Confident = Adaptable

Isn’t it interesting that the most confident among us are also the most readily adaptable? 

Background

You’ve had this experience. You’re involved in a group activity in which several approaches have been suggested. Recall who was most insistent that their approach be the one used? Now recall who was the most willing to go with the consensus decision? Which of these people is the most confident?

To answer these questions, let’s explore the various approaches people use in dealing with these uncomfortable situations.

Those who insist

The most insistent in the group are typically the least confident. They either possess a win/lose mindset, they take decisions personally or feel ill-suited to any approach other than their own.

People possessing a win/lose mindset take a hit to their confidence every time they lose. What they’re really fighting for is their right to feel confident, if not superior, to the others in the group.

Others who are insistent may not possess a win/lose mentality. Instead they view the choice of an alternative other than theirs as a personal slight. They may feel that they aren’t respected or aren’t liked. These folks often possess a victim’s mentality. They feel that the world is out to get them. The choice of an alternative other than what they proposed is further evidence of their victim status.

The other reason why people fight so vigorously for their approach is that they feel ill-equipped to function well in any alternative other than the one they proposed. Just as with the other two types that insist upon having their way, these folks demonstrate a lack of confidence.

Those who cave

Some in the group cave to the most insistent because they despise confrontation. To put a new spin on an old adage, they’d rather switch than fight. The fact that they’re willing to acquiesce to those more insistent doesn’t mean that they like it or that they won’t harbor resentment for long periods of time; they often do.

Their willingness to cave in order to avoid confrontation is an indication of a lack of confidence in their ability to influence others’ thinking without creating resistance. For if they were able to avoid creating resistance, there would be no confrontation.

Those who adapt

The least vocal in the group, the ones who are more likely to suggest a blend of alternatives, are the most confident in the group. They are confident in their ability to adapt as needed to produce a successful outcome regardless of the approach employed.

These folks do not possess a win/lose mentality. They do not feel that choices made reflect on them personally. They don’t fear confrontation. Indeed, they are confident in their ability to influence others which is why the blended alternatives they suggest are so often adopted.

These are the people who, after the work is done, often receive expressions of gratitude from other members of the group for having assured a successful result.

For you

When involved in a decision over alternative approaches to a project, look for ways to blend the approaches in a way that each of the parties feel that they’ve contributed to the consensus approach. You’ll dramatically shorten the decision-making cycle and reduce the likelihood that ill feelings will result from the choice made.

For our kids

When you see kids insisting upon things being done their way, help them understand that the most confident, the most self-assured, the most successful among us are those who are able to adapt most easily. They are also the ones who possess the greatest influence. 

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I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts in a comment.

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2 Responses

  1. bill prenatt

    Dale, Well done article on Confident = Adaptable. An interesting perspective for group dynamice!

    • dfurtwengler

      Thanks Bill. The idea came from a conversation with a person who had just experienced the dynamic with all three elements involved. The person relating the story was the one who adapted and brought consensus to the effort.

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