You Might be Overplaying the Competence Card: Here’s Why


This may sound counter-intuitive, but you might be overplaying the “Competence Card” at work. Most of have a tendency to believe that proving our skill set, is the best way to establish ourselves at work. However, that decision may not be enough to reach solid footing.

As a new manager, I was hired based upon both my education and previous experience. However, I would learn that this was not all that mattered when interacting team members. In fact, my biggest problem was projecting warmth. During a presentation course, I was told repeatedly that I failed to smile during my talks. This in itself, was not a problem. However, this tendency coupled with the type of information I normally presented (customer opinions) could cause me problems. When I saw the video playback, they were absolutely correct.

My over-emphasis on appearing professional had essentially backfired.

According to research completed at Harvard, one of our core drivers — safety — may be alerted when we form our initial impressions of others. This, in turn can affect our ability to form needed relationships. Amy Cuddy (and her team) have revealed that there are two criteria that must be answered when making initial impressions:

1.) Can I trust this person?
2.) Can I respect this person?

Interestingly, the notion of “trustworthiness” appears to take precedence over the latter. This can have a tremendous impact on our work lives —including key interactions such as employment interviews, presentations and networking opportunities.

Apparently trust trumps competence.

Who knew?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. Their new tool, The Alliance Diagnostic examines how organizational culture supports entrepreneurial thinking and career growth.


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