Working to boost one’s self-esteem is a great thing, but taking it to excess can foster arrogance.
But how can you tell the difference between arrogance and confidence?
We asked our experts to share their insights.
Table of Contents
- Confident people are spontaneous
- Confident people are empathic
- Confident people have a strong sense of self esteem
- Colleagues who are arrogant look to gain advantage by elevating their stature only by diminishing yours
- On the other hand, people who are innately confident inspire confidence in others
- Confident people live in the real world while arrogant people live in fantasy
- Arrogance stems from a false form of self-worth
- Confidence is rooted in inner experience of the authentic self
- Arrogance and confidence are both related to a person’s perception of their own self-worth but there’s an important distinction
- Confidence is believing in yourself and your abilities, but arrogance is believing that you are better than everyone else
- Confidence is based on what we factually can do while arrogance is prideful boasting about what we want to do
- Arrogance is motivated by the desire to be seen
- The intention of arrogance is to be elevated above and beyond everyone else
- Confidence is motivated by the desire to be heard
- The intention of confidence is to feel comfortable in your own skin
- A good test between confidence and arrogance lies in how you relate with others
- Confidence means believing in oneself and knowing one’s areas of strength
- Arrogance means having an unfounded and overly high opinion of oneself
- Confidence is the belief in your ability to complete a task or achieve a goal
- Arrogance is a perception that your abilities make you superior to others who aren’t as skilled or talented as you
- Arrogance is the purview of the small person trying to seem large, often to make up for unexpressed insecurities
- Confidence is knowing you have the skills and ability to do something as well or better than anyone else can
- Behind every arrogant individual is a need to prove their self-worth to themselves or others
- Confidence is knowing you are great at what you do and letting your actions speak for themselves
- Arrogance is thinking you are great at what you do, yet having the personal need to let everyone else know it
- Confident people are self-assured, they believe in their abilities and are proud of their achievements
- Arrogant people believe they know everything already
- Arrogant people exaggerate their abilities or knowledge to make those around them feel below them
- A confidently written message engages and encourages readers to respond favorably
- An arrogant message is, plain and simple, a turn-off
- Confidence is something that is earned, typically through a combination of self exploration, self acceptance, and failure
- Arrogance is the act of entitlement
- Arrogance is a vice and confidence a virtue
Heather Z. Lyons, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist | Couples Counselor | Owner, Baltimore Therapy Group
It can be difficult to tell the difference between arrogance and confidence. Indeed, arrogance and confidence share similar characteristics including assertiveness and a willingness to speak one’s mind.
Furthermore, at times, when one’s behavior conflicts with stereotypes of preconceived notions of their cultural group, confidence can be misread as arrogance.
For example, confidence can be assumed to be arrogance in groups of people stereotypically perceived to be demure such as women or young people, or in groups for whom confidence might be perceived as unexpected or threatening such as people of color.
It can be helpful to consider the following three differences between arrogance and confidence to help distinguish between the two.
Confident people are spontaneous
Confident people have the ability to experience life in the moment and appreciate learning. Unfortunately, arrogance can leave people closed off to new experiences and can foster the belief that there is nothing new to leave.
Confident people are empathic
Arrogance is often a defense against feelings of insecurity. This sense of insecurity can close arrogant people off to the potential threat they might fear from others. This might result in expressions of contempt or condescension toward others.
Confident people have a strong sense of self esteem
On the other hand, arrogant people might really struggle with their self esteem and use their arrogance as a defense against their poor self esteem.
Despite the fact that arrogance can be off putting, it can be helpful to remember that arrogance can be a facade for someone really struggling to truly connect with others. A little empathy in that situation can have an impact and help lessen the need for arrogance.
When it comes to managing your career, arrogance will always get you into trouble. It is generally based in either insecurity or a false sense of superiority.
To the people around you — your bosses, coworkers and to anyone who reports to you — it is insulting. Even if you are as special as you think you are, no one likes working with, or for, a blowhard. It diminishes them and it erodes morale.
