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Is Arrogance the Same as Confidence?

Is arrogance the same as confidence?

Confidence and arrogance are easily confused - but no, they are NOT the same. In fact, displays of arrogance are how some people cover up their lack of confidence. They actually know they have a deficit, so they try to fill it or fake it by acting in a way they think looks confident.

When you see someone “putting on a show” they are more likely trying to hide their insecurities. You think, “That guy seems arrogant, but maybe he really is that confident.” Not only is our “arrogant friend” not confident, but now we’re not confident in our impressions of them. That’s why I call arrogance a confidence impostor.

Overconfidence, on the other hand, is NOT an impostor. Overconfident people actually believe they’re confident about who they are and what they do, except they lack the data and/or experience needed to have an accurate view of reality or potential outcomes. They aren’t faking it, but they may not know they’re unprepared or missing key information and yet move forward with all the certainty of someone who is truly confident.

Here are more terms that I call the “Confidence Cousins:”

Self-Esteem: Self-esteem is defined as “a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself.” However, unsubstantiated self-esteem creates false pretenses about your own capabilities and subsequently can prevent someone from being resourceful and resilient. For example, when a manager provides positive feedback but then re-does the work themselves, the employee is led to believe they did a great job. When they realize that they really aren’t as great as they were led to believe, people with self-esteem may blame external factors for their own inability. They are unable to deal productively with the feelings of failure and may walk away from trying anything else in fear of future failure.

Self-Compassion: If you are self-compassionate, you accept that you are human and permit yourself to fail. This excuse helps you get back on the horse after being kicked off or falling off. Knowing how to “cut yourself some slack” is a critical life skill if it isn’t used as a cop-out for persisting past the mental or physical pain that often comes with growing and changing.

Self-Efficacy: This is a belief that you can achieve a specific task or goal. It is a key component of confidence yet also only a subset. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you want to or should.

Courage: When you have the confidence to say or do something, you have a surety about the most likely outcome. Courage, on the other hand, is being brave and accepting some potential pain despite not having all the information needed to be certain about the desired result. Courage tends to be temporal. It may appear to be confident in the absence of preparation or enough knowledge about the situation and potential results.

Resilience: Sometimes referred to as having grit, resilient individuals seemingly don’t let failure or challenge negatively impact their own lives. They appear to let things just roll off their back and move on. Not to be confused with indifference or ambivalence, resilience helps you recover from setbacks. People who are resilient don’t give up, and they don’t let negative conditions or results become obstacles. Someone who is resilient doesn’t fear failure but uses it as a lesson with the data about what to avoid doing next time. They may even embrace failure with obstinance that motivates them to try again.

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