Arrogance vs Confidence: Seven Key Differences Between Them

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, with the two often confused.

Confidence is an important life skill to have, and yet, according to a recent study conducted by the business Gee Hair, on average, at least half of Britons lack self-confidence.

Confidence allows us to feel good about ourselves and feel empowered to go after the life we want.

On the flip side, some people may overcompensate for this, with their confidence quickly turning into arrogance.

Both confident and arrogant people seem very capable and highly skilled, but their demeanour is slightly different.

So, how can you tell the difference between arrogance and confidence?

1. Self-awareness 

Confident people are very self-aware. They know what they are capable of and accept that they do not know everything. They are open to learning from others and understand the value of seeking advice from their peers. 

Conversely, arrogant people tend to believe they know everything and cannot be taught new things. This is because they assume they know it all and tend to have an inflated sense of self-importance.

2. How much they listen vs how much they talk

Confident people are good listeners. They are generous with their ear and know when to talk and when to listen.

They don’t feel the need to be the star of every conversation and are happy to take a backseat and just take in the information.

They also understand the value of listening to other people to learn new things and gain new perspectives of the world through another person’s lens.

On the other hand, arrogant people tend to speak a lot and listen very little.

They tend to be somewhat narcissistic in how they talk, focusing mainly on everything that makes them great.

They have very little patience to listen to what other people have to say, believing that their own opinions are far superior, and therefore their voice is the only one that needs to be heard.

Talking

3. Good enough vs perfect

Confident people know their own skillset and are comfortable with the amount of work they can achieve.

As a result, they are happy to declare a piece of work as finished, even if it isn’t perfect. 

They have a healthy relationship with the idea of “good enough”. They know that perfection doesn’t actually exist, as it is in the eye of the beholder, and so they finish their work once they are happy with it, not worrying what others may think.

Arrogant people tend to be perfectionistic in nature. This is because they have a desire to be seen as the best and will do all they can to keep up this façade. This includes working themselves to the bone to make sure they do not make any mistakes.

They will also point out any flaws they see in other people or other people’s work to highlight how much better they are.

Although perfectionists, arrogance should not be confused with people who suffer from the psychological anxiety disorder - perfectionism.

4. Self-esteem

Confident people have high self-esteem. They are comfortable with who they are as people and accept themselves exactly as they are.

They appreciate their flaws just as much as their skills and acknowledge that imperfection is human nature. 

This higher self-esteem helps them be quietly confident and get on with their life without making a big deal of what they do.

This is not the case for arrogant people. On the contrary, arrogance tends to be a defence mechanism for people with low self-esteem who want to feel accepted and believe they won’t be if they aren’t perfect.

They will shout about their achievements to seem more important and put people down to appear better than others. 

But, in reality, arrogance serves as nothing more than a defence mechanism that rubs people around them the wrong way. This can make arrogant people feel more isolated and lower their self-esteem, leading to a vicious cycle.

5. How they deal with making mistakes 

Confident people will hold their hands up high and admit they have made a mistake. They are happy to take any blame for an error that is due to them and will do what they can to fix it.

They don’t let it affect their self-esteem and recognise that mistakes will happen; how you handle them is most important.

On the other hand, arrogant people feel that being accused of making a mistake is a personal attack. Therefore, they will attempt to shift the blame to other people to maintain the charade of perfection.

Making a mistake eats an arrogant person up inside and deflates their already low self-esteem.

Making mistakes

6. Contributions to group dynamics

Confident people make great peers. They excel both as leaders and as teammates, happy to contribute in whichever way will work best for the collective good.

A confident person inspires confidence in others, helping teammates see the good qualities they possess in themselves to uplift them. Whereas an arrogant person will talk down to teammates to assert their dominance within the group.

Arrogant people often contribute to a toxic work environment by belittling others, sometimes even trying to intimidate them.

7. Spontaneity

Confident people are happy to act spontaneously and are unafraid to fail. They know that there is always a lesson to learn in failure and are satisfied that they can survive a setback because they believe in themselves.

On the other hand, arrogant people are afraid to fail as it contributes to their inner narrative that they are not good enough.

That is why they are more likely to stick to what they are good at and then boast about their achievements.

Conclusion

While confidence is seen as an attractive quality, arrogance is considered repulsive in most societies.

However, it is essential to remember that arrogant people tend to be very insecure and act out of pain and fear, where confident people act from peace of mind.

So next time you are confused between the two, hopefully this quick guide will help you distinguish between a confident and arrogant person.

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