People who feel bad or unappreciated won’t perform and, ultimately, neither will you when they fail to deliver.
Colleagues who are arrogant look to gain advantage by elevating their stature only by diminishing yours
They tend to see the world as ungrateful and peers and bosses as either stupid or incompetent. As leaders, they are feared or avoided and ultimately they lose credibility when the people who report to them no longer show loyalty.
It becomes even more complicated when arrogance is not backed by ability. Swagger minus real talent is a problem from the very start and is most often seen in employees who over promise and consistently under deliver.
On the other hand, people who are innately confident inspire confidence in others
It will get you promoted and it will draw employees and colleagues to you as a role model and as a calm voice in times of stress.
Smart people who are assertive yet humble make the best colleagues and leaders. They don’t need to point out your weaknesses or extol their own virtues to achieve success. They make you feel good about yourself and encourage you to perform at your best.
Arrogance can often be mistaken for confidence when the internal drivers and external behaviors are quite different. Confidence is authentic and is built on experience, vulnerability, and knowing oneself. Arrogance on the other hand is pretended confidence as it is fear-based and built on lack of self-awareness.
Here are lists of descriptors for each to assist in correctly identifying the behaviors being seen and appropriate responses.
- Confidence often appears as straight posture, eye contact, can make decisions easily, short in speech, friendly, open, inviting and intimidating, commands the room through inner presence.
- The person has a humility about them – they are not trying to be better than someone else or look like they are right at the expense of someone.
- Requires vulnerability.
- The person is self-aware, they know themselves – their strengths, their potential weaknesses, their triggers, their automatic perceptions.
- This person is comfortable with themselves and is not afraid to be incorrect or perceived as not being right or being wrong.
- This person wants to learn from others.
- This person is self-assured while knowing someone else might have a better idea, they leave room for those other voices to be heard.
- This behavior leaves space for diverse voices to be heard, for creativity and innovation to emerge.
- This voice listens more than talks.
- Confidence is inwardly focused and behavior-driven.
Related: Why is Self Confidence Important?
- Arrogance often appears as straight posture, eye contact (to intimidate), big personality, loud, overbearing, cutting down others, making fun of others.
- Exaggerated or inflated sense of ability, i.e. knowing better than anyone else or know it all.
- This person’s behavior shuts down the conversation, diverse voices, creativity, and innovation.
- In reality, this behavior often masks the actual lack of confident feeling or fearful feeling.
- This overpowering, often big behavior is often covering the intense discomfort someone has with themselves or their abilities.
- The fear of an arrogant behaving person is that someone will find out they are a fraud.
- Often treating others poorly to make themselves look better
- Focus is on their voice, versus others. This person talks a lot and doesn’t do much listening.
- Arrogance is outwardly focused and behavior-driven.
Confidence can appear or exhibit like Arrogance when:
- Confident behaviors are pushed too far (similar to overusing a strength can become a weakness).
- When one is under stress the above can happen more easily – one loses the ability to control reaction under stress and resorts to more automatic behavior.
- At any time, even on a good day to anyone whose self-confidence might be low confidence behaviors can be perceived as arrogance.
In a confident leader, Arrogance can sometimes be referred to Confidence on a bad day – especially when under pressure or stress. In a stressful situation, a confident leader may be tempted to want to overly control the situation, focus intently on the outcome only, and can resort to telling versus asking behaviors.
If you are a confident leader in a stressful situation to keep your confidence in check do:
- Take 1-2 minutes to slow, deep breathing. This will allow you to distribute the flood of chemicals such as cortisol into your system so you can control your response/words/actions.
- Acknowledge your thoughts and perceptions. What are you assuming right now?
- Bring yourself back into reality. Use your 5 senses to identify what really happened or is happening.
- Involve others on your team.
- After the first 4 steps, determine the best short-term action step.
Dr. Emily Hu, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Thrive Psychology Group, Inc.
