Thank you to UXL Blog for “Creating Successful Leaders” for teaching me something new today. To anyone out there with similar questions about yourself, others, my hope is this helps you to learn and distinguish the difference too.
But let me back up a bit to how I learned a new life lesson today. I recently saw this post on Facebook by Regina of Romancing Your Soul with the following words accompanying the photo.
Love does not yell; ego does.
Love does not ridicule; ego does.
Love does not judge; ego does.
Love does not control; ego does.
Love does not blame; ego does.
Love does not pout; ego does.
Love does not compare; ego does.
Love does not demand; ego does.
Love does not fear loss; ego does.
Love does not criticize; ego does.
Loving is a matter of soul, not ego.”
– Regina of Romancing Your Soul
While I completely agree with the message of the post, it caused me to pause and further ponder the difference between confidence and arrogance because can be easy to confuse the two. An arrogant person will argue they are simply confident, and a confident person fears coming across as arrogant. With that, I was off on a quest to further understand and deepen my knowledge of the difference.
Now, I must confess, I did have an ulterior motive for my exploration. It had recently come to my attention, and my horror I might add, that some people perceive me as arrogant. For I work hard to be anything but, valuing humility, respect and compassion for others. Yet I also wish to wish to enjoy valuing myself as a person, who I am and my knowledge. I’ve struggled most of my life with a lack of confidence, torn between my fear of being rejected and wish to express and be accepted for my thoughts, and who I am. People have always been surprise when I’d admit this to them. I guess I was a pretty decent actor trained well in the school of “fake it till you make it” philosophy. So having spent most of my life as a people-pleaser, doing pretty much anything to be liked and belong, it was very difficult to hear that others thought me arrogant and no longer like me. It hurt, and my habitual people pleasing response was triggered, manifesting into sorrow and bitterness. Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of person work over my life, have learned and adapted tools over time to work through these emotions. In addition, significant challenges over the last few years, and particular the last year, have helped me find my stride so to speak. A sense of who I truly am, a soft gentle know, a self-confidence I’ve not felt before. One that only comes from being stripped naked of all the attributes my ego relied on, to show my authentic self, discovering I’m not so bad. I like myself, as it’s my responsibility to do.
Regardless of all that I know, the notion I was being perceived as arrogant still bothers me. I suppose this is because of my own feelings about it. That aside from being most unflattering, arrogance is an attribute I admit I detest when observing it in others. We’ve all seen type; the know it all, who knows everything about everything, and is never wrong, but will tell you without hesitation all the reasons why you are. This of course is the extreme instance of arrogance and therefore easy to name as such. I was pretty sure I am not that extreme, but perhaps I am arrogant, just in a more subtle way albeit still off-putting. If this is true, then I would like to change.
With this, my focus became distinguishing the fine line between confidence and arrogance in its less extreme, less obvious form. Once I understand this then I will be better equipped to make the necessary changes to correct this characteristic within myself. After reviewing the definitions of the two, and the multitude of synonyms, I still hadn’t found exactly what I was seeking; a simple, yet sufficiently thorough description explaining the difference. That was until happening upon this well written post by UXL Blog, “The Difference Between Confident and Cocky.” I thought it summed up the difference well.
As I read, I remembered that confirmation bias might be a factor. That is, the natural psychological phenomenon to find the proof I desired to keep my self-worth in tact. To limit confirmation bias, I read with a detached view, and asked myself tough questions with as much brutal honesty as one can when doing a self-assessment. Its not a guarantee, but it will help some. Then it came to me. What am I doing? Would an arrogant person go to such extent to expose their potential blind spots? Isn’t it more likely that if I was indeed arrogant, I would simply poo-poo and dismiss the comments of others without a second thought? Laughing at myself, at my folly to so easily bow once again to needing the approval by others, I am confident, in my soul, that I’m neither arrogant or cocky, simply confident. As for those that perceive me that way, so be it. They have a right to their opinion. What they think of me is none of my business.
At first glance, confidence and arrogance share many of the same trademarks: head held high, an ability to dive in and speak up, and a sense of pride in accomplishments. Upon deeper examination, however, arrogance and confidence stand in stark contrast with each other. The best way to distinguish between the two is to ask yourself, “Upon what grounds am I basing my pride?”
1. Cockiness is delusional.
An arrogant person believes their accomplishments are the result of their inherent greatness. They assume, with or without evidence, that they’re better than most everyone else. They don’t take into account the people around them who’ve helped them in the past, or the special circumstances they arrived in that gave them a boost. They lack a sense of gratitude toward the world.
You can see how arrogant thinking is faulty thinking, since nobody became great all on their own. Every present accomplishment is one…
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