When being humble is an advantage

Whether you have an important job interview or just want to be noticed in your current role – how can you make sure you stand out for all the right reasons? Suzy Greaves finds out and tells you how in seven short steps. Step four, the importance of being humble


When being humble is an advantage

When you walk through the door, how do you think you come across? The real truth, says Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of No One Understands You And What To Do About It (Harvard Business Review, £14.99), is that most of us don’t come across the way we intend.

‘We can’t see ourselves objectively. Human beings have a tendency to distort other people’s feedback to fit their own views – which can be a huge problem at work and in your personal life. People may not trust you, may not like you, or may not even notice you as a result of these errors in perception,’ she says.

But also the way we come across is often in direct correlation to how we feel about ourselves. If you’re feeling scared, don’t panic. There are some proven and simple techniques that can help us get into a more empowered mode before we even enter the room – that will not only make us look more confident, but also make us feel more confident. Plus, there are some surprising counterintuitive secrets to making a powerful impression, by doing the opposite of what you think might impress.

Here, we look at the latest psychological research on how you can go about creating the right impression. Step four is all about humility…

Be humble

When meeting someone new, the perceiver will be unconsciously comparing and also trying to establish if you pose a threat, says Halvorson – ‘Is it OK to let my guard down, or do I need to stay on the alert?’

Being humble helps to neutralise the threat of comparison.

Psychologiest Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic argues that if you exhibit some modesty with respect to your skills and abilities, people will add, on average, 20 to 30 per cent to their estimate of your competence. Blow your own trumpet too much and they’ll subtract the same amount.

Photograph: Corbis