Confident people live in the real world while arrogant people live in fantasy
It all comes down to resilience. The confident person goes into a new or unfamiliar situation knowing that no matter how things turn out, they’ll be okay. Because they’ve had experiences of being supported and loved even when they fail, they have a solid core of resilience and can bounce back from most things without a problem.
Essentially, they’ll remain a whole person who is worth even if they don’t always succeed at everything they do.
The arrogant person, on the other hand, likely has never had the experience of failing—not because they haven’t been bad at something, but because they’ve never interpreted it that way. Instead, they have a tendency to blame everyone and everything but themselves.
Because of this, arrogant people go into unfamiliar situations expecting to succeed and to shine, even if they may not have the skills necessary for this.
They convince themselves they’re impervious to failure, and if they stumble, it’s inevitably because someone else placed an obstacle directly in their path, rather than because they weren’t looking where they were going.
Confident people also know when to accept validation from others for their accomplishments, which builds even more healthy confidence. Arrogant people, on the other hand, demand this validation without necessarily having the corresponding accomplishments.
Founder and Principal Teacher, Deep Living Institute | Author, “Deep Living with the Enneagram: Recovering Your True Nature“
Arrogance is embedded in the human personality. One of the primary functions of the personality structure is as a coping and protection mechanism.
It served an important role in our early years as we unconsciously developed defenses which seemingly could prevent us from experiencing the inevitable pain that comes with being a sensitive little one who picked up the spoken and unspoken, the seen and unseen elements of our environments.
Going through the stages of development as youth and adults, that protective shield became the basis for our identity—for how we know ourselves.
Arrogance stems from a false form of self-worth
Regardless of one’s specific personality ‘type,’ arrogance is built into self-image, even if it’s quite subtle. For example, a person whose identity is centered around being helpful will have an inner story based on being ‘more helpful’ than others. For another person whose identity is based on being strong and powerful, there’s an inherent sense of being more strong and powerful than others.
From the perspective of the Enneagram, there are nine prominent variations of self-identity, each which gets played out in the interpersonal space, at least until the individual becomes conscious of this ‘arrogance’ dynamic and begins the process of releasing it.
Even then, because arrogance comes from a deeply ingrained form of egoic protection that insists that one is ‘better than’ or ‘more entitled’ than someone else, healing it requires considerable and ongoing inner work. Arrogance, then, stems from a false form of self-worth.
Confidence can also be part of one’s ego-based identity, although many who put on a face of confidence, when feeling safe, may admit privately that self-doubt and fear lurk not far from the surface.
Not everyone naturally feels confident, yet showing confidence is a high priority espoused in Western society, especially in certain social and business sectors. Thus, a plethora of books and trainings are aimed at teaching people confidence-building skills.
Such phrases as ‘look the part,’ and ‘just act confident even if you don’t feel it,’ are part of the lexicon with the intent of making the ego or the personality look better. In some quarters, it is the basis for acceptance.
Confidence is rooted in inner experience of the authentic self
But there’s another dimension to confidence. It is rooted in inner experience of the authentic self. Those who experience this quality of confidence generally have developed a vital relationship to the inherent forms of intelligence that have become recognized over the last couple of decades. These include the belly center and the heart center, both of which have been found by neuro-scientists to have their own brain matter.
Having direct contact with one’s body intelligence and heart intelligence supports the quieting of the otherwise ever- busy mind. This more essential quality of confidence is distinctive from the ego-created version. You can feel it. This form of confidence has nothing to prove.
An arrogant person believes that their worthiness can only be measured in comparison to someone else and they only have worth if they are “better than” or superior to someone else. A confident person recognizes that their worthiness is innate regardless of how good someone else is.
A confident person approaches every situation with the expectation of a positive outcome. They believe that the pie can be expanded when everyone shows up fully.
In contrast, an arrogant person believes in a zero-sum game meaning that for them to win someone else needs to lose. For them to be worthy, someone else needs to be deemed unworthy or less than worthy.
In reality, an arrogant person is more insecure than what they project whereas a confident person knows that their self-worth is consistent regardless of anyone else around them.
Charlene Walters, MBA, Ph.D.
