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Confidence: The surprising truth about how much you need and how to get it Paperback – 8 December 2013
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<i>Confidence</i> nails it - read this book and you will never look at the concept of self-esteem the same way again -- Laura Vanderkam
Persuasive ... fantastically sensible -- Lucy Kellaway ― Financial Times
I can't remember the last time I finished reading a book and wanted to applaud. <i>Confidence </i>is a life-changing book - it will convince you -- Heidi Grant Halvorson
Maybe you have always intuited, as most sensitive people do, that all the talk about boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem is not the answer to success or happiness. This charming and thoroughly fact-based book will give you the evidence to back your wisdom, that being kind and competent works best.<b></b> -- Elaine Aron, author of 'The Highly Sensitive Person' and 'The Undervalued Self'
- Publisher : Profile Books; Main edition (8 December 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1781251975
- ISBN-13 : 978-1781251973
- Item Weight : 200 g
- Dimensions : 13 x 2 x 20 cm
- Country of Origin : United Kingdom
- Generic Name : Book
- Best Sellers Rank: #344,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The author challenges conventional human resources management and talent management wisdom by arguing for selecting and keeping employees that lack confidence ; and that this will spur employees to become more competent which, in turn, leads to higher levels of confidence. Chamorro-Premuzic asserts in his reasonably easy to read and well researched 221-page analysis, plus 24-pages of bibliographic references or Notes, that to build lasting competence, the best way to do this is through maintaining low--rather than high--levels of employee confidence. His main argument here is that high levels of confidence essentially blocks opportunities for self-improvement. Further, ample reseach and much anacdotal evidence suggests that low confidence is a major driver of change. And correspondingly, change precipitates competence enhancement.
In addition to the core message or theme of the book--competence trumps confidence--the author chronicles how to take advantage of low self-confidence ; manage ruputations ; boost careers and a sence of security ; enhance inter-personal skills and self-esteem ; and lead a healthy life. This inciting and though provoking book will be of interest to readers attracted to the convergent notions of competence, confidence, self-esteem, and insecurity. The book should attract professionals whose work includes leadership, management, careerism, and interpersonal transactions tied to success outcomes.
But here is a question. Is it true that confidence brings us success?
A lot of research has been done on the subject, and the short answer is no. In fact, having too much confidence can, and probably will, hurt you.
For one, just what exactly is meant by confidence? The way it is presented to us, being confident usually means believing that we have something good about us. When I feel confident that I can accomplish some task, it means that I believe that I have all the necessary resources, skills and qualities required to do it. If I feel confident in social situations, it means that I believe myself sufficiently charming, handsome and socially adjusted to make people like me, even adore me. When we feel confident, we feel that there is something good and great about us, and we project this belief upon other people. Your definition of confidence might be different, but the type of confidence I just described above is the type of confidence we are encouraged to have, and it is this type of confidence that is discussed in this book.
The problem with confidence is that having it does not make us more likely to succeed. Quite to the contrary. Feeling confident about our ability to accomplish something does not in any way make us more likely to accomplish it. The opposite is true. When we feel confident in our “victory,” we make little to no effort to prepare ourselves for the upcoming challenges. After all, why waste time on training when you know in advance that you are going to succeed?
And not only feeling confident hurts our chances of succeeding, but if we do fail, we are devastated and we have no plan B. After all, why come up with plan B when we are confident that plan A is going to work?
Having confidence hurts us not only at work and in private projects, but in social life too. In social situations, those who have a lot of confidence are initially liked and attract followers, but once it becomes apparent, and usually it does not take long to become apparent, that those confident people have nothing to back up their confidence, they rapidly lose their popularity and become targets of dislike, derision and avoidance.
Why? Because confidence is interpreted as manifestation of competence. When someone acts confident, we assume them to be competent, or be a great person in some other way. What attracts us to such people is not their confidence per se, but their competence. Confidence is merely an outward sign of competence. Once we discover that someone is confident but incompetent, our opinion of them quickly shifts and we begin to regard them as an arrogant poseur.
Would you want to hang around with some arrogant fool? Me neither.
So what is the answer then? To lack confidence and show to others that we lack it?
When I was reading this book, there were moments when I thought that the author really wants us to do just that. At one point he even praises the benefits of depression.
Well excuse me, but I had some personal experience with depression. I saw it in others and I experienced it in myself. Depression is a mental illness and there is nothing beneficial in it. True, when you are depressed, you do not appear to be an arrogant poseur, but if you are depressed being arrogant is the least of your problems.
Having said that, what we should do is act humble, question ourselves, and indeed be, at least in private, a little bit unsure of ourselves. True, when we lack confidence, at the most extreme, we might take it for granted that we are going to fail and quit before we even try, but most of the time, and I am speaking here from personal experience, what we do is simply try harder. We make extra effort, we research and prepare more, we train more intensively, and then, when the big moment comes, we are better prepared to handle the challenge.
