From day one, even before I started the university, I have been fighting to overcome my lack of self-confidence. Whether you call it impostor syndrome or not, I do not know exactly the psychological reason why that has happened. Anyhow, I have found my way to improve it, little by little, to get here and finally being able to share thoughts and feelings, without feeling exposed or afraid of what others think about me.
As a person with a low profile, I find this topic really important in a teamwork environment. Most of the time I even put soft skills over any other technical skills and knowledge. And I must say focusing on this aspect of the development environment helped me to do better on a daily basis.
Technically speaking, within the IT world is rather common to see people trying to impose their ideas or solutions, showing arrogance by judging or shaming others. And sometimes playing the defensive mechanism for the sake of arguing, otherwise you will be considered weak.
Giving the fact that I have never considered myself a super-smart person (not a big fan of this stereotype of programmers) I find this situation challenging.
Although I was never mean, with time and experience, I learned how to deal with these situations a lot better, how to pick my own battles; how to always be kind, respectful, and communicate without hurting anybody in the process. Be clear about what I am sharing but always giving the space to others to share theirs. Especially in an international environment can have a big impact, but that deservers a particular chapter.
So the best way that I can put the difference I am talking about is the following:
Confidence is when you have been doing something successfully for quite a while, learning from your mistakes and you build that along the way. You do something with a level of security that can be smoothly transmitted to others. And from the other side, it is fake confidence and you blindly believe that you are right, with a certain superiority, which can potentially block you from hearing other opinions.
It might happen that if you do not take care of your behavior people will no longer like to work together with you. And that’s a shame because teamwork spirit can help you to absorb other people's knowledge and teach you many things about the way they work.
Real Life scenario
If I were to spot this difference in a real-life scenario it could be during a discussion, where the one that is arrogant will end up the discussion without changing sides, will never going to give-in and accept that the other person has a valid point, and will try to impose their way of thinking because, in the end, they see this as a battle, not as a discussion. And, from the other side of the fence, confidence means that you are comfortable discussing an argument but if you get a valid point from others, you are confident enough to accept it, take it, learn from it, because nobody will judge you for that, which I think it is a quite rare skill to have, that I tend to value a lot more over time when interviewing.
After everything that I been through, with almost 10 years of experience in the field, I am confident enough that I can ask everything I have in mind, without being afraid of people judging me because I might look silly for asking questions about something that I should have known. No! Not anymore, we can forget things, we can have bad days, it is time to put that off, I find it difficult to believe that egos and this sort of competition between coworkers can help you in any way.
We all have our bias but it is up to us the way we communicate them without feeling that we are trying to impose our way of thinking.
Everybody wants to change others, but nobody wants to be changed! At what point are we fighting, but not listening or analyzing if the other person's approach is better than ours?
Are we ready to let our opinions go, and trust others? Well… personally, as I said before, it helped me a lot to do better and improve my analysis skills. And I can see that people tend to enjoy having discussions with me because they know that if I think they share something interesting with me I will be the first one to point that out and make them feel proud!
I know that changing other people's minds can be satisfying for some humans, but have you try motivating others to achieve what they are looking for when they need motivation? That’s satisfying!
There is no need to set a competitive and toxic environment at work, that’s old! In the end, we are just coworkers sharing a lot of hours per day together.
To sum up, it is all about finding the right balance. Find your way to trust in your opinions and believes, but also be willing to listen to other people's points of view.