Writer | Speaker | Business & Branding Mentor, Own Your Other
Arrogance and confidence are not the same things although some may think that they are. There is a definite distinction.
Confidence is believing in yourself and your abilities, but arrogance is believing that you are better than everyone else
Confidence (unlike arrogance) is great- it means that you are able to put yourself out there and go for new opportunities because you believe in your skills and talents. When you are arrogant, on the other hand, you may be overly confident and believe that you can do things that are beyond your ability or expertise (to the detriment of others).
Everyone should strive to become confident, while, at the same time, guard against becoming arrogant. Even though you may be well accomplished and educated, you should never let that fact go to your head.
There is always more to uncover- you can learn from everyone- no one person has all the answers or is good at everything.
We live in a diverse world where multiple ideas and opinions should be embraced. Be confident but open and you will have the right level of self-esteem to be successful.
Rob Magill, MA, ICAADC, CCPG, DOT-SAP, LPCTBH
Certified Telebehavioral Health Practitioner, Magill Counseling
Confidence is based on what we factually can do while arrogance is prideful boasting about what we want to do
There are two questions to ask if you are not sure if you are being confident or arrogant:
Can you do what you are saying you can do?
If you can, then you are on your way to being confident. This fits within reality. Michael Phelps – the Olympic swimmer and arguably the best athlete to date – is not being arrogant when he says he can swim well. That fits with reality and what he can factually do.
Someone who barely swims is being arrogant to claim they swim well. Saying they can swim well doesn’t fit reality.
Are you humble about what you are talking about?
If so, you are probably confident and not arrogant. When we know we can do something, there is nothing to prove. We don’t need to show off or broadcast what we do, we just do it. And that is confidence.
If we have to keep telling others or showing off, we are trying to prove how good we are. This is probably because we know we aren’t that good. And acting like we are is arrogance.
Additionally, confidence is earned by consistently doing new, challenging, or difficult things until we can do them well. When we can to well at something that was new, challenging, or difficult and are humble about it, we can answer both questions 1 and 2 above “yes”.
Aisha R. Shabazz, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, In Real Time Wellness
There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence, which leads many to misunderstand how they are different from one another. The subtle difference between arrogance and confidence is motivation, intention, and consequence.
Arrogance is motivated by the desire to be seen
The desire to be the center of attention fulfills arrogance. To be seen digs into the superficial. Focusing on what others will think of you based on how you present to the world is a page of the arrogance handbook. This is also why most people often describe arrogance as insecurity.
The intention of arrogance is to be elevated above and beyond everyone else
When arrogance enters the room, it speaks to say, “Everything I do and represent is elevated above others”. This upper crust approach often leads to the consequence of arrogance which makes others feel less than.
Although all of these attributes build on one another creating a depth to arrogance, all three are not required to meet the criteria of being arrogant. I may add that being arrogant isn’t inherently ‘bad’, it can be a mood that is influenced by stress.
Confidence is motivated by the desire to be heard
To be heard focuses on the quality of what you have to offer. When we want to feel more confident, we provide ourselves an opportunity to clarify our message and intention, so that others can understand us.
The intention of confidence is to feel comfortable in your own skin
We want to feel good about ourselves and release the self-doubt that says ” I must care what people think before I act”. The consequence of confidence is being an inspiration. When others compliment you for ‘being brave’, instead of being offended, truly take that as a compliment, what it truly means is, your confidence inspired me.
There is a certain level of awareness that comes along with recognizing the difference between arrogance and confidence, so if someone says to you, ‘that’s a bit arrogant’ or ‘I admire your confidence’, reflect back and consider what is your motivation, intention and consequence to your statement or action.
Public Speaking and Stage Fright Coach
There are certain tell-tale signs of confidence that we all admire like vision, certainty, and charisma. But sometimes there’s a fine line – is this confidence or is it arrogance?
A good test between confidence and arrogance lies in how you relate with others
If you’re not sure if you’re faced with real confidence or dressed-up arrogance, a good test lies in how you relate to others. Do you try to pull them up or do you try to bring (or keep) them down?
