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February 12, 2008

Encounters with Self-Confidence

For the past 2 weeks, I've hired a young man (referred by the staging consultant who was referred by my prospective listing agent) to do some work around the house, preparing it to sell. He's a cheerful, energetic, self-confident guy -- eager to take anything on. Just about anything I asked him to do, he said -- "sure, no problem." Then as he got into doing things, it became clear that he was over his head on a few of them. He was sure he could bleach a water spot out of the hardwood floors. Not. He bid the painting of the hallway walls -- I thought that would include baseboards and door jambs, but no. (Why would you paint all the walls but not the door jambs that had paint from the same vintage?) He thought he had the tile countertops all figured out, but once he tried to work out the geometric pattern, he realized how complex it would be. I'm actually quite glad that he signalled his discomfort; I removed that from our agreement and have already found someone else to do it. He was also very confident about the timetable he was working on. However, everything ended up taking about twice as long as he projected.

SO -- a good example where unrealistic self-confidence can be an asset to the person -- sort-of. He ended up not doing the whole job, but what he finally did was good (albeit late, and with much feedback). If he had hemmed and hawed around what he could do and how quickly, I might not have hired him. In the end, he did much of what he agreed, and earned most of the money we agreed on (because of several add-ons). A good example of where self-confidence, even when it's a bit unrealistic, may be more adaptive (for him, at least) than a more realistic self-appraisal and self-presentation. Hmmm.

What did he win? He got the job, and partial pay, and worked at his own pace anyway.
What did I win? I got a job, partially done and not on schedule, for a decent price.
What did he lose? He lost my respect. I probably wouldn't hire him again or recommend him to others.
What did I lose? time and hassle

So for him, any gains may be short-term because they won't lead to future work, at least from me. But he knows I'm moving out of state, so why should he care?
I'll be talking with my social psychologist friends about this one.

Posted by hgroteva at February 12, 2008 5:25 AM | Life