The Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance

By Kristen Clark

People who long for more confidence and higher levels of self-esteem are often discouraged from seeking a deeper belief in self because they are afraid they will become arrogant.  This fear often stems from a misperception about the differences between confidence and arrogance.  What is the difference?  Read on and you’ll find out.

There may appear to be a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but really the two couldn’t be more different.  Confidence inspires while arrogance discourages. Confidence is healthy while arrogance is destructive.  Confidence is noble while arrogance is annoying.  Read on to explore specific behaviors of confident and arrogant people, then ask yourself which one you are.

Arrogance is an exaggerated opinion of one’s worth or importance and often comes across as superiority.  Ironically, many people who suffer from arrogance are really trying to hide their insecurities.  They tend to overly compensate for their weaknesses, which results in pompous self-importance.  Here are some typical behaviors of arrogant people:

  • Name dropping out of context
  • Using condescending phrases
  • Harshly criticizing and judging others
  • Strutting or swaggering into a room
  • Dominating conversations and discussions
  • Appearing to know everything
  • Interrupting conversations to be heard
  • Having answers for everything
  • Bragging and one-upping others
  • Blaming others for their mistakes
  • Taking credit for all the work

Confidence, on the other hand, is a faith or belief that one will behave in the right, proper, or effective way.  People with confidence trust their instincts and naturally do what they believe to be right, appropriate, and productive or fruitful.   Here are some typical behaviors of confident people:

  • Showing a genuine interest in others
  • Encouraging and complimenting others when appropriate and deserved
  • Accepting one’s weaknesses and lack of skills
  • Hearing and benefitting from constructive feedback and criticism
  • Bouncing back after setbacks with grace and dignity
  • Listening to others with an open mind
  • Admitting one’s limited knowledge with a willingness to learn from others
  • Voicing opinions in love and kindness
  • Celebrating the victories of others
  • Accepting responsibility and learning from past mistakes
  • Giving credit where credit is due

The good news is that confidence can be developed and nurtured, and doesn’t have to turn into arrogance.  We can all develop a quiet certitude and suffocate an exaggerated sense of pride. In other words, we can choose to see ourselves with clarity, and not more highly than we really are (Romans 12:3), but it starts with a sober assessment of ourselves. Which are you?  Are you consumed with self-importance or do you humbly celebrate an inner trust in yourself, your actions, and your choices?  If you decide to seek the latter, don’t let the fear of arrogance keep you from achieving your goal.  Confidence is a virtue to be celebrated.


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