Say, you’re sharing an idea at work – your vision even – and someone chimes in with their own ideas or challenges yours. What is your reaction? Do you hear them out to learn how their approach fits with your vision or do you dismiss them because you think that you know better?
If you’re not afraid of elevating others’ voices and letting them express their ideas, if you don’t feel threatened that they will eclipse you somehow, consider yourself confident.
This attitude will pull others towards you and help them create your vision with you. A true mark of a confident leader.
If, on the other hand, you’re confident but only as long as no one else outshines you or challenges you, your confidence may actually be arrogance in disguise.
A confident leader does not shut others down. People will sense that you’re threatened by them and may only help you begrudgingly (if at all.)
The good news is that you always get to choose. Choose confidence, vision, and certainty – and then make the choice to elevate others to see it through.
College Professor | Writer of Books for Children and Adults
Confidence means believing in oneself and knowing one’s areas of strength
A confident person can do a good job when he or she speaks up in public, takes risks, and undertakes leadership roles. A confident person can work well with other individuals because he or she cooperates with and respects other people in a group.
Arrogance means having an unfounded and overly high opinion of oneself
An arrogant person believes that everyone else must always listen to him or her and follow orders. Arrogant people think that they have skills and knowledge that they really lack.
Such individuals have trouble working together with other people harmoniously because they try to boss other people around, rather than listening to other people’s opinions and considering many options. Arrogant people do not make good leaders or bosses.
Life Coach, Life Operating System
Confidence and arrogance are two terms that are often confused, so much so that some people will even use the terms interchangeably. And while they can appear similar on the surface, there is one key difference between the two that distinctly separates them.
Confidence is the belief in your ability to complete a task or achieve a goal
It’s an awareness of the specific actions you need to take and a deep conviction that you can undertake those actions with a high probability you’ll achieve a favorable outcome.
This belief in your ability to achieve a goal manifests itself in many different ways, including lower levels of anxiety, the ability to hold eye contact, a sense of calmness and control, a lack of need for praise, and a willingness to take on new or complex tasks.
The core of arrogance is similar to confidence but has one additional element that manifests itself in the unfavorable characteristics that most people associate with arrogance.
Arrogance is a perception that your abilities make you superior to others who aren’t as skilled or talented as you
Arrogance is a belief that you have the ability to complete a task or achieve a goal, but additionally, you believe that your ability to complete a task or achieve a goal makes you better than those around you. It’s a perception that your skills and abilities somehow make you superior to others who aren’t as skilled or talented as you. This is where the traditional outward manifestations of arrogance come from.
Characteristics such as an outward desire for praise, talking down to others, always mentioning your achievements or abilities, minimizing weaknesses, and putting down others who aren’t as skilled or talented, are all commonly associated with arrogant people and they stem from the belief that their skills or abilities make them better than those around them.
Founder and CEO, Lamourie Public Relations
As someone who works with powerful, accomplished, award-winning people across industries and around the world, I have seen a lot of truly inspiring confidence and, unfortunately, some truly disturbing arrogance.
People often mistake confidence and arrogance, but they are not actually the same at all. Those who have the unpleasant experience of an encounter with a truly arrogant person will very quickly recognise the difference.
Here are the telltale signs that will help you tell one from the other – whether the behaviour in question is that of a client, an employer, or a co- worker in the business world, a friend or family member in your personal life – or even your own.
Arrogance is the purview of the small person trying to seem large, often to make up for unexpressed insecurities
It is sadly obvious, ego driven and often comes from a deep need to be acknowledged, or an anger at not being the centre of attention. The arrogant will often fly into what can only be described as a rage if their authority is questioned – it is a character flaw and a weakness.
Confidence is knowing you have the skills and ability to do something as well or better than anyone else can
Confidence is not being shy to put yourself out there and tell others what you can do. It’s a strength – truly the basis for success in anything you want to do – the first step to accomplishment.
