Fake It Till You Make It; Confidence Is More Important Than Knowledge

Agree or disagree?


Saw this on a site today. I thought it was an interesting claim. IPVM skews on the tech side so it tends to oppose this sentiment but there's clearly some reality in it.

Your thoughts?

This is actually an Amy Cuddy thing. You can find her in a TED Conference video. It is half true. It takes a mix of Fake it till you make it and education. Watch an Amy video and it will make sense from a technique standpoint. I have used her techniques a few times.

AMy Ted Conference Video

At 6:57 in Video

"So my main collaborator Dana Carney, who's at Berkeley, and I really wanted to know, can you fake it till you make it? Like, can you do this just for a little while and actually experience a behavioral outcome that makes you seem more powerful? So we know that our nonverbals govern how other people think and feel about us. There's a lot of evidence. But our question really was, do our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?"

Confidence is a good thing if it helps you avoid falling down the rabbit hole of but-maybeism. Just don't drink your own Kool Aid.

Confidence is king, true. But it is inner-directed confidence in your own abilities to learn, to grow, to get yourself into situations where you can experience and practice a new craft or field - THAT is certianly one of the secrets to success.

Confidence, as in the 'con man' definition, where your skills are in the persuasive manipulation of someone's desire to believe you, call it outer-directed confidence, also requires deep and facile subject matter expertise -- that's the kind of confidence with which you will ultimately fail. Enron and Bernie Madoff are the poster children of that kind of con.

Strongly Disagree. There is no quicker way to lose credibility than talking out of your ass. Confidence is key, but that comes from knowing what you're talking about. You can't fake being knowledgeable.

I agree with Michael Budalich.

"There is no quicker way to lose credibility than talking out of your ass."

Couldn't agree more! But would you agree that

"There is no quicker way to gain credibility than talking out of your ass."

I don't think you would, because you also said:

You can't fake being knowledgeable.

Although I wonder if maybe you can be persuaded, once you take a unemotional look at it, to modify the statement by adding an "always/usually" right after the "can't"? Or even "forever/sometimes" at the end? Or maybe change the "can't" to "shouldn't/needn't" Or?

Because, despite the ringing Adminic endorsement, without modification, I can't fathom what you mean by it. If it were true we wouldn't be having this discussion, no? Or wouldn't have had this one?

Unfairly, "Talking out of one's ass" is often idiomatically conflated with its poor cousin "Running at the mouth". Often overlooked is the fact that ass-emanated speech should not be measured as a scalar quantity: in addition to speed, direction, i.e. at whom is the b.s. aimed, is equally important. So perhaps you are trying to say that "You can't fake being knowledgeable to someone who is more knowledgable." If you add "for long" to that then we might agree after all...

However exuding a modest amount of over-confidence, when your ass is correctly pointed towards a less knowledgable recipient, will usually do more good than harm. If you are also diligently increasing your real knowledge all the while, your ass will become a moving target, and given enough time and learning, you will ultimately have it 'covered'.

And if all that doesn't convince you, consider the fact that actually, I don't know sh*t about talking out of one's ass... :)

While I am generally opposed to such line of thought on philosophical grounds, it is hard to ignore that faking it often 'works'.

The reality is that most buyers / decision makers do not have full information and have difficulty telling if you are better than your competitor if the competitor is an aggressive fake. Yes/no?

but not strongly because in some situations I would agree that confidence is more important.

Confidence is key. Client is going to go with the guy who seems confident in his knowledge, whether it is faked or not. How ever, faking it can get you into heat, and I've seen it happen.

I can agree and disagree with the main topic question. If you have all the knowledge, but no confidence, against a guy with no knowledge and tons of confidence, you might lose the job. Of course it all depends on the client too, some people don't care, they just want the facts.

I agree with it but there's more to it. You can be confident and still tell someone "I don't know but I will get you an answer ASAP" instead of saying "Ya we can do that no problem" without any knowledge.

I witness people faking it and making it every day. We have large customers with people that know very little about what they do and throw their preconceived notions around like absolute truths not to be reckoned with... as long as it is perceived they know what they are doing they get by. Some of these customers appreciate our expertise & knowledge and use it to their benefit and some are threatened by it. I think in large organizations many people fake it and make it daily and once they have held a position they have the ability to switch to another organization in similar field once the pressure gets to them... where they can continue faking it and so on and so on.

With regard to our industry another great example are A&Es and the electrical and low voltage engineers they subcontract. They regularly throw around specs with no meaninful relation to actual customer intent.

Back around to

Confidence is king, true. But it is inner-directed confidence in your own abilities to learn, to grow, to get yourself into situations ...

Never did I say or mean 'make it up' or 'pull it out of your ass' -- lying does NOT work, ever. That's one aspect of the negative 'con' definition of confidence.

Daniel and Jason are on-board with the difference between over-promising versus being confident enough to say, with authority, that there is something that you don't know but can (and will, then do) get back with the answer or solution.

I've found that customers sense and respond better when you confidently set an expectation (even if the solution includes a qualified "I don't know") and then over-achieve on its delivery. Most buyers can sense those who over-confidently sell with undue certainty and fear the words "Let me get back to you on that" as a sign of weakness - they typically under-deliver on the finished project, disappoint and backpedal, and lose out on the long run.

It goes along with the old W.C. Fields quote (and one of my favorites):

“If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bulls..t.”