Pursue What Matters
Episode 122: Arrogance vs. Confidence
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Are you arrogant? Or are you just confident? Join me today as i help you understand the difference between arrogance and confidence, and how this understanding can help you pursue what matters.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:13
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. If you’ve been listening to the podcast, you know that not all pride is created equal, you understand the value of healthy pride, I just did a podcast on that. So I will link to that podcast in the show notes. But you know, this can be a really challenging concept, not because we don’t recognize that healthy pride can be a good thing. Think about when you have a child that accomplishes something, and you say you should be so proud of you of yourself. Or you say I’m so proud of you. Right, that’s healthy pride. And that’s a good thing. So it can be a challenging concept, not because we don’t recognize that healthy pride is a good thing. But because we are worried that healthy pride may slide into arrogance, which I think most of us can agree we do not want in our lives. And so today, I am going to be talking to you about the difference between arrogance and confidence so you can stay on the right side of that line.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:41
Of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead I try to do that, by helping you lead with clarity, which is all about connecting to purpose, I try to help you do that by leading with curiosity, which is to help you to be a curious observer of your experience, to develop self awareness, self leadership and self care. And I try to do that by helping you to lead and build a community, what are the specific skills that really help you to lead well, and for others to want to be led by you. And so today with the podcast, we are talking about arrogance and confidence. And this primarily focuses our efforts on curiosity, we really need to have some good self awareness when it comes to arrogance and confidence to really help us to know Okay, what’s happening for me right now? What intention is showing up in my behavior? And is this bringing people to me? Or is it pushing people away from me, So ultimately, it is related to leading and building a community as well. But primarily, we’re really focused on becoming a curious observer, to our experience to increase our self awareness and our self leadership. Because of course, first and always, we must be able to lead ourselves. So if you remember from our discussion of healthy pride, the real key in distinguishing between healthy pride and other forms of pride is in how power is obtained.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:18
Okay. So, as a quick review, when it comes to healthy pride, power is obtained via real accomplishments. So real world experience, and a solid sense of worth. And so healthy pride has a strong foundation of accomplishment of experience, and an understanding of your self worth. Okay? So healthy pride is always a result of genuine accomplishments and effort. That’s part of why we say you should be so proud of yourself because look at your accomplishments, look how you have helped yourself. In contrast, humoristic pride, which is often put at a dialectic or an opposition to healthy pride, is it is obtained via self aggrandizement. So right when we think about how is power obtained with hubristic pride, it’s all about trying to make yourself better trying topuff yourself up, right. And when we think about pride, that’s kind of the epitome of what we think about is this puffed up sense of self. And so it’s all about self aggrandizement, performance. And here’s the real key. And if this is this is the real insidious part of it hubristic pride is obtained at the expense of others. So when we see hubristic pride show up in others, it often leads to us feeling worse about ourselves because that pride is obtained at the expense of others. And so another term for hubristic pride is arrogance. Right and whenever we’re in a room with someone who’s arrogant, it does doesn’t feel good, right. And that’s often because it’s about performance it’s about self aggrandizement. And they are puffing themselves up at the expense of you. So another way. So when we think about another term for hubristic pride is arrogance, which we’re talking about today. And another way of understanding healthy pride is as confidence. So there you go, we’re going to be talking about the difference between arrogance and confidence. And obviously, we want to avoid arrogance, but definitely want to cultivate confidence.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:37
So as we talk about the difference between arrogance and confidence, I’ve got four key points for you today. And with each point, I hope it will increase your understanding of the difference between these two characteristics. And that it will give you some application some specific ways that you can start applying these concepts in your life today. Because right like, knowledge is great. But if we don’t have a way to apply it, it can actually be pretty useless. So let’s jump in with point one. The first thing we’re going to talk about is, what is the difference between confidence and arrogance?
