How to Differentiate between Self-confidence and Arrogance

Scientific research shows that human beings are not always good at evaluating the true qualities of leadership, and are even occasionally attracted to the arrogant confidence that some leaders exhibit. Arrogance is often a sign of weakness, and people who display it create toxic workplaces and make decisions that put others at risk.

Sometimes, confidence and arrogance are confused, especially when the people who judge it this way have low self-esteem. For them, any demonstration or expression of internal strength is perceived negatively. These types of people cannot tolerate that others have presence, independence of spirit, or that they go through life without asking for permission. In these cases, it is a projection of the observer’s own envy, unable to bear the sight of others exhibiting behaviors they envy and that are beyond their abilities. Instead of looking at their own flaws and resolving them, they prefer to harshly judge and criticize those who are able to do what they only dream of and do not have the courage to do.

Those people could not be more wrong; arrogance is something else. The arrogant person usually acts in a way that makes him seem bigger and better than everyone else and makes it seem like he is above everyone else. He typically hates and ignores everyone else, thinking that they are all less important than he is.

The most accomplished, wise, and exceptional people are usually confident, and therefore do not feel the need to show off how amazing they are. But arrogant people ruin their chances by doing certain things:

  1. When you are arrogant, you tend to get stuck in a closed mind, which makes it less likely that you will search for new techniques and knowledge. Because you think you know everything, you also stop growing further.
  2. When you are arrogant, you believe that other people can contribute very little to you. This prevents you from making connections that you may need later in life and from establishing bonds of true affection.
  3. When you are arrogant, you tend to talk more than listen. We should remember that we were given one mouth and two ears for a reason; we can learn from listening, rather than talking continuously.
  4. You think you are always right when you are arrogant. This leads to false assumptions and makes you more likely to make mistakes. Getting a second opinion about something does not make you any less capable; in fact, it shows that you know how to value teamwork and shows your humility, two qualities that many people look for.
  5. No one wants to be around a person who is arrogant or conceited unless they want something from you. You will someday realize that you are alone and that the only social interactions you can keep are the utilitarian ones. Only those who want to use you will stay around you.
  6. When you are arrogant, you show that you are not willing to work in a team, and this negatively impacts other job opportunities and your career progression.
  7. Arrogance paradoxically often hides a lack of confidence, a lack of knowledge, and many insecurities. When people are overly confident in their abilities to hide their flaws, it can lead to unethical actions. Those who are arrogant think they are infallible and take a dead end.

This means that the day an arrogant person fails, which will inevitably happen, he will do whatever it takes to cover up his failure. Sometimes, these people will do unethical things to keep their guilt a secret, even if it means going to great lengths.

Let us not forget that confidence is quiet and insecurities are loud. Modesty and humility are much more helpful. Although it is understandable that people like to brag and talk about themselves, there comes a point where it becomes annoying, irritating, and even offensive to those who have to put up with it. 

People with a sense of confidence rely on their abilities and strengths to meet life’s challenges. They trust they have the ability to handle everyday situations and problems, and they are prepared to face changes. This allows them to acknowledge their weaknesses and not feel the need to receive validation from others.

In summary, confidence is the perception one has of one’s personal abilities and one’s ability to deal with whatever life brings. Arrogance is the idea that you are better than other people.

Mónica Esgueva is the author of 8 self-development books published in Spain and Latin America, including the bestseller ‘Mindfulness’. Since 2008, she has worked as a professional coach and has taught emotional mastery, self-knowledge, and mindfulness to executives in companies such as Accenture, Samsung, and Oracle. She is one of the leading experts in Mindfulness as applied to corporations in Spain and Latin America. ©Beyond Mindfulness is an innovative method that she created and teaches in corporations. She was honored as one of the Top 100 Women Leaders in Spain and one of the Top 10 “Thinkers and Experts Awards” in 2014.
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