Do you doubt your abilities or skills in your workplace? Do you wonder if you’re as effective or as productive as you should be? Good! You my friend have just identified a strength.
I bet that comes as ironic because perhaps seen your lack of confidence as a weakness. I mean after all, how can self-doubt be good? Well, read on and see if what I’ve got to say doesn’t make you change your point of view.
Think of doubt as your instincts kicking in when you’ve got a decision to make. Should I choose one thing over another, or even when presented with several options and having to make the best choice. Some people confidently make a choice and stick by their decision, sure in their ability to make the correct one. You however, are less sure, so you pause, hesitating while you think and weigh the pros and cons of the choices before you and even as you make your choice, an inner voice is crying out, “Wait! Not all the information has been processed yet and we might be wrong!”
Now if the top prize always goes to the person who makes the quickest decision, sure the confident person might win more than they lose. However, even the most confident person will tell you that their confident decisions turn out to be incorrect every so often.
Self-doubt is a good thing if it causes us to check on the information we already have or gather more information when necessary to make the best choices. So if you teach or instruct, you may doubt your ability to communicate a topic to your audience; to get through to the extent you’d like. The ideal thing to do is to check with those you’re teaching; essentially determining if you’re being as effective as you’d like or as your employer expects. Checking with your audience might be done verbally as in asking for them to paraphrase what they’ve learned, or it could be in the form of a test. Have you ever considered that tests don’t only show what someone has learned but also show the ability of the teacher to instruct? It’s true!
Self-doubt can also benefit you if you are feeling pressured into doing something that goes against your moral compass. Ever had one of those moments when you were dared to do something that you just felt was wrong? You wanted perhaps to impress someone or a group, but to do so meant hurting someone intentionally? You doubted your ability to actually do it though and said something like, “I don’t know if I can do this. It just seems wrong.” That was self-doubt kicking in and it was a good thing back then and it’s still a good thing today.
Now while self-doubt is a good thing; a strength, in its extreme, it can be a negative. When self-doubt has you completely paralyzed, unable to go ahead and make any choice at all, that frozen state of inaction that robs you of your ability to choose is not a good thing.
If you know you have to compile a report for your boss by a certain date and you’re completely at doubt about if you can do it, it will definitely be an issue if the day comes and you haven’t even started. However, I don’t think that’s just self-doubt kicking in, that’s also the fear of asking for help until you gain the confidence to do similar reports on your own in the future. Not everybody learns at the same pace, and you might need more help before mastering the skills needed to compile reports on your own.
Of course self-doubt takes energy. Many who doubt themselves wish they had more self-confidence, especially when it comes to big choices and big decisions. I have to say though, at the root of this self-doubt there’s often an explanation for this present behaviour in the past. Many who continually doubt themselves had little praise, support and encouragement from people in influential positions while growing up – parents, teachers, employers and yes former/present partners.
An abusive partner who constantly looks for every opportunity to be critical and demeaning, can unfortunately cause a lot of damage in a person. If you were told all the time, “This coffee tastes like crap!” you’d start to doubt your ability to make a good one. This lack of confidence and heightened self-doubt is a cruel result of bullying and abuse. In fact, if you as a co-worker or boss find you’ve got an employee who seems plagued with self-doubt, you could help them immensely with some encouragement to make choices and not come down hard on them when they make a choice you’d rather they didn’t. Words of encouragement will do more to achieve the desired result than any words said in anger and frustration. In fact, just by being such a person’s boss, your title alone is something they’ll feel intimidated by.
Good advice? Start with small decisions; those with small consequences. If you can, look for work that might have less responsibility for decision-making; at least until your self-doubt gradually subsides. Increasing your confidence is also something you might share with others, so you receive encouragement more often. Remember self-doubt is a strength and can often have you re-evaluate your thinking and come up with a better result.
All the best out there today and every day!