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:14
Okay, so first of all, it’s not all or nothing, right? Like we don’t have an arrogance box, or a confidence box as as someone isn’t entirely confident or arrogant, right? Like we want to avoid these all or nothing categorizations. And so instead of thinking about these as distinct categories, I want you to think about arrogance and confidence on a continuum. Now, that is a way that I, you know, in my leadership coaching, and in my psychology practice, I have tried to help people think about different characteristics and different behaviors, different experiences that they have, not in terms of distinct categories, or buckets, but really as a continuum of behavior, right? And that some choices move us more towards one end of the continuum, while other choices, move us to the opposite end of that continuum. And that is certainly what it is like for confidence and arrogance. So these characteristics develop as a result of the choices we make.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:23
Okay, so that’s the first part. And and this is the second part, our willingness to do our own work related to self awareness and self leadership. Because here is what’s true, we can each be arrogant, right? We can each be arrogant. And we can each be confident without arrogance showing up. So the key that I want you to pay attention to is that it’s not that some people are just born arrogant. But our choices that we make, our willingness to be self aware to do our own work, really is the lover that determines whether we move more towards the end of arrogance, or more towards the end of confidence. So let’s think about arrogance a little more specifically, what is it and why does it show up? Right? Because like I said, we can all be arrogant. And so I want you to be able to have a keen eye for when arrogance might be showing up for you or when you might be vulnerable to it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:29
So the thing to understand about arrogance is that it is a weapon of compensation. Okay, so if you don’t feel you have worth, if you don’t feel that you matter, one of the resulting behaviors can be overcompensation. And when we overcompensate arrogance is the predictable result. So what happens, if you don’t feel great about yourself, you might go overboard, right? You might end up spending your life collecting gold stars and blue ribbons as evidence that you matter that you’re smart that you’re acceptable, right? This is where we really see self aggrandizement. Because it’s like we need to, we need to convince others that we’re good. We need to convince others that we’re accomplished. And the ways that we go about that is by self aggrandizement. And so often, arrogance looks like ego unhinged, but the reality is, it comes from a lack of self worth and self acceptance. Now, that’s a really important concept to understand because then when you understand this, right, that that arrogance comes from a lack of self worth and self acceptance, then when you notice arrogance showing up in yourself, you can get curious about, okay, what am I not feeling confident about here? Right, it gives you a clue into the direction And you can look to help yourself. And we all need to be able to help ourselves. It can also be so helpful to understand this relative to other people. Because you know, I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I see someone who’s arrogant, it’s so off putting, right I just feel like dismissing that I just like I’m so over it. But if we can understand that arrogance, often is a result of a lack of self worth and self acceptance, then how can that shift your own perspective, when you see a showing up in others, I know for me, it’s helped me to have a little more compassion to be less dismissive. to actually get curious about what might they be uncertain about. And then right, you have the opportunity to be a helper, you have an opportunity to actually help address their concerns. Now, it doesn’t mean you put up with bad behavior. But when we can back up and take a bigger picture of you, it really can shift the tenor of our relationships. And so rather than dismissing someone, you can actually move toward them in some compassion and empathy. Because all of our, you know, all of our pesky characteristics that we would identify as problematic. They grow out of valid needs. Now, the way that they’re expressed, the way the person’s trying to get those needs met, may be totally inappropriate, may be so incredibly out of line. But if we can have awareness about what might be the underlying need, then we can show up with more compassion, right. So whether that behavior is in ourselves or in others, and that can be a game changer in our relationships. So that’s a little bit more about arrogance. arrogance is a weapon of compensation.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:53
So now, let’s learn a little bit more about confidence. Confidence is a tool of contribution. Okay, I’m going to repeat that one more time. Confidence is a tool of contribution contribution, when you know that you matter, when you know that you are good enough, then there is no need to prove your worth. Right, you don’t have to collect gold stars. And instead of collecting gold stars and blue ribbons, you actually focus your energy on how you can best contribute, how you can grow, and how you can fulfill your potential. And confidence is always it, it springs from our inner sense of worth, but it’s always outward facing, right. So it’s always about contributing to a greater good, it’s always about developing our potential, right. And if we think about living to purpose and developing our potential, ultimately, that’s about service to others, okay. And that has that that also bears rich fruit for ourselves. So let’s think a little bit more about confidence. It, this does not mean that you are confident in all areas, I don’t know anyone who’s confident in every area of their life, right like this, that’s just not a thing. But the thing to understand about confidence is that it is built brick by brick, as you do the things you fear in pursuit of a larger purpose. Confidence is always a function of action. Okay? So if you’re sitting around feeling bad about yourself, and thinking about why do other people have all this success, and why are they accomplishing their goals? I want you to ask yourself this question, am I doing things that scare me? Am I taking action in the face of fear, right, not just for fear sake, but in pursuit of a larger purpose. And if you are not taking action, you will not build confidence. And that I think, is kind of a hard reality, about confidence. It only happens by taking action in the face of fear. And if you think about the areas of your life where you do have more confidence, my guess is you can see very clearly how you took action in the face of fear. And right building.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:23