President, Avior Executive Search
- Confidence is believing you’re as good as anyone. Arrogance is believing your better than anyone and that no one can ever be better than you.
- Confident people tend to project it internally. For example when people say about someone they are a great leader it comes from within. Whereas arrogant people tend to externalize and tell you how great they are. In other words: confidence is quiet while arrogance is loud.
- Confidence is positive while arrogance is negative.
- Confident people do not belittle those who disagree. Arrogant people do.
- True confidence can come from a sense of optimism. Arrogance is for those who seek power and authority to dominate others.
- Confident people believe that they are right and are unafraid of those who may see things differently. Arrogant people not only believe they are right but also feel superior to those who do not share their point of view.
Founder, Catalyst4Change | Certified Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP) Practitioner
Arrogance and confidence are like night and day; while they are different, they also overlap at times—like dusk and dawn. An arrogant person may be confident in their message or their ability, but a confident person has no need or desire to be arrogant.
Behind every arrogant individual is a need to prove their self-worth to themselves or others
This desire to showcase their knowledge or talent generally stems from unaddressed insecurities of which they may not be aware of.
Here are some key distinctions between arrogance and confidence:
- Arrogance leads to unsolicited advice. Confidence does not need to boost or sway.
- Arrogant individuals enjoy talking about themselves and their abilities which are often exaggerated. Confident individuals are self-assured. They have an inner calm about them that does not need outside validation.
- Arrogant individuals elevate themselves by placing their value above others. Confident individuals empower others and life them up.
- Arrogant individuals struggle to listen and take advice or criticism. Confident individuals appreciate the value others bring to conversations and welcome constructive feedback.
- Arrogance is often delivered in a condescending and boisterous tone. Confidence, while it can be powerful, is often delivered with respect.
Jesse P. Houghton, MD, FACG
Senior Medical Director of Gastroenterology, SOMC Gastroenterology Associates
Confidence is knowing you are great at what you do and letting your actions speak for themselves
A confident person conjures up images of a well-qualified yet humble individual, who is usually an expert in his/her field. A confident individual usually treats others with respect, no matter that individual’s position or level of knowledge. As a result, most people would prefer to deal with a confident person than an arrogant one.
Based mainly upon their actions, a confident person assures others that she has mastered her craft, and can be relied upon to got the job done in top form. The most confident people usually make the best leaders, as they are also the best decision-makers, and do not hesitate in the throws of battle.
Arrogance is thinking you are great at what you do, yet having the personal need to let everyone else know it
An arrogant person conjures images of a loud, raucous individual, who prefers to tell everyone how good they think they are. This individual usually has modest talent but lacks the self-confidence to let their actions speak for themselves. They usually crave attention and admiration, and often do not treat others with respect.
Arrogance usually results from the way an individual was raised, as this person was either raised by arrogant parents or was not given adequate attention (either by parents or peers) as a child, thus they seek this gratification as adults.
Not surprisingly, colleagues and coworkers tend to avoid arrogant people, as they are usually condescending toward others.
Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
Although some may confuse confidence for arrogance, they are actually very different.
Confident people are self-assured, they believe in their abilities and are proud of their achievements
They are aware that they do to know everything and are willing to listen and learn from others and also are happy to share praise, ask for others’ opinions and give credit where it is due.
They inspire others and attract people with their contagious appeal. Confidence is grounded in experience and respect.
Arrogant people believe they know everything already
They must prove they are always right and everyone else is wrong. They love talking about themselves and ultimately repel people through their condescending behavior and language.
They show their insecurity by craving the spotlight, ignoring others and having an exaggerated view of themselves.
Relationship Expert, Dating Pilot
Both arrogance and confidence affect the people that surround you. Whether it is the people that surround you in the workplace, people you live with, people you meet up with once a week for book club, etc.
Everyone in different social circles gets impacted by a person who is confident or arrogant. The only difference is that arrogance negatively impacts those that surround you while confidence does not.
Arrogant people exaggerate their abilities or knowledge to make those around them feel below them
They point out flaws or correct with the intent of making the other person feel beneath them. They are not humble in correcting and also lack empathy, as they seek to gain a sense of superiority.
