Yeah, we all have doubts about our abilities and our worth (ok, maybe not all of us, but most of us).
Yeah, sometimes self-doubt is justified because we haven't read what we should, haven't talked to whom we should, etc.
If you are one of these people who is feeling a lot of doubt about yourself and about your work, this blog entry is for you.
Act with confidence.
You may not be confident, but you can act that way.
This can be crucial in managing an academic committee, like the committee for an oral exam, or just your committee chair.
When you act fearful, people can pick up on that. If you act fearful and focus your conversation on your weak points, people will think about your weaknesses. But you don't have to do that. You can focus elsewhere.
You can focus, for example, on your strong points, on the things you do know, on the things that interest you the most, on the things that you have done recently (rather than the things you haven't).
You may not be able to fully control a conversation, and your interlocutor(s) might guide the conversation to a point of weakness--but why force it to go there before it is necessary?
This is not dishonest; it is not manipulative. But it does help get good results from the people you're dealing.
I've framed this all in a very general sense because this is not something that is limited to the world of academia. Yes, my main focus and my main experience are in the world of academia, and I'm mostly thinking of academics as the audience for this blog, but it is not a limited strategy.
Even if you don't feel it, you can act it and plan it. Confidence sells. And fear inspires others to look for the reason for the fear.