Work Traits


Skepticism is especially beneficial in operational roles, quality assurance, and in problem solving.
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What is skepticism?

Skepticism means, to put it simply, you’re never quite convinced of something—whether you’ve had just one exposure, or numerous exposures. There’s always that little voice in your head that says maybe, just maybe, this isn’t quite right. 

Because of that, you’re consistently reprocessing to see if your initial conclusions still hold true. You’ve been known to recheck your own work and the work of others over and over again.

Your desire to maintain consistent standards can be a great thing (particularly in customer service and quality assurance roles), but it can also make it difficult for you to move on from a conclusion and cause anxiety and burnout as a result.

We call it: Consistency

The level of importance for you to consistently check your conclusions and decisions.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Carl Sagan

Leaders who have skepticism

James Alcock

James Alcock

James Alcock is a Professor of Psychology at York University. He’s also a noted skeptic of parapsychology, which is the study of mental phenomena that aren’t included with typical scientific psychology. 

“The experiments that have been done...are filled with flaws...they just don’t satisfy the canons of science. Until the parapsychologists can present evidence that satisfies the criteria of science, there’s nothing to investigate—there’s no phenomenon there,” he said in an interview with TVOntario. 

“The pursuit of science should be directed at seeking explanations, whatever they are, rather than searching for preferred explanations,” he explained in a separate interview with Susan Gerbic, a skeptical activist.

Ann Druyan

Ann Druyan is a writer, producer, and director focused on using her work to educate people about scientific topics. She’s also the widow of late astronomer, Carl Sagan. 

Druyan admitted in an interview with Joel Achenback for The Washington Post that she wasn’t always skeptical, and Achenback described her as having “rather vaporous standards of evidence.” 

However, it was her relationship and work with Sagan that caused her to look at the world around her with more skepticism. “If you are searching for sacred knowledge and not just a palliative for your fears, then you will train yourself to be a good skeptic,” she was quoted as saying.

Ann Druyan
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Carl Bernstein

Arguably one of the most legendary investigative reporters of his time, Carl Bernstein’s most notable achievement is cracking the Watergate conspiracy with fellow journalist, Bob Woodward. 

They won the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the scandal, and much of their reporting was based on information from an anonymous whistleblower. 

Bernstein believes in thorough, accurate reporting and has been a vocal critic of the turn journalism has taken in recent years. “The greatest felony in the news business today is to be behind or to miss a big story,” he’s quoted as saying. “So speed and quantity substitute for thoroughness and quality, for accuracy and context.”

The benefits of skepticism

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Since you’re not one to move forward with a hunch, your dedication to double-checking your work leads to great accuracy.

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Customer Service

You believe in maintaining consistent standards and don’t let exceptions slip through. This makes you a great fit for customer service roles.

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Your skepticism means you leave no stone unturned, and you uncover comprehensive answers, information, and directions.

The blind spots of skepticism

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Analysis Paralysis

Your desire to keep digging and keep confirming can be a good thing, but it can also be overwhelming. Having so much information can make it tough to make a decision.

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Because you’re consistently checking and rechecking not only your work, but the work of others, you can appear hyper-critical and like you doubt their abilities.

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Similarly, skepticism can mean you aren’t particularly receptive to new or bold ideas that come your way.

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How to have more skepticism

1) Double-check your work.

Skepticism means you won’t be content with just a first pass. You need multiple exposures to even begin to be convinced of something.

Slow down and take the time to double-check your work. You might be surprised by the areas you could improve upon.

2) Ask questions.

Skeptics are known for asking a lot of probing questions—just look at the different scientists and investigative journalists who fall into this category. 

Don’t immediately accept things as truth, and opt to dig deeper with questions. Inquiries like, “Why did you approach it this way?” or, “How else can we solve this problem?” will help you approach situations with a more discerning eye.

3) Verify sources.

False information is everywhere, and somebody who possesses a healthy amount of skepticism won’t just look into what the information is—they’ll look into where it came from.

Make sure you ask about the source of the information you come across. Go past the surface-level and find the root. It will help you feel that much more confident in your answers and conclusions.

4) Ask for criticism.

Skepticism doesn’t just apply to everybody else’s work, it applies to yours too. Ask others to poke holes in your own projects and ideas.

Asking questions of others like, “Does this make sense?” or “How would you disagree with this?” can help you see your own work in a new—and oftentimes more critical—light.

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