Confidence is not easy, because we have to come face to face with our own demons. But here’s the beautiful thing about confidence. Confidence building becomes a virtuous cycle. Because as you learn to take action in the face of fear, you inevitably increase your confidence, right? That is the byproduct of taking action in the face of fear, you increase your confidence, but you also grow in purpose. And that really builds momentum toward more growth. And so what happens with that is you’re more willing to take action because you know, that fear does not have to take you out, you know that you’ve had past experiences where you have been successful in the face of fear. And so this builds momentum and motivation. And so you can see the path ahead of you. And you’re determined to develop the skills needed to progress. And so in that way, fear does not stop you any longer. Again, confidence is not about you, it’s about a higher purpose. It’s about contributing at your highest level. And ultimately, it is about showing up for others.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:36
Okay, so there we go. Point one, let’s really understand what confidence and arrogance are. So now we’re on to point two. Now that we know the difference between arrogance and confidence, I want to take a look at the specific characteristics of both arrogance and confidence. And this is where we get really specific This is where it’s a gut check for you in terms of curiosity, in terms of your self awareness. And so understanding these specific characteristics can really help you to keep yourself on the right side of the line when it comes to confidence while avoiding arrogance. Okay, so my hope is that this list of specific characteristics that characterize both arrogance and confidence, can really serve as a guide to you to say, am I keeping, am I keeping some guardrails in place? Am I staying on the right side of the line because confidence is a beautiful thing. And it is a necessary requirement for fulfilling potential. Okay, so we should never shy away from confidence. But of course, we don’t want the shadow side of confidence coming in, which is that arrogance.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:54
So let’s take a look at these characteristics. So if we think about arrogance, it is full of self delusion, right? We are not honest with ourselves. This is where we are performing, we are lying to ourselves. And part of this comes from this lack of understanding of our own worth. And so we necessarily become self delusional. Whereas with confidence, it’s all about self awareness, we have awareness of our worth, which drives us to take action, we have awareness of our skills, our talents, our gifts, each of us have unique gifts to offer. But those gifts don’t just come typically do not come on a silver platter, right. They are gifts and skills that we must cultivate. By taking action, we must develop our talents, we must develop our skills, right? We think about even even amazing protegees who are incredibly gifted. And if you look at the details of their lives, they are constantly developing those skills and those talents. So you might have some unique talents. But you always have to take action to develop them. And so confidence is self aware. It has a recognition of how you can best contribute, how the skills you need to develop, where you might get tripped up. And in that way it helps you to keep on the right side of that line.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:30
Okay, let’s look at the second component. Now, we’ve already kind of talked about this. So I won’t spend much time on this. But arrogance is prideful. It’s all about that hubristic pride and that self aggrandizement. Whereas confidence is humble. Confidence does not apologize for skills and abilities. But it also doesn’t have to make a show of it. When you’re confident you don’t need people to see how good you are. You just quietly go about doing what you’re doing. And in that way confidence is humble. Okay, the next one, with arrogance. It’s all about greedy. greediness right? It’s all about giving me more and more. Look at me, I’m performing. honor me recognize me. It is it is so great. It just needs all of the attention and all of the limelight. And that is if you’ll remember as compensation for not feeling good enough. But if you think about this, I always think about self worth as a bucket, right a bucket with water in it. And when it comes to a lack of self worth, you have a big hole in your pocket. And so you spend your life compensating and trying to get more water trying to get more self worth and yet, if you haven’t done the work to shore up your bucket to patch those holes. You can have all of the accolades. All of the compliments in the world. And it would never be enough. And in that way, arrogance is greedy because you’re greedy for validation. Whereas with confidence, you’re grateful, right? You have an appreciation of your skills, but you also have an appreciation of the skills of others. you’re grateful to be doing the work you’re doing. And in that way, it’s so incredibly different from arrogance.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:24
Okay, the next characteristics, characteristic, we’ve talked about this a little bit, but arrogance is all about self aggrandizement, right? So putting that spotlight on ourselves, whereas confidence is all about self acceptance, you see and understand yourself clearly. And not only that, but you can accept yourself, when we are moving from a place of self aggrandizement, we have shame about ourselves, we really don’t understand our worth. And in that way, we have to continually seek the spotlight. Okay, when it comes to arrogance, folks who are struggling with arrogance become takers, right. And again, they they’re greedy, they need everything for themselves. Whereas with confidence, we become givers. We’re contributing, we’re offering we’re serving, just listen to the language of that we are giving, we are bringing forth our best guests, for the betterment of others. And of course, that also betters us. So in that way, it becomes a virtuous cycle.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:29
