A secret to success: Confidence without arrogance


Some say there’s a fine line between being confident and being arrogant, but in fact the gap between them is as wide as the Great Wall of China.

Confidence is nice. Confidence is a powerful trait, that can make you successful. Arrogance however is only appreciated by those who share it. Confident people are like magnets — they have the ability to capture the attention, trust and respect of those around them. They believe they can do it, so they take risks and most of the time it comes with great rewards. It’s reassuring to work with someone who is confident in his skills and abilities. And it is also contagious — the more we surround ourselves with confident people, the more we become one too.

On the other hand.

… there’s arrogance. A funny definition says arrogance is the thing that separates the can-dos from the can-do-way-better-singlehandedly-with-my-eyes-closed. It’s funny until you have to work with one… In our experience, there’s nothing worse than classic egotistical arrogance. Especially for a leader. When a leader shows arrogance, it usually comes with opportunity loss, hurt reputation and quite a lonely life, as no one likes a know-it-all or simply someone who doesn’t listen because they believe they have nothing to learn. Psychologists say it’s about emotional intelligence, which is not something that everyone is blessed with, but it’s definitely something everyone can work on. We believe the real trick is mastering the confidence that comes with humility.

The art of quiet confidence

“What you think of yourself is much more important than what people think of you.” ~Seneca

Confidence doesn’t come with money or clothes or a fast car you’re driving. True confidence is about self worth and about what you believe you can do on your own. When you meet such a person, you will instantly know you can rely on them. It’s the kind of people you listen to and would be willing to follow in any battle. The kind who walks into a room and instantly draws the attention, without raising their voice or dancing on a pole. You know they are confident, but they never say it. This is the art of quiet confidence. And you can do it without being arrogant.

How? We have thought about a few ways to boost confidence while skipping arrogance.

1. Be sincere

You know that saying: fake it til you make it? Well it seems some think it’s a good way to go. We couldn’t disagree more. Pretending to be confident not only looks weird, but it keeps you from experiencing what real, natural confidence feels like. People who pose as confident often fall into arrogance as well, precisely because they haven’t figured out what confidence really means to them. For instance, they will talk over someone in a meeting, or speak too fast, without thinking about the consequences, because they think that’s what confident people do. In reality, nobody needs to fake confidence, as we all have it in us. We just need to remember the times when you felt most like yourself, the times when you were happy and comfortable, and hold on to that feeling.

On the other hand, arrogant people don’t offer too many compliments to their colleagues or business partners. Their attitude just gets in the way of sincere acknowledgement of others’ success. In order to avoid it, try to be honest and don’t say what the other person wants to hear, but rather what you feel it’s true.

2. Know your strengths

Another important thing you should do is be conscious of what your strong points are and explore them to the fullest. A person who knows their strengths, who knows what they are good at, will devote most of their time to that activity, this way improving their skills and becoming more confident in their capabilities.

A good way to identify your strengths would be to reflect on the activities that you like doing the most, that make you feel ’strong’ and of course, that bring benefits to you personally and professionally — these are your strengths.

3. Know your limitations

And while knowing your strengths is great, being aware of your limitations is awesome. Why? Because knowing that we can be wrong or/and that there are things we aren’t good at, draws the line at becoming arrogant. Everyone knows someone with the Superman syndrome, someone who thinks everything they touch turns into gold, but the real deal is that they are just too cocky and obnoxious. So know your limitations, it’s the only way to grow and the only chance you get to become better and wiser.

4. Be humble

Yes, there is a battle against arrogance and your allies are genuine confidence and… modesty. Acting with humility even when you are, let’s say, the most praised contributor in a project, is quite a challenge. But it’s totally worth it. Humility cannot be taught tough, as it comes from instinct. You can however learn how to appreciate and verbalize your appreciation for the support you have received from others and the way in which any possible errors of yours have been acknowledged and internalized in order to be properly attended to.

Also, when speaking about yourself, if such an opportunity arises, it’s nice to avoid boasting, but it’s not a sign of confidence either to sell yourself short. When you are successful and your work brings value to a team or to a business, don’t shy away from sharing it with the others. It doesn’t mean you are modest, it just means you lack confidence. Everyone needs to know how to sell themselves fairly, while keeping in mind the best products sell themselves once the consumer understands what the product is and how it can help them.

5. Talk less, listen more

Being an orator is a great quality for a business man. Talking too much however, is usually a sign of weakness and insecurity. Maybe you’re hiding something, maybe you don’t have anything really meaningful to say, actually. Talking more can give you the impression you are in control of the situation, but reality can be quite the opposite. Find the balance between when you should speak and when you should just shut your trap and listen. Why is it dangerous? Because truly confident people will always see through your arrogant disguise and that might get you in trouble.

6. Don’t be afraid to be wrong

Being confident does not equal being right. In fact, the opposite often applies. Confidence will always balance your ability to listen and learn from those around you. The truth is there will be some who are more experienced than you, more talented, but that doesn’t cancel your efforts or your own experience and talent. You are allowed to be wrong because you are human. Confident people will always see what is good in others and the what is wrong in them (and vice-versa) and this will separate them from the arrogant many.

7. Be vulnerable

Now that’s a tough one. Not many of us are comfortable with being really seen by others. What does it mean? It means that we spend our lives building walls to avoid being vulnerable and to protect ourselves, without realizing that such boundaries won’t protect us, but fence us in. With arrogance, the picture is even more awkward — the walls are painted and decorated to mislead everyone into thinking this is who we really are. But hiding like this is nothing more than fear we will be really seen. And it so happens that the arrogant, those who seem to have the highest opinion of themselves are often the ones with the lowest self-esteem.

So dare to be transparent! Yes…even if it means you are vulnerable. Everyone has insecurities and a confident person knows what theirs are. Being honest about them makes you stronger and more likable.

8. Be mindful

Sometimes being arrogant props you somewhere above mere mortals and gives you the impression that you are better than others and better than what you really are. Being mindful stops you from being arrogant. Mixing confidence with mindfulness is a good way to ground you in reality.

The practice of mindfulness will help you see yourself for who and how you truly are; no more and no less. So stop as often as you can and ask yourself what you are doing, how you are doing it and if it’s the way you wished it to be. That’s the beginning of mindfulness.

9. Be an inspiration

In the movie American Gangster, Denzel Washington said the loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room. That is quite an obvious metaphor of how an arrogant person would react. Arrogance feels the need to announce itself with great emphasis, as loudly as possible, as to prove it looks better than everyone around it. While confidence puts a special glow on the person wearing it, making everyone around look better.

When you are confident, you are an inspiration to others. Especially when you are a leader, but of course, not only.

10. Review and repeat

Being confident without becoming arrogant is a challenge that needs to be kept on our agenda all the time. If not for other reasons, at least to watch out for missteps. You could get carried away some day and unconsciously cross that line. In order to make sure you are confident without being cocky in the long run, you should constantly check yourself. And maybe have others — people you trust — check you for any symptoms and report back :) We should always remember to learn from every situation and to become mindful of the reality around us.

TRISOFT’s view

In light of all we have discussed today, we may say confidence is a true asset and the foundation of solid endeavors, whereas arrogance is its exact opposite, attempting to the safety of the edifice. So perhaps it comes as a surprise that confidence makes it okay to be vulnerable, in order to know and learn to handle ourselves better. Real, natural confidence is trust, growth and maturity.

Arrogance and confidence are worlds apart. Make sure you know the difference and act right!