Q: People at the litigation firm where I work think I lack confidence, but I just like to be sure I’m right before I say something. Why are they jumping to conclusions…and what can I do about it?
A: People misperceive others as lacking confidence for many reasons; in your case, your silence until you feel you have something on target to say is being seen as timidity or reticence and has caused others to conclude that you are unsure of yourself; when you do speak, you may well be right but by that time, it is hard to inspire the confidence of others.
Our litigation training taught us to know the answers before we ask the questions and not to ask even one question too many. But we need to be able to speak and question, to express theories and posit solutions. Your supervisors want you take initiative and show the courage to express your ideas in a give and take, to speak up and keep stretching your analytical and communication skills.
Try sharing your thoughts sooner, even as you are formulating them; hopefully, your colleagues will respond positively and help you express yourself more readily, in a manner that others will find positive and persuasive. I predict you’ll see that your instincts and ideas are very often right, and that you will engender confidence rather than be seen as lacking it.