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The Difference between Arrogance and Confidence

The Difference between Arrogance and Confidence


According to the Oxford Dictionary, confidence is “a feeling of reliance or certainty,” while arrogance is described as being “aggressively assertive or presumptuous”.


The truth is that we all have a bit of both arrogance and confidence in us, and, at times, there is a very fine line separating the two. As far as situations go, arrogance would involve being presumptuous about one’s talents or capabilities or making claims about certain situations without backing up those claims with evidence. Confidence, on the other hand, can be inherent to a large extent, but it can also be acquired from various situations and life experiences. An arrogant person would probably humiliate or demean another person, , but a confident human would simply let his or her actions speak for himself or herself.

This debate between confidence and arrogance is often exhibited in various sports stars and film stars. While arrogance involves demeaning others without being able to prove one’s own mettle, confidence is the exact opposite: proving one’s own talent without having to belittle someone else. The late Muhammad Ali is a classic example of this. He would always prove his greatness and talent by his actions, exhibiting confidnece. A more contemporary example would be Usain Bolt who, after winning gold in the 2016 Olympics at Rio, proclaimed,” There you go, I am the greatest.”

How can we differentiate between the two?

It is not always easy to label someone as arrogant or confident at first because, usually the two overlap. What happens when the two behaviours display common signs. For example, what do we call a person who, while being able to prove his talent all the time, does brag about it at times, even poking fun at others for their so called inferiority? Is the person confident or arrogant? Research and surveys show that most people would be more likely to forgive the person in question because he or she ‘deserves’ to brag about himself or herself because he or she is ‘actually’ that good. Thus, the conclusion from this statement is that if you can prove it to the world that you’re the very best at what you do, people automatically deify you to a God-like status and all your ‘errors’ and ‘misbehaviours’ are overlooked. For many, therefore, it is completely acceptable to be arrogant or cocky if you can justify it. If we also reverse this thought process, it implies that to be the best, a certain amount of cockiness is mandatory.

The Relationship between Competition and Arrogance

Most people leading glamorous, hot shot lives, whether in big corporate houses, or industries where power plays a pivotal role, display arrogance. The reason behind this is simple: the struggle for power (what we often term as ‘survival of the fittest’)  gives rise to arrogance. It is very difficult to avoid arrogance when you win a competition or any kind of power struggle because the fact that you are the best has been established. To be more precise, the level of arrogance increases with success; the more you win and establish yourself, the more arrogant you become. Politics, sports, performing arts, or even corporate ladders—the one who survives and wins is the one who is arrogant. Even children in school exhibit this behavior; the kid who wins the race or comes first in class is usually the confident one, and, if he or she wins on a regular basis, then the confidence becomes arrogance. Thus, the relationship between the two is parallel and synonymous in most cases.

What are some of the ‘reasons’ for arrogance and confidence?

The answer is simple. Arrogance in a person usually stems from having performed unimaginable, superhuman feats, leading to a sense or feeling of great achievement or of possessing a power or strength like God. Often, doctors and artistes exhibit such behaviour because of their ability to heal and create. Arrogance also stems from being heralded as the ‘greatest’, not just by one’s actions, but also by the behaviours and praises of the world. Arrogant people usually consider themselves to be the centre of the universe and are vital to its functioning, and contrarily believe others to be less important and less vital than themselves. Their self worth is infinitely greater than everyone else’s.

However, arrogance also serves as a defence mechanism in many ways, when it is used to mask one’s inherent insecurities and low self esteem and to  protect one’s ego. Often, an arrogant person is so afraid of being rejected or their weaknesses being revealed that he or she rejects or demeans the other person/side first. This is very common in couples and relationships as a defence mechanism where the person rejects their partner right at the outset.

Why Being Confident Can Never Go Wrong

Confidence is quite simple to define and understand. A confident person will never take others for granted and is wise enough to understand that he or she cannot function alone. Confident people do not take mindless gambles and believe that working hard is the only key to success.

But arrogance can, and it does.

Since arrogant people have the contant need to set themselves apart from everyone else, they end up getting deserted by others because of their insufferable behavior and constant demeaning of those around them. Nobody likes to be belittled, and, as a result, arrogant people usually end up alone, professionally and personally. Arrogant people can also exhibit extremely reckless behaviour associaed with the belief that ‘I am the best and nothing I do can go wrong’, which often results in failure.

At times, even the general masses are misled into believing someone who reeks of arrogance. This is usually the case for arrogant people who also possess a fair bit of charisma and a strong personality with the power to convince people. Arrogant people are often extremely seductive and make excellent salespeople, with a flair for capturing the listener with their words. However, the long-term results aren’t always positive; because of the arrogant person’s tendency to take risks, everyone suffers. Arrogant people are also tyrannical to a great extent: once they’ve convinced you of something, they’re most likely to listen to no one but themselves. Confident people would, on the other hand, be more likely to take everyone’s opinions ,and, even in scenarios where they fail, they deal with their failure faster than an arrogant person. In many ways, a confident person is more realistic and strong.

To sum up this entire discussion, here are some brief pointers to help you distinguish between arrogance and confidence.

  • Arrogant people like to constantly show off their achievements and feel the need to validate themselves, while a confident person will not feel the need to brag about their successes or be the life of the party.
  • Arrogant people are the least approachable people on the face of the planet; whereas, a confident person will automatically want to help you out or talk to you.
  • An arrogant person would rather bluff than admit his weakness. A confident person, on the other hand, will not shy away from asking for directions when he or she is lost.
  • An arrogant person is usually out of control and cannot stop, even if they want to. Confidence is usually more internal and quieter in nature.
  • Arrogant people find it almost impossible to recover from failure, while confident people pick themselves up immediately.
  • Arrogant people will do anything to stay at the top; ruthlessness often goes hand-in-hand with arrogance. Confident people would rather take the honest path to success.
  • Arrogant people feel the need to compete with everyone all the time, even with their family and loved ones, whereas confident people are much more secure about themselves on a personal and professional level.

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