Confidence is empowering, but it can turn to hubris if you’re not careful. If you want to keep yourself from becoming an archetypal trope, get input from outside of your usual group.
Photo by Alejandro Mallea.
As business site Strategy+Business explains, when you have several people in your own group reaffirming you (and each other) it’s tempting to become dismissive of criticism that comes from outside the group. However, if your group becomes too isolated then everyone within it can reinforce bad ideas. The antidote is to avoid being dismissive of people that aren’t part of your clique.
Often the root cause of dismissiveness is in-group bias, a concept credited to psychologist William Sumner. Although Sumner was not intending to describe business groups, his assertion, made more than a century ago, sounds eerily descriptive of some corporate cultures: “Each group nourishes its own pride and vanity, boasts itself superior, exists in its own divinities, and looks with contempt on outsiders.” Pride and confidence, when exhibited either in a group or in an individual, are not inherently problematic. But those attitudes can be destructive when they lead business executives to ignore competitive threats or conflicting opinions. A dismissive attitude suggests overconfidence and potentially a lack of healthy debate.
Being dismissive of criticism in general is a pretty bad way to improve, but it’s equally important to avoid only listening to those people who already support you. When you listen to those in your group, you can feel like you’re not dismissive while still only accepting ideas that support your preconceived notions of who you are and what you’re capable of. The people outside your group, however, will have a motivation to be a bit more critical. You don’t have to listen to everything everyone says, but you can’t dismiss all outside input entirely.
The Line between Confidence and Hubris [Strategy+Business]