The Confidence Barrier

gray airplane control panel

Too often, we assume that the obstacle to change in others is ignorance, and so we offer advice to mend that gap. But what if the problem isn’t ignorance but confidence—and our unsolicited wisdom isn’t making things better but worse?

Katy Milkman

You cannot change people’s minds. That is something they have to do themselves. However, what if they do not see a need to change their mind, and all you try to do is to educate them on something they already know everything about (they think)? Or what if they know everything, and you are the one who lacks knowledge?

Open some mental doors

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

Mark Twain

If you start a conversation that you are right, the other can only be wrong (or agree with you). You leave little space for discussion. Even though you are confident, test what you know with the other person, not to validate your knowledge, but to explore what might be true together.

Exploring helps everybody to open a door and look at what is on the other side. They might not move, but at least you know there are different rooms on each side of the door.

Generate movement

The nature of knowledge is that it only flows into the gaps created when you admit ignorance. Otherwise it flows runs past you.

Shane Parrish

Only when people admit they lack the knowledge can they start learning. Otherwise, it does the opposite, further reinforcing the old beliefs and closing doors even more.

Dare to explore. Even when you are so confident, consider that you might be wrong. That is how you explore together and how you can change minds: yours and those of others.

Because remember: rule #1 of the Dunning-Kruger club is that you do not know you are a member.