How to work with a person that needs reassurance vs. a self confident person

Needs Reassurance vs. Self-Confident Personality Traits

Self-confident people have a strong sense of their own strengths, while other people need a lot of positive reinforcement to express themselves. We’re going to break down these two personality traits and how to help both types of people succeed at work.

What is a self-confident person?

People with self-confident personalities don’t rely on affirmation or feedback from others. They know when they’re doing a good job and tend to have a realistic picture of their own strengths and weaknesses.

What are the characteristics of a self-confident person?

If someone is self-confident, you might notice these signs:

  • They present their ideas and opinions with confidence.
  • If they think a particular idea or approach is right, they’ll advocate for it, even if it’s unpopular.
  • They aren’t worried when others disagree with them.
  • In the extreme, they may come off as conceited or arrogant.

How to work with self-confident people

Self-confidence can be a huge asset in the workplace, especially if you know how to tap into your employees’ strengths.

How to train a self-confident person
  • Once the self-confident person “gets” it, they may start to tune out. Adjust your pace accordingly and keep challenging them. Don’t let them disengage if you know there’s more they need to understand before moving on.
  • Many people with confident personalities are keenly aware when they don’t know what they need to know yet. They’ll speak up if they need to go over certain elements or steps in a process again.
How to motivate a self-confident person
  • Self-confident personality types don’t need praise to function, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate it. Offer positive reinforcement just like you would for any other member of your team.
  • Depending on their overall personality type (A, B, C, and D in our tests), self-confident people can come across as overly aggressive or assertive. If this is happening, you can help your self-confident team members adjust their tone to find more success with others at work.
How to give feedback to a self-confident employee
  • Again, don’t scrimp on feedback just because your self-confident employee may not seem to need it. Provide ongoing feedback through one-on-one meetings and in the moment when possible.
  • If a self-confident employee disagrees with your feedback, they may have a hard time accepting the critique. Clear feedback with examples (especially during larger performance reviews and goal check-ins) can help illustrate your point and clarify what you’re looking for.

What is the opposite of a self-confident employee?

Just as some people seem to get their affirmation from within, others lean more heavily on external validation. While both of these traits occur to different degrees in different people, most of us tend towards one trait above the other.

What does it mean to need reassurance in the workplace?

People who need reassurance at work need validation of a job well done. They want to hear when they’re doing well, mainly because they won’t feel confident otherwise. Without validation, they’ll second-guess themselves continually.

What are the characteristics of someone who needs reassurance at work?

A few ways to tell that someone needs reassurance on the job:

  • They may come across as uncertain or self-conscious about their work performance.
  • They may ask a lot of questions that they already know the answer to, just to be certain.
  • They may make self-deprecating comments in an unconscious bid for reassurance.
  • In the extreme, they may hold back their opinion, avoid volunteering for opportunities, and second-guess themselves even when they’re clearly in the right.

How to work with a person who needs reassurance

Most of us need some sort of reassurance (in all areas of our lives!), but some need it more than others. Assessing your employee’s ideal level of positive feedback can help you manage more effectively and tap into their strengths.

How to train an employee who needs reassurance
  • Train with lots of encouragement, and be up front about how long it takes to master different processes. This will help the employee stop focusing on everything they still don’t know so that they can fully absorb what’s right in front of them.
  • Keep track of the employee’s progress through training in an external way. This might be done by working through the handbook, drawing up a training schedule, making a checklist, or whatever other method is appropriate for the role.
How to motivate someone who needs reassurance
  • Give reassurance. This may seem obvious, but so many managers fall into the trap of only pointing out mistakes. Make it a point to compliment the aspects of your employees’ work that you want to continue.
  • Reflect on different ways of giving positive reinforcement so that you’re naturally giving a variety of feedback. There are so many different ways of reassuring your employees, and different people will respond to different methods better.
  • Don’t get stuck on one way of giving positive feedback. Some employees may live to be recognized in front of their peers, while others would love if you stopped them in the hall after a meeting to say, “Hey, you did a great job keeping us on track in there.” Mix it up.
How to give feedback to an employee who needs reassurance
  • Make positive and negative feedback a very routine part of life at work. The person who craves reassurance tends to be disproportionately affected by negative feedback. The more you can expose them to small critiques (and demonstrate that the sky is not falling because they need to make a change), the more comfortable they’ll become with feedback. Your employees need to be able to trust that you’ll tell them when they need to make a change.
  • If you have employees who seem to need more reassurance than you’re used to giving, it can be helpful to keep track of how often you give positive feedback, even if it’s just for a short period of time. Try putting a tally-mark on a Post-It every time you give positive feedback. This might feel forced, but it has a way of exposing whether or not you’re in the habit of offering reassurance.
  • If an employee’s lack of self-confidence is interfering with their work, be up front about that. Confidence can be learned through habits like stating opinions directly, speaking up when there’s a problem, avoiding softening statements (such as “I think maybe...,” or “This might be a bad idea, but…”), and more.

Which is a better worker: self-confident personality vs. someone who needs reassurance?

Being self-confident and needing reassurance are just two personality traits. To have a better sense of how an employee’s confidence (or lack thereof) will affect their performance at work, take all of the personality trait descriptions into account.

You’ll also want to look at the degree to which a person tends to be self-confident or needs reassurance. Overconfidence can be a problem, especially if a person also tends to be extremely aggressive, but on the other hand, so is needing to constantly prop up someone’s sense of worth.

Taking a look at the demands of the job, the team environment, and more can help you find the right people for each role. After all, success is the ultimate source of confidence at work.

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