Confidence vs. Arrogance: What to Look Out For

Confidence vs. Arrogance: What to Look Out For

Confidence and arrogance are two very different ideas, but how would you describe their differences? The words are sometimes used interchangeably because their meanings are so vague compared to each other, but they do hold unique implications. When considering confidence vs. arrogance, both traits relate to a sense of self-assuredness. But if you want to experience personal growth, good communication, and healthy relationships, learning the subtle differences is crucial. Today, we’ll delve into the nuances of each and explore their definitions, characteristics, and the fine line that separates them.

Confidence vs. Arrogance: Definitions

Confidence is a quality that stems from a genuine belief in your abilities, knowledge, and value. It’s the inner assurance that you can handle challenges, make informed decisions, and achieve your goals. Often, people with self-confidence will have a positive self-image and feel comfortable speaking up for and asserting themselves. True confidence is built over time through accomplishments, learning experiences, and a healthy self-awareness. Some key characteristics of a confident person include:

  • Humility: You are aware of your strengths and weaknesses. You are open to learning and self-improvement, and you recognize that you don’t have all the answers.
  • Positive self-talk: You maintain a positive inner dialogue. You acknowledge your achievements without belittling others, and you’re comfortable discussing your strengths without seeking validation.
  • Empathy: You are secure enough to appreciate others’ viewpoints and acknowledge their contributions.
  • Comfort with yourself: Security is a main characteristic of confidence. You do not feel the need to shout your achievements from the rooftops or seek validation from others.

Arrogance, on the other hand, is based on a belief that you are better than everyone around you. It is a distorted form of self-assurance that comes across as a sense of superiority. It may also involve belittling others and believing you can’t fail. Arrogance can hinder personal growth and strain relationships. The main characteristics of arrogance include:

  • Dismissiveness: You may dismiss the contributions, help, and opinions that others give you, believing your own ideas are the only valid ideas.
  • Lack of humility: One of the main characteristics of arrogance is an unwillingness to admit to mistakes or accept constructive criticism.
  • Entitlement: You may feel like you deserve special treatment or recognition based exclusively on your perceived superiority.
  • Insecurity: Arrogance often masks underlying insecurity. You may overcompensate for your perceived faults by projecting arrogance.

The Difference Between them

Now that we’ve seen the definitions and main characteristics of confidence vs. arrogance, it’s becoming easier to tease apart the reasons that they’re different.

Confidence, on one hand, involves being secure with yourself, trusting yourself, and knowing how to gracefully accept criticism without taking it to heart. A confident person knows that they are enough, they don’t have to prove anything to anyone to be worth something, and so often, things will roll right off of them.

Arrogance, on the other hand, often comes from a place of insecurity. Arrogant people do not trust themselves because they have a lot of self-doubt and fear. Criticism is hard for the arrogant person because they can take it too personally and even take offense. At the same time, they find it hard to acknowledge others’ contributions and work hard to convince themselves of their own superiority so that they can push those self-doubts away.

There is also a third option at play, and that is self-deprecation. You may know someone who often puts themselves down, downplays their skills or achievements, or even makes fun of themselves constantly. This is that person’s way of managing your impression of them. If they’re self-conscious about something, it hurts less to get ahead of any criticism by saying it first themselves.

The benefits of confidence

Obviously, we all want to be confident. But what does a confident person look like, and what are we missing out on if we’re arrogant or self-deprecating? Confident people are great collaborators, learners, and leaders, because they’re comfortable making mistakes and not letting those mistakes get to them. They are good at taking calculated risks and often seek out opportunities for growth.

They are seen as self-assured, approachable, and resilient, thanks to their comfort with themselves. They are usually well-respected because, again, we all want to be confident! Because of this, they are usually well-liked by others, and their confidence can even rub off on their friends, team, or other collaborators.