As we practice and train harder, our competence increases. But this confidence is not the fake, forced confidence that we are encouraged to display, but the natural confidence that comes from the fact that we know for sure that we can pull it off.
I will give you a personal example. Back when I was a student, I used to have excellent grades. The reasons for that were varied, but I believe that the main reason was that I paid attention in class, took detailed notes and studied diligently. But my teachers and parents, when they saw my good grades, didn’t compliment me on my study habits. No, they praised me on how smart I was. As a result, eventually I became convinced that my good grades were the result not of hard work, but of my genius. (I am not kidding. I really thought of myself as a genius.) And being a genius, I didn’t need to study anymore because, brilliant as I was, I was sure to easily pass all my assignments and tests.
Well, it didn’t take long before my grades started to slide. I was not failing, but I became an average student. My As became Bs and Cs. At first I was rationalizing it to myself and coming up with excuses, but eventually my self-esteem could no longer take the blows. My confidence plummeted and I had to acknowledge to myself that I was not a genius and that if I wanted my grades to rise, I had to work hard and study. I lost my confidence in my brilliance, but in retrospect it was a good thing, because my grades started improving again.
I’m sure that if you look back at your life, you will find instances where you were confident of yourself, and it ended up working against you. But in retrospect, failing might have been precisely what you needed, because it motivated you to try harder next time.
Humility is good in social situations too. No one likes arrogant people too full of themselves. In fact, I believe that back in the old days excessive confidence was called pride, and it was classified as one of the seven deadly sins. Humility was one of the seven virtues, on the other hand.
Granted, appearing confident can make you popular in the very short term, but this won’t last if you do not demonstrate competence or some other ability to justify your confidence. Therefore, if you are meeting someone with whom you expect to have a longer relationship, it is better to be reserved and humble.
Of course, there are different degrees of confidence and self-doubt. At one extreme, people who are too confident slide into full blown narcissism and become enraged when someone dares to questions their confidence. Those with zero confidence risk sliding into apathy and depression and give up before they even try. The overall conclusion is not to focus on being confident or humble, but to focus on being competent, always seeking self-improvement and avoiding bragging about our successes. Let our accomplishments speak for themselves.
That is more or less the message of this book. But this book is not some philosophical essay on the virtues of humility written by some moralist who decries the narcissism of Western society. The author bases his conclusions on countless psychological and social studies and experiments. Time after time, the results came back the same—confidence, if not backed up by genuine competence, is unproductive at best, and destructive at worst.
Most of these studies have been conducted in U.S., and a lot of the subjects were college students. American society is probably the most narcissistic society on the planet, and college students (I say this from personal experience) are probably the most self-centered of all the social groups in America. If the most narcissistic social group in the most narcissistic country in the world finds confidence to be overrated, what do other humbler people and cultures think of it?
Queste sono le facili promesse che ci rimbombano nelle orecchie cui seguono, però, scottanti delusioni.
Per l'autore, infatti, la confidenza è il risultato della competenza e non il contrario!
Purtroppo molti sono invece i narcisisti incompetenti, la cui competenza non aumenta anche perché sono convinti di essere già al top.
Come recita un antico koan giapponese, è la consapevolezza di non essere all'altezza che mi fa salire ogni giorno più in alto!
There are many contradictions in the book. A key argument he makes is that competence matters more than confidence. Later however, he argues that most managers would prefer to promote a fun but mediocre employee over a boring but more skilled employee. So in that later comment, he seems to be saying that most managers would prefer someone who is confident and who can appear "fun".
He says again and again that confidence does NOT matter. Then he goes and says "It is useful to fake confidence because it will make you seem more competent to others." In other words, he says that confidence DOES matter! Two pages later, he changes his mind again and says that "modesty is certainly something you can fake a little to help people perceive you as competent." So he's arguing that you should fake BOTH confidence AND modesty. Isn't that a massive contradiction??
Later, he tells us that we should "Be strategic about the information you choose to convey to others." A paragraph later, he warns to do the opposite: "try not to focus too much on how best to present yourself to others." So which is it? Should I be strategic or not focus on how I present myself?
At one point, he argues that "it is virtually impossible to deliberately boost your social confidence." But that's simply not true! The whole point of cognitive behavior therapy is to boost social confidence. It's like he's giving a kick in the teeth to anyone who has ever had CBT with the aim of becoming socially more confident.
In summary, I found the book full of contradictions and quite frustrating. The main things I don't like about the book:
1) He argues one thing but then changes his mind to argue the opposite.
2) He sometimes argues a certain point of view but only in an academic fashion. He then gives little to no advice on how to achieve what he says is important. This book is NOT practical.
3) He keeps telling us that we don't need confidence and I found it a smug point of view. I DO want to feel less nervous. I DO want to feel less tense in meetings when I know I'm expected to speak up. So this book fails in that it doesn't give me practical advice on how to feel less anxious.
I've read far, far better books on confidence.