Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Nasher, Convinced!

Jack Nasher’s Convinced! How to Prove Your Competence & Win People Over (Berrett-Koehler, 2018) proceeds from the well documented premise that it is not actual but perceived competence that determines the impression you make on people. In fact, modesty is probably not a virtue. Icons, top names in their field, are anything but modest or stoic. “In extreme cases, these people have an almost narcissistic personality disorder, convinced of their own grandeur—and they are extremely successful.” We have only to think of Donald Trump.

So, if you are the type who is inclined to hide your light under a bushel (which is not even a Christian thing to do), Nasher has a lot of tips on radiating competence. They range from how to deliver bad news to how to speak and move like an expert, from how to increase your popularity and attractiveness to the power of symbols.

One of Nasher’s recommendations is not to show how much effort you put into an undertaking. Natural talent is more prized than acquired skills, so “perceived effort must be minimized to maximize perceived competence.” Reflecting this, the unofficial motto of one of the colleges at Oxford University is “Effortless superiority.”

Although here and there I cringed at some of Nasher’s suggestions, and although occasionally it took me back to my days as an insecure teenager reading pamphlets on how to be popular, on balance his points are well taken. So, if you think you’re underrated by your colleagues, your bosses, your clients, here you can learn how to convince them otherwise. And you don’t even actually have to be competent.

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