The Critical Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance

CoachHub · 9 November 2022 · 6 min read

Confidence and arrogance are easily confused for one another, as people tend to think positively about confident people. In contrast, arrogant individuals often have a negative perception by others. As a result, one must understand the differences between confidence and arrogance. These two concepts are separate from each other yet can both be used within one person.

What is confidence?

Confidence is knowing that you are capable of facing what is in front of you with ease. A confident person has faith in their abilities to handle challenging situations and achieve certain outcomes. 

Confidence comes from experience. When you witness yourself overcome obstacles and transcend limitations, you gradually gather evidence that feeds a positive self-image. Over time, you build an internal reputation with yourself that allows you to strongly believe in yourself and feel naturally confident.

Benefits of confidence

  • Others naturally want to be around you 
  • You are relaxed in challenging situations as you have faith in your abilities 
  • Others will have confidence in you 
  • Insecurity does not hold you back 
  • You can easily make friends 
  • You can ask for what you need
confidence and arrogance

What is arrogance? 

Arrogance is an inflated self-image. Grounded in illusion, arrogance causes people to over-estimate themselves and form conflated ideas about their value. Arrogant people have a warped sense of themselves. They lack empathy and place themselves in a superior position to others. 

Arrogance comes from a lack of self-awareness. They cannot see their weaknesses and exaggerate their strengths. They do not have an accurate picture of how others perceive them and lack an appreciation for the value of others.

Examples of arrogance: 

  • Attempting to intimidate others 
  • Refusing to learn from others
  • Fighting for their opinion 
  • Putting people down in front of others
  • Showing off in business meetings
  • Being rude to subordinates 
  • Giving unsolicited advice 

Downside of arrogance

  • Pride gets in the way of your growth 
  • Stops you from asking for help 
  • Damages relationship building 
  • Prevents teamwork as others will not want to work with you
  • Harms workplace culture

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What is the difference between confidence and arrogance? 

Being confident is a universally desirable trait while arrogance is universally unattractive. What makes the difference between the two and when does confidence become arrogance? 

Arrogance can be rooted in a sense of narcissism and is exacerbated by a lack of self-awareness. A confident person is aware of their value but also of the value of others and does not claim to be above others. Confidence becomes arrogance when perspective is lost and an individual loses humility. Confident individuals see themselves and their abilities as significant while arrogant individuals see themselves and their abilities as superior.

 

Open v know-it-all 

Confident people are open to external opinions and ideas. They are secure in themselves so they can receive input from others. Arrogant people believe they know it all and refuse to accept help. They have an exaggerated sense of their abilities so they cannot see that they would benefit from the advice of others. 

 

Self-assured v self-consumed 

Confidence is rooted in being assured in yourself and secure in your own value, but not being consumed by it. Arrogance emerges when your self-image becomes your entire world. You place yourself at the center of your universe and the value of others becomes secondary to what you believe you can offer. 

 

Self-worth v insecure 

A confident individual has high self-worth and therefore, is unbothered by bragging or boasting about their achievements. An arrogant individual places too much importance on their self-image and is never satisfied. They feel the need to boast as they are, in actual fact, not happy with their external persona.  

confidence vs arrogance

The middle ground between confidence and arrogance 

Knowing how to balance confidence and arrogance is vital in any social situation. Working on your confidence is always a good thing but be careful not to become too consumed with your external image. Confidence is an organic quality that naturally forms when you are truly satisfied with who you see yourself being on a regular basis. Work on strengthening all aspects of your life that matter to you, quietly, and you will naturally become more confident in time. Below are some ways to improve your confidence without becoming arrogant:

 

Know your strengths

Become aware of the value you offer and where you excel compared to others. Focus your attention on cultivating these skills and qualities. Give yourself evidence of your worth. Allow yourself to gain confidence from your strengths that is real and earned. Understand the hard work that you put in to get to where you are and feel assured that you are competent and capable in these areas. Do not allow yourself to boast about your accomplishments. People will see your achievements without needing to promote them. Display your strengths through your actions and behaviors rather than your words. 

 

Reject hierarchies 

Do not place yourself above anyone else, even if you have a reason to. Do not allow a title, accomplishment or reward to give you a sense of superiority. You may have more experience or be more skilled than others but this should not cause you to perceive yourself as ‘above’ others. It is simply in one area of life that you may add more value. Arrogant people mentally place themselves above others on an illusionary scale of absolute worth. They cannot see that there are many ways to add value and understand that they cannot be more valuable in every aspect of life. 

 

Listen

Be open and receptive to the opinions, ideas and help of others. Do not allow yourself to reject input from people who want to help you, particularly if you think you already know the answers. This is arrogance. Listen to people trying to guide you and remain humble enough to take help from anyone. Confident people can receive external advice and feedback as they are secure in what they know and do not see this as a weakness. 

 

Accept your weaknesses 

Make peace with the skills and qualities you lack. Know that you can work to improve anything you desire. Allow yourself to accept your weaknesses and trust that if it is truly important you will put in the necessary effort to get better. Do not reject any aspects of yourself and respect where you are in the process of your growth. Arrogant people refuse to look at their weaknesses honestly and attempt to portray an unrealistic image of total strength and perfection. 

 

Improve self-awareness 

Having good self-awareness can be instrumental in knowing when you are being more arrogant than confident. Knowing yourself is knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Self-awareness allows you to understand your value and your points of improvement while giving you a clear sense of how others perceive you. Self-awareness can be difficult to cultivate alone. Working with an external party such as a coach can significantly improve your self-awareness. A coach can help you to see patterns of your behavior that are unconscious and give you strategies to improve, allowing you to present yourself as confident and not arrogant. 

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In conclusion

With high self-awareness, arrogance can easily be avoided. With a devotion to growth, confidence can be naturally formed. Practice becoming aware of your presence in social situations and focus more on making others feel good than how you are being received. Working with a coach to improve your confidence will significantly contribute to your progress. Getting an external perspective and working with an expert is an invaluable tool for your growth. Feeling like you are improving towards your goals is the greatest way to become a naturally confident and self-assured individual.  

Cathy Stapleton

Cathy is an Irish writer based in Berlin, Germany who is passionate about using words to inspire growth. As a certified mindfulness facilitator and performance coach, Cathy aims to create work that helps people connect with themselves and heighten their awareness. When she is not writing she is usually running in nature, meditating or contemplating an existential crisis.

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