Recently, I was working my university’s commencement ceremony as a gate-keeper. A few others and myself would stand at certain points in a location to ensure that attendees of the ceremony would not get through. Basic crowd-control. This was my most recent brush-up with what I like to call “The Law of Self-Assurance.”
Let me explain. The people who were power-walking and looked like they knew where they were going were usually able to bypass us and our screening speech (What are you looking for, how can I help? i.e. Whatever it is is not important and you shouldn’t be here). They would do this without a badge or graduation robe. Half of the time we didn’t go after them because it would be too much trouble, and the other half because it actually seemed like they knew what they were doing and therefore should be there. The people who were lolly-gagging, looking around, or talking with others were unable to pass us. Here, we can see the Law of Self-Assurance in effect.
The Law basically states that if you act with self-assurance in what you are doing, people will let you do it with little to no questioning. The reasons for this simple rule are as follows:
1) Very few people have full information on anything, so if you look like you know what is going on, they will assume that you do know what is going on. In our case, we did not know all of the different components of how the event worked and who else was involved. Therefore, the people passing with an air of purpose might know more than we do, and so it is easier to let them do it. The key is to activate the Law of Self-Assurance amongst people who do not know any better (most people).
2) Effort. Humans will want to expend the least amount of effort in many situations. By looking self-assured and filled with purpose, you have laid down the groundwork for what people should expect from you. Questioning that image would be going against the grain for an on-looker, forcing them into a situation in which they expend the most effort–highly unwanted. Each day, many of the decisions we make are decisions we have made before and make continually out of habit, or are those that others have made for us. This is because it is the path of least resistance and effort for our brain to take so that we can expend energy on something that we have not encountered before. Naturally, if someone has done the work of deciding for us of who they are and what their role is in the situation, we are more likely to allow that assumption to perpetuate that question it.
3) Most people dislike confrontation, either because of possible expended effort or a fear of rejection or disapproval. Although you don’t want to get into an altercation with the poor gate-keepers, they do not know that. There is an innate fear in people with rejection and confrontation, which is why people have a natural response to predict and scan for situations in which these altercations might occur so that it can be avoided. By looking self-assured, they already know that you are less likely to agree with what they might say because what you are doing is counter to their plea. Consciously or not, they attempt to avoid this and therefore let you do what you want.
Above are some points as to how the Law of Self-Assurance operates. There are certain conditions to the law, as well as exceptions depending on the situation. However, these points generally remain true. What is more important than how it works is to know that it does work. Between you and I, we know that you actually have no place being where you are, and hence cannot actually believe that you genuinely belong there unless you are deluded. The confidence and belief in the Law is what takes the place of that, and allows you to carry on getting where and what you want with panache and flair.
So the next time you want to do something or go somewhere that you are not technically invited to do, try out this Law of Self-Assurance and see what happens!