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1.4 Human Relations: Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence Effects

Learning Objectives

  1. Be able to define and explain the importance of self-esteem in your career.
  2. Define and use the Johari window as a tool for self-discovery.

What Is Self-Esteem, Self-Image, and Projection?

Self-esteemThe opinion you have for yourself and your value as a person. is the opinion you have of yourself and your perception on your value as a person. Low (negative) self-esteem can cause people to be negative, lack motivation, and be moody. Those with higher (positive) self-esteem like themselves, so they expect others to like them, too. They don’t harshly judge themselves and are comfortable with who they are.

Self-confidenceYour belief in yourself and your abilities., on the other hand, is your belief in yourself and your abilities. Often, people with high self-esteem also have self-confidence, although this may not always be the case. Both self-esteem and self-confidence can translate to positive human relations because if a person feels good about himself or herself, it is more likely he or she will be more comfortable communicating and working in teams—key components for success. According to researchers George Hollenbeck and Douglas Hall,George Hollenbeck and Douglas Hall, “Self-Confidence and Leader Performance” (technical report, Boston University Executive Development Roundtable, 2004). self-confidence can come from several sources:

  1. Actual experience. When you have accomplished something and succeeded, it is likely you will have the self-confidence to be successful at the task again.
  2. Experiences of others. If you watch another person perform a task, you may know you can do the same thing.
  3. Social comparison. When we see others with similar abilities able to perform a task, we may feel more confident in our own abilities to perform the same task.
  4. Social persuasion. A boost in self-confidence can come from the encouragement of someone we trust.
  5. Emotional arousal. This refers to our inner feelings of being adequate or inadequate when it comes to accomplishing a certain task. This can come from negative or positive self-talk.

Self-efficacyThe confidence you have to carry out a specific task. is the confidence you have to carry out a specific task. Someone may have generally lower self-confidence but have self-efficacy in certain areas of his or her life. For example, Michael may have low self-esteem in general, but he is a computer whiz so he has self-efficacy in his ability to rebuild a computer.

Self-imageHow an individual thinks others view him or her. is a bit different than self-esteem in that it means how an individual thinks others view him or her. One’s self-image may not always be in line with what people actually think, but you can imagine the impact this can have on human relations at work. If someone’s self-image is that people think they are stupid, they may not try as hard since they believe this is what people think of them anyway. Obviously, this can be an unproductive and unhealthy way of working with others.

ProjectionRefers to how your self-esteem is reflected in the way you treat others. refers to how your self-esteem is reflected in the way you treat others. For example, if Cheng has low self-esteem, he may project this by putting down other people or belittling them. Likewise, if Cheng has high self-esteem, his projection onto others may be positive.

Self-esteem can come in many ways, some more obvious than others, such as winning an award.

Improving Self-Confidence

Even if our self-confidence needs improvement, the good news is that there are many ways we can improve it. The following are examples:

  1. Use positive self-talk and visual imagery. Self-talk refers to the things we tell ourselves in quiet moments. It could be, “I did a really good job on that project” or “I am not good in math.” We constantly have an internal dialogue and our subconscious does not know the difference between truth and reality. So when we use negative self-talk, our subconscious actually starts to believe whatever we are telling it! This is why it is important to use positive self-talk. Visual imagery is focusing on a positive outcome and imagining it. By focusing on a positive outcome, we begin to believe it, thereby making it more likely to happen. For example, before you swing a golf club, you may imagine yourself hitting it perfectly with the ball going in just the right direction. This helps get us mentally ready to perform.
  2. Take risks. Risk-taking is an important source of gaining self-confidence. Of course, not all risks work out the way we want them to, but until we take risks, we are unable to accomplish tasks.
  3. Accomplish. Accomplishing something important such as earning a degree or a promotion can help us gain self-confidence. Of course, as mentioned earlier, often it involves risk taking in order to accomplish.
  4. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has a set of things they are good at. Knowing what you are good at and focusing on those things can improve self-esteem. Also, knowing what you are not good at and working to improve those skills can build self-confidence, too.
  5. Choose to spend time with people who boost your self-esteem. There are many negative people who do not want anyone to succeed because it makes them feel bad about themselves. Choose friends who boost your self-esteem and limit the time with people who harm your self-esteem.

Everyone can continue working on their self-esteem and self-confidence throughout life. The Johari windowA tool that can help us determine how we see ourselves and how others see us. is one tool that can help us determine how we see ourselves and how others see us. This can serve as a good starting point and self-assessment tool to help us become better at human relations.

The Johari window was created in 1955 by Josephy Luft and Harry Ingham. When it was created, the researchers gave people fifty-six adjectives they could use to describe themselves. The subjects picked five or six adjectives and then had someone who knew them well pick six for that person as well. Then, the adjectives were placed in the appropriate place in the grid. The grid consists of four windows. The first window is the open areaIn the Johari window, the area that the person knows about themselves and others know about them.. In this area, these are things that someone knows about themselves and others see in them too. The second window is the blind areaIn the Johari window, the area the person doesn’t know about themselves but others know about them.. In the blind area, the person does not know it about themselves, but others see it in them. In the hidden areaIn the Johari window, the area the person knows about themselves, but others do not know about them., the person knows this about her- or himself, but others are not aware of it. In the unknown areaIn the Johari window, the area that neither the person nor others know., neither person knows what exists there. Through time and as we change and grow, we may have more self-awareness and aspects of ourselves once in the unknown area may go into one of the other windows.

Figure 1.2 The Johari Window

Having higher self-esteem and higher self-confidence can improve our projection, meaning we can better accept criticism, learn from our mistakes, and communicate more effectively. This can result in better human relations at work and, ultimately, higher productivity and higher profitability.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-esteem is defined as the opinion one has about their value as a person. This is different than self-confidence, which refers to the belief someone has in themselves. Both are important determinants to career and human relations success.
  • Self-efficacy is the confidence someone has to carry out a specific task. Self-confidence and self-efficacy can come from a variety of sources.
  • Self-image is how you think others view you, while projection refers to how your self-esteem is reflected in others.
  • The Johari window is a tool to look at our own self-esteem and learn how others view us. The Johari window involves the open area, hidden area, blind area, and unknown area.

Exercises

  1. Write down the five words that describe you the best. When you look at these words, are they positive? If they are not positive, what steps can you take to improve your self-esteem? How will the steps you take improve your human relations skills?
  2. Take the self-esteem quiz at http://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/3102. What were the results? Do you agree with the results?