Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Written by: Kealan Bane
Have you ever been in an argument, been to a speech, or as some like to say, had "discussion" with someone who is very well spoken, they know what they are talking about, or at least it seems that way, but most importantly they are confident when presenting their points? If so, I am sure it is very apparent which speaker is confident and effective, and which speaker may not be so confident. Confidence in commutation is defined as: knowing what you're good at, knowing the value you provide, and acting in a way that conveys that to those around you. Going back to the argument question stated above, usually a speaker who has a very deep understanding of what they are talking about is typically going to be very confident when presenting their points. The reason for the confidence is as follows(in very simplistic terms): If a speaker knows every true piece of information about a given topic, this simultaneously infers that they also know every false piece of information about that same topic, annotated as such. If T ≠ F, therefore ~T = F. The written meaning of the previously stated annotation simply says, something cannot be true and false at the same time, therefore if something is not true it must be false. For an example, if I am a speaker and I know that the only way to make the color orange is to mix yellow and red (T) and someone presents me with the argument that one can make orange by mixing green and pink (~T), then by me knowing the only way to make orange is by mixing yellow and red I can infer that the presented counter argument is false because it is not true (~T=F). With this logic, if I know everything about a given topic, I can present that topic with extreme levels of confidence because, well, I know everything. The confidence comes from the speaker knowing that they know everything, and since they know everything they know that they bring value to the conversation. The speaker then takes these two aspects, and pairs them together in such a way that conveys, or makes it very apparent to their audience that they know these things. Sound familiar? This is the exact definition of confidence in communication that was given in the beginning of the blog. There is a very interesting video called, "Confidence Makes People Seem Trust Worthy," by Christopher, F. Chabris, which, in short terms, states that we as humans, have more inclination to trust and follow some one who presents themselves as a very confident individual. Chabris's catch line for this podcast is, "We are seduced by the forecasters who seem the most confident. When we follow their advice, we often believe we’re making better decisions than we are." I have fallen into this trap. I have felt the gut feeling to trust a public speaker, or who ever it may be, simply because they were very confident in what they were saying regardless of what they were verbally articulating. On the flip side, I have also personally been told, mid debate, that my confidence is enticing. I have felt both sides. Now, this begs one major question: Can a speaker who is highly effective and confident convince an individual or even a crowd to believe something that is not true or in other terms, is false (~T=F). Let's apply this question to the example of which colors are needed to make the color orange. A young lady is walking down the street, she just finished taking an art class where she painted a picture of a girl in a beautiful orange dress. Before she knows it she gets bumped into by a man who just got done with a business meeting who is dressed in a very sophisticated, custom suit and tie. The painting is knocked on the dirty ground. The orange dress is now scuffed and needs a touch up, however, the lady is out of orange paint. The man deeply apologizes and claims that she can make the color orange by mixing green and pink (knowing you actually can't). The lady tells the man he is wrong.Scenario A: The man, again, insists that you can make orange by mixing green and pink (knowing you actually cant). The lady then furthers the conversation by asking why he thinks that. The man responds with some non-compelling statement such as, "I am not sure, I just think you can, I heard it somewhere but I am not too sure, but trust me, I know you can." Scenario B: The man, again, insists that you can make orange by mixing green and pink (while knowing you actually can't). The lady then further the conversation by asking why he thinks that. The man responds with a highly compelling argument that might sound something like this: "Yeah I know, it sounds weird. Contrary to popular belief, you can actually make the color orange when mixing green and pink. With just the right amount of green, about 1.6oz and just the right amount to of pink, about 2.4oz, the color orange starts to appear. Now, bear with me here, it is going to sound weird but trust me on this. The key to this is dividing the paint into four different containers, 0.4 oz of green and 0.6oz of pink in each container. Mix the first container for 30 seconds, the second for 5 minutes, do not mix the third at all, just layer the paint on top of each other, and mix the fourth for 5 seconds. Once this is completed, mix all 4 containers together for 53 seconds. The reasoning for this is to get the proper air mixture, it is like a carburetor on a car! From there the color orange starts to appear. Remember, exact times and amounts are key here. Chances are if you go home and try this and it does not work the first time, you probably messed up either the times to mix for or amounts of paint. Try again! If I happen to bump into you again I will ask you if this worked, and if I do not, best of luck! Again, my apologies for bumping into you!" In Scenario A the man responded to her questions with shakes and nervousness in his voice, some tones of uncertainty. He had close to no confidence in his response. He had no reasoning or explanation as to how or why mixing green and pink can make orange. In Scenario B the man responds to her question with extreme fluidity, he has no shakes or pauses in his voice, he is extremely confident and the delivery was effortless. He provided her with specific instructions that included the amount of each paint color, how long to mix for and exactly how to do it. He then covered his bases when it started to sound like nonsense by acknowledging the fact that it is and will sound weird when he starts to talk about the mixing sequence. He also compared the mixing sequence to a real life mechanism in a car to assign himself credibility. To keep her hooked, he provides her with a reasoning as to why it might not work the first and encourages her to try again. He then concludes the conversation in a very respectful, concise way, and offers his condolences one last time before moving on. Not to mention he is also dressed very well. Very Confident. Now, the lady knows that the only way to make the color orange is to mix the colors yellow and red (T), however, based on the statements presented by Chabris in his podcast, "Confidence Makes People Seem Trust Worthy," we as humans are more likely follow and/or trust the person who presents themselves in the most confident way.
My question to you, which scenario is more enticing?