nobody is perfect at anything. I remember reading in a Discover mag a few months ago how Einstein's papers were had many mathematical errors... but guess what, Einstein's "imperfect" theories sure beat everyone else's non-attempts!

    From your own example: yes, you can keep all your opinions to yourself for fear they might be wrong, and never risk looking dumb. OR: you can express yourself and engage in interesting discussions, and come out learning new things and refining your ideas.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2008
  8. Dec 12, 2008 #7
    I'm not arrogant, I'm just that good.....:cool:
  9. Dec 12, 2008 #8
    There is a difference between people who are confident and people who act confident. Most of the supposedly confident people you see are likely people who are, in reality, insecure and so act as though they know what they are saying and doing. Some people are good at this and gamble well on their choices but tend to eventually show that they have no idea what they are doing or talking about, possibly to their detriment.
    People who really are confident wont likely gamble unless they have to. A truely confident individual does not see their lack of knowledge as a failure. This person will admit their ignorance and do something about it instead of pretending knowledge they do not possess.
  10. Dec 12, 2008 #9
    Like I said. Distinguish between confidence and arrogance.

    To quote a song by a musician I hate (but which has IMO one of the most inspiring, albeit sappy, music videos ever)

  11. Dec 12, 2008 #10


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    I'd be pretty much echoing what most people have said in this thread but here we go:

    The best way to get confidence in something is just to engage in it and see how you go. In my opinion the people that are confident are not the ones standing on a stage showing off their superiority. They are often the ones who have been through the trenches and the ones who step up to the plate when they need to give someone a hand. They know the difference between what they know via experience and via "shared" experience (ie what they have been told, read about etc) versus what they infer to know based on their own experiences.

    Typically confident people will know their own boundaries and be willing to freely admit their own faults. On the other hand arrogant people don't usually have boundaries and can lead people to believe that they know more than they make out to or should make out to.

    If people put you down for no real reason, usually they are not very confident people. It's usually easy after a while to see someone for their knowledge (especially in a forum like this) because there are a lot of confident helpfull people that can tear the imposters apart.

    My advice is that if you do want confidence (and you end up taking the leap in whatever area in your life be it physics, sport, something more adventurous etc), then just remember that when the next guy come alongs that emphasizes how you were, (ie a little lost in a way), then remember what it was like for you. The real confident people are usually good people (and they often put themselves at risk because of what they believe in).

    If you are (or become) confident then I guarantee their will be times when you have to do what you really believe in. If you become confident and progress through social ranks then you will be tested. The real confidence in this situation will come out because you may have to make decisions that not only effect you, but also effect other people. Now that my friend takes way more confidence than pursuing something on your own.

    Also I remember Descartes saying something along the lines you said. But really how wrong is wrong? If something moves according to s = ut + 1/2at^2 at least at low velocities its close enough ;). We may not be completely right but at the same time we all have to take a stand and have some confidence to say "well we've done this and I'm pretty sure at least according to what we know about gravity that this building will withstand 1000N of force" etc. If people didn't make decisions everyone would be stuck in analysis paralysis. I couldn't imagine a world like that ;)
  12. Dec 12, 2008 #11
    david90: first off, you asked this question to the wrong crowd.. but it'll do.

    thing is, don't overthink a situation. you go into it knowing that you'll do just fine. be prepared for it. and assure yourself that you are making the correct decision. if it's the wrong decision, so be it.. learn from it and do better next time.

    you definitely sound like a guy with low confidence, but the key is to build yourself up. start small. i used to have a problem talking out loud.. i felt like i studdered.. still do sometimes.. but i started reading books outloud to myself to practice.. and i'd talk with friends more.. and i just got better through practice.

    talking with women used to be a big problem for me also.. but you start small.. you talk to women at grocery stores, book stores, check out lines, fast food places.. and you get a feel for how they react to what you are saying and how you are saying it... just practice things man.. no one is perfect, but you can always get better through practicing it.

    obviously if you are unsure of something, ask someone for a second opinion, but don't be scared or timid, you probably have the education and experience necessary to make a sound decision on your own.
  13. Dec 12, 2008 #12
    Was such a childish opening really necessary?

    Reminds me of a day in my modern physics class some years ago, when a friend of mine and I (both of us physics majors) were discussing the upcoming department soccer game (which was held every friday afternoon). One of the electrical engineering majors in the class started cracking jokes about the sight of a bunch of physics majors trying to play soccer. My friend and I both turned at looked at him. My friend, a 6'2" Army seargant at the time, and myself a 6'1" tennis player. My point is that stereotypes are for the intellectually lazy.

    Everything else in your post though, I'm ok with.
  14. Dec 12, 2008 #13
    Or comedians, they make their living off of stereotypes.

    I personally think confidence comes with experience. As you grow older, you begin to understand what are the things you're good at, and what your limits are.
  15. Dec 12, 2008 #14
    I think it was fine. Stereotypes often have a basis in reality. Whether from choice or not, scientists often do not have the same opportunities available to develop the necessary social skills which are related to the ability to appear confident.

    I differ from some others on the point that I believe that an "appearance" of confidence is perfectly acceptable substitute for actual confidence in most cases.

    One must also consider the fact that practice makes perfect.
  16. Dec 12, 2008 #15
    What is this "wrong" you speak of? I just have varying degrees of being right!
  17. Dec 12, 2008 #16
    I'm not sure if I can call myself a confident person, but in situations like that, I simply act like I know exactly what I'm doing.
  18. Dec 12, 2008 #17


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    I'm not sure what confidence has to do with it. If you're stuck in a situation that you have no experience in, your only realistic choice is to get pretty smart in it, pretty quick. How you do that doesn't matter (ask for help, read a book, etc). You'll find that an ability to learn something quickly is a better quality than knowing a lot of stuff (although the second, called experience, comes in pretty handy).

    I'm pretty confident I can eventually figure out what I'm supposed to be doing.

    The fun situations are the little tasks you get where you look at them and think, "I don't even know what questions to ask!" A little patience and persistence, plus having been in that situation before helps.
  19. Dec 12, 2008 #18
    I found out during my second year of college that this is a talent I am very good at. The only problem is I need a motivation to learn, hence my poor grades in boring classes.

    I wonder what generally comes first, success then confidence, or confidence then success? It probably works both ways I suppose assuming your not a confident idiot.
  20. Dec 12, 2008 #19
    That, franznietzsche, is both eloquently and brilliantly stated.

    I would add to preexisting comments and say that, sometimes, developing confidence is an exercise in "acting as if". This shouldn't be mistaken with arrogance, because it doesn't apply to situations in which direct knowledge of a specific subject may be called upon. For instance, don't act as if you're a math genius if you aren't or that you know how to repair a car if you don't. You'll get caught out pretty quickly.

    But if you want to, say, be able to walk into a room without feeling self-conscious, then act as if that's actually how you feel until you do feel that way. And it will come. Any time you enter a room full of people, square your shoulders, hold your head high, enter the room, stop, and look around you before proceeding in. Eventually, it'll become second nature, and part of your behaviour, and you'll be confident in that activity.

    It also tends to be one of the advantages of age and time that you become comfortable in your own skin. You're actually okay with who you are. And that's confidence.
  21. Dec 13, 2008 #20


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    Confidence is knowing what you can't do.
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