What causes a lack of confidence

Many things can cause a lack of self-confidence, including trauma, receiving constant harsh criticism, and simply having a lack of support. It is incredibly common for people to feel insecure. Some other ways a lack of confidence can develop include:

  • Past rejections/failures
  • Impostor syndrome
  • Perfectionism
  • Negative self-talk
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Cultural/Societal expectations that conflict with personal identity

The negatives of arrogance

Arrogance can make you less approachable and more isolated. It can create poor communication because arrogant individuals tend to dominate conversations, and you can even miss opportunities because you may undervalue others’ ideas or contributions.

Arrogant people also experience reputational damage and strained relationships because of the negative interactions the arrogant person can create.

Finally, arrogant people experience a worse well-being because it is a mentally exhausting mindset to maintain. It can lead to anxiety, depression, perfectionism, and impostor syndrome if you didn’t have those things already.

Confidence vs. Arrogance: How to strike the balance

It can be hard to get the balance between arrogance and confidence right, especially if you employ the “fake it ‘til you make it” strategy. Striking the balance is important so that we can learn how to accept our mistakes and flaws and ultimately grow as people. So, how do you do it?

1. Embrace feedback

Feedback– no matter how harsh or gently you are given it– is meant to help you grow. Confidence is understanding this and truly taking it to heart. When you are secure with who you are, criticism and judgment don’t hurt because you genuinely don’t feel the need to rely on others’ opinions of yourself.

Obviously, that’s easier said than done, and it should be noted that validation and social acceptance are a need just as valid as any other in our society. In other words, it’s normal to want to be liked. But in order to be confident, you have to accept and validate yourself first and foremost, including all of your flaws. Then, when you do receive criticism, you know it’s something you need to work on, and you can put the work in to improve.

2. Celebrate your achievements

It’s also totally normal to downplay your achievements. After all, we just spent the last ten paragraphs explaining how arrogance can hurt you. But confident people don’t just become confident by forcing themselves to think that way out of nowhere. That confidence has to come from somewhere, and one great way to kickstart it is to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments.

Doing this can not only help you grow your confidence as you begin to see things you’re good at, but it can also contribute to your well-being in a really positive way. When you ignore your achievements, you begin the cycle of self-deprecation, which can quickly turn into self-sabotage if you’re not careful. 

If you’re afraid of becoming arrogant when you start talking about your achievements, remember that a hallmark of arrogance is thinking you’re better than other people. You can celebrate your achievements and know that you’re no better than anyone else. That is how you keep the balance. If you notice you’re starting to brush of other peoples’ achievements in lieu of your own, only then should you start to worry.

3. Use your voice

Speaking up, saying “no” when you can, should, or want to, and defending yourself respectfully when you feel you need to is another hallmark of the confident person. This can be incredibly hard, especially if you’re a people-pleaser, but remember that confident people set and maintain boundaries because it’s a way to maintain their peace and respect themselves. We could write a whole other blog post about people-pleasing and setting boundaries (and, in fact, we have!) but for now, remember that it is okay to speak up for yourself. Confidence comes from trust in yourself, and it’s hard to trust yourself when you let others invade your boundaries.

4. Use your support system

If you are afraid of becoming arrogant, this is how you avoid it altogether. Acknowledge and celebrate your support system. Lean on your friends. Ask your team to help you out with something. It can be scary to ask for help, but people, surprisingly, enjoy being relied on, and they would likely be happy to help you out if they’re able.

Confident people tend to be successful, and successful people don’t try to do everything themselves. They rely on others, and, in turn, let others rely on them. A support system is give-and-take, and if all you do is give, you will completely burn yourself out.

Final Thoughts

Confidence and arrogance are two very different things. Arrogance is a loud overconfidence that takes up a lot of space and pushes others down. Conversely, confidence is quieter, but more powerful. It comes with self-respect and self-love, and others respect you more for it. To determine confidence vs. arrogance, we need to dig a little deeper than just the surface.

If you’re concerned about your confidence and want to work on building it up, consider working with a therapist. At Modern Era Counseling, our premiere therapists are trained to help you build your confidence from the inside out. They’ll provide support and guidance, and together, you’ll be able to figure out where your confidence lies. If you’d like to learn more, give us a call at (704) 800-4436, or click here to send us an email and get started today.

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