Nov 052013 6 Responses

A Sign of Doubt (or Why Your Co-Worker Screams His Beliefs)

The one who screams the most, often believes the least.

Doubt often masks itself in confidence. Insecurity parades in certainty.

When I was a kid, an umpire told me an important concept about being a referee. He said, “When in doubt, pump ’em out.”

Years of experience had taught the sage umpire one thing—confidence is important. As an umpire there are two ways to communicate confidence—to have it or fake it. So when the umpire had no doubts about a call, when he was certain a runner was safe or out, he could quietly make the call he knew to be right.

However, when a play was close, when the umpire wasn’t certain of what the right call was, he had to exude a confidence he did not have—he had to “pump ’em out.” We’ve all seen it. The bang-bang play which requires a split section decision by the umpire. The previous plays have garnered a simple “out” or “safe” motion, but when the play is close, the crowd is loud, and coaches from both sides are yelling opposite beliefs, the umpire points and with tremendous flare punches the player out while loudly shouting, “Ouuuuut.”

As it is with umpires, so it often is with people. We often mask our greatest doubts in outward confidence.

This gives an insight to the loudest voices in our lives—they probably believe the least. They are likely attempting to convince themselves and others that they are right.

  • The Facebook bully
  • The office contrarian
  • The obnoxious fan

These who appear the most confident, rarely are.

Confidence most often expresses itself with contentment.

Consider Jesus:

  • He allowed the young rich man to reject him.
  • He never raised his voice while others lied about him at his trials.
  • He calmly rebutted the Pharisees when they doubted him.

This doesn’t mean Jesus was without passion. He had no problem yelling at the Temple and over-turning the tables of the money collectors. Jesus was not stoic in nature; He simply didn’t have any doubt which he had to mask with false confidence.

Confidence breeds peace. Assurance gives birth to peace.

When one of my children doesn’t believe something I say, I don’t get angry. I don’t yell and scream trying to convince them I am right. I say what is true and wait. I wait until they experience it for themselves and then when they realize the truth, I’m ready to move forward with them.

Consider the father of the Prodigal son. He knew what was best for his son, but his son couldn’t see it. So the father allowed the son to go his own way. The father didn’t chase him down. He didn’t force his way. He allowed his son to experience his mistakes and then the father was ready for the son when the son returned.

Deep belief releases tension. Because we are confident in our opinion, we aren’t threatened when others disagree. We feel no need to defend ourselves or to argue the point. We are willing to discuss, but we feel no need to fight. We are happy to share our opinion, but there is little interest in pointless debate.

Doubters debate. Doubters try to prove their point. Doubters seek ways to appear confident.

Understanding this tendency—for unconfident people to try to appear confident—can give us great understanding and empathy for those around us.

  • Maybe that person in our office isn’t a jerk, but they are just uncertain.
  • Maybe the arrogant person on Facebook is actually struggling with doubt.
  • Maybe the crazed fan is simply masking their own struggles.

This doesn’t excuse their approach but it can give us understanding to their actions. Ironically, it causes us to look at them in the complete opposite way from which we normally would.

When we believe someone is arrogant and they loudly proclaim their opinions, we are tempted to equal their loudness. Yet if we see the person as having great doubts, it can greatly change our approach. We are far less likely to match the emotion of someone who doubts their opinions than someone who we think is certain of their beliefs.

Watch a ball game and notice how an umpire calls an obvious call compared to a close one which could go either way. Then compare the difference to a co-worker, a friend, or a person on Facebook. Assume the calm responses are firm beliefs. Assume the loud or arrogant responses are masking doubt.

Have you ever considered volume or passion to be a sign of doubt instead of confidence?

6 Responses to A Sign of Doubt (or Why Your Co-Worker Screams His Beliefs)
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