Confidence on the other hand is typically gained through experience and trial and error. They have done a certain task numerous times or have enough experience in one area that they have built up the skills to successfully accomplish a task or take on a challenge.
Because confidence is gained through experience, they are able to empathize with others who are undergoing similar experiences and even offer to help or guide. They are not seeking to feel superior and therefore do not make those around them feel beneath them.
People tend to gravitate to confident people for this reason, whereas arrogance tends to turn people away.
Jack E. Appleman, APR
President, Successful Business Writing
While there can be a fine line between confident and arrogant writing, nobody confuses the outcomes:
A confidently written message engages and encourages readers to respond favorably
An arrogant message is, plain and simple, a turn-off
To come across confidently, pay attention to your language and anticipate how readers will perceive your message. Below are two tips for writing with confidence:
Don’t promise the moon
If you want to annoy readers and destroy your credibility, give them unrealistic promises with exaggerated language. But if you want to connect with them, use a down-to-earth tone and build a logical argument. Compare these two versions of an email from a first-line manager to a supervisor:
Arrogant: “If you adopt my proposal and allow the operations staff to work four 10-hour days instead of the traditional five 8-hour days, they will love us and productivity will go through the roof!”
Confident: “I suggest that we allow employees to work four 10-hour days instead of the traditional five 8-hour days. Based on interviews with the staff and studies citing productivity gains with a four-day workweek, this practice should increase productivity by 20% or more.”
Telling the reader that something is so usually isn’t enough. If you were driving down the highway and saw a billboard that read, “Best Ribs in Ohio,” would you be convinced? No way! Would you think the message was arrogant? Yup!
To persuade readers and come across confidently, demonstrate your point rather than saying it with boastful language. This is especially true when selling yourself. See the difference in the openings of these two emails vying for a promotion:
Arrogant and unconvincing: “If there’s anyone who can lead our Q3 digital marketing program, it’s me. My ability to create killer content that excites prospects will result in unprecedented ROI. I’ve done this before and I can do it again.”
Confident and persuasive: “To maximize ROI, our Q3 digital marketing program needs captivating content that speaks to our prospects’ needs, desires, and motivations. I can get this done, having led many successful digital campaigns in the past five years.”
While the first version just says it with smug language such as “killer content” and “unprecedented ROI,” the second version shows it with language such as “speaks to our prospects’ needs” and “having led many successful digital campaigns in the past five years.”
To ensure that your writing comes across confidently and not arrogantly, take the time to review your email as the reader would. Then assess your message honestly: confident or arrogant?
CEO and Founder, Verb
Confidence is something that is earned, typically through a combination of self exploration, self acceptance, and failure
A confident person can move mountains with positive thinking and assertiveness. A confident person believes in themself but knows continued learning adds value every day.
Arrogance is the act of entitlement
The thought that what’s mine is mine because of how great I am, and what’s yours will be mine because I deserve it. An arrogant person believes they are confident but with nothing to learn.
The line between the two is very thin and usually blurred. I’ve been arrogant and confident. Believing you are the right person for a job because you have the skills, ethics, and experience to deliver is confidence. Arrogance is the expectation of getting an offer because of the Ivy League diploma, nepotism, and abiding by the rules.
To put it simply: Arrogance is external, “I am better than you.” Confidence is internal, “I am betting on me.”
Founder and CEO, The Word Counter
Arrogance is a vice and confidence a virtue
While confidence has to do with a self-aware understanding of our abilities, arrogance is characterized by a naive sense of self.
Confidence exists in the knowledge not only of what we can do but also of what we can’t. This is because a confident person knows what it takes to accomplish difficult tasks.
A person may gain confidence by mastering one particular skill and through that process learn to understand the amount of time and effort that must go into the mastery of other skills.
In this way, the confident person’s self-awareness and personal sense-of-self stand on a solid foundation whereas the arrogant person is constantly balancing on unstable grounds.