Okay, the next one we want to take a look at is arrogance is all about attention seeking. Whereas confidence is about attention giving, when you have a clear understanding of your worth, you don’t need to be in the spotlight. And in fact, you want to share the spotlight, you want to share power, you want to encourage and strengthen others. So the next one, arrogance is selfish, right? Ultimately, it’s very selfish. And that’s not coming from a place of I’m better than you, although that’s how it shows up. That’s what it looks like. That’s what it feels like, if you’re interacting with one of these folks. But it’s selfish, in the sense of my needs are more important than yours, that my need to feel like I’m good enough is more important than you. And of course with confidence, it’s selfless. There’s no need for that. It’s so it’s so incredibly generous. Okay, and then also with arrogance, we can move into pity and sympathy relative to others. So it’s like oh, poor you. That’s too bad. And and when we think about pity and sympathy, this is these are not great characteristics to cultivate. Sometimes people think pity and sympathy are good. But what happens with pity and sympathy is they’re coming from a one up position looking down. None of us like to feel pitied. In contrast, confidence is all about empathy. And it is on the same level, right? So there’s not a one up or one down position. But there is a connection on the level of I see you. I see your pain, I’m trying to understand your pain.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:07
Okay, when we think about arrogance, it’s all about controlling, it’s controlling situations, it’s controlling relationships, it’s controlling how we are perceived, which is not a thing, right? Like you do not have control over how others perceive you. But with arrogance, we’re trying to control perceptions, others perceptions of us, whereas confidence is trusting, right? Like it’s it, there’s this great trusting factor in terms of I am who I am, and you can be who you are. And if things work out. That’s awesome. If not, you know what, it’s okay go in peace. With arrogance it’s all about taking credit, right? It’svone of the ways that being a taker shows up, whereas confidence is giving credit. Again, it’s sharing that spotlight, arrogance is full of comparison. How are you better than me? How am I worse than you? How am I better than you. Whereas confidence is all about collaborating. It’s all about let’s bring our gifts together to make something better. arrogance is full of shame and blame, right? The root of arrogance is shame. The root of arrogance is shame. Because we don’t feel good enough, we don’t know that we have worth and so one of the predictable results of that is to hide our shame, we tend to blame others. Whereas with confidence, we teach and we model. So with confidence we do not hold back from teaching when it is appropriate, right because there are times that not only us but others need correction and especially if you’re in a leadership position, you need to be willing to teach. But there’s also a recognition that the most effective way to teach is by modeling is by example. And so with confidence we teach and we model.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:06
So now we are moving to the third point. So with the second point, we really looked at specific behavior specific characteristics that can really help you to delineate between confidence and arrogance. So again, you can stay on the right side of that line. So now let’s move to the third point, which is where we’re going to help you understand the one key difference between arrogance and confidence. Now, we’ve been talking about lots of differences. But if we were to think about one thing that you can do, to keep yourself from arrogance, and to keep yourself in the lane of confidence, that key from the research is self acceptance. Okay? So self acceptance allows you to accept yourself and others, it allows you to be generous with yourself. And this helps you to be generous with others, you are compassionate with yourself. And this helps you to be compassionate with others, you are yourself. Now that might seem like a very basic statement, that you’re yourself, you’re not trying to become someone else you’re not trying to put on a show, you are not trying to prove yourself worthy, because you already know you are worthy. And so if if you were to do one thing, to help yourself to develop confidence, while staying away from arrogance, it would be to accept yourself, which for many of us, is the single hardest thing to do. We believe that we need to self criticize, we believe that we need to self flagellate, we believe that if we are not tough on ourselves, then we won’t be successful. And that notion is dead wrong, to say nothing of the fact that it is a miserable way to live. So self acceptance is the key.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:03
Okay, so now let’s move to our last point to really help you understand the difference between confidence and arrogance. And this is where the rubber hits the road. Right? So this is where we’re really thinking about application. And the the fourth point is to identify how you may be vulnerable to arrogance, right? Because it’s a continuum. We all can be vulnerable at different times. And so I want you to ask yourself these questions. And this is really where we think about application. Okay, so the first question is, how does arrogance creep up for you? So some, some things to consider with this is? How do you know when you’re performing? How do you know when you’re seeking attention? How do you know when you are trying to collect gold stars. So some of the ways that you may notice that arrogance creeps up for you, is when you do heavy filtering of your thoughts and behaviors, perhaps you’re doing some mind reading, or you’re reading between the lines, you’re trying to figure out what others are thinking of you. Another way that you might notice this come up is by anticipating experiences. So if you find yourself feeling really anxious, maybe about an event, say it’s a dinner with a colleague, and that you’re running through the situation, you’re anticipating it, you’re thinking; what will I say, that’s a sure sign that you’ve got some first of all some insecurity and that you are overcompensating. And if you’re not careful, this can come across as arrogance. Maybe you’re narrating experiences in your head. So you’re telling yourself a story about the experience that you’re having, like, they don’t like me, or she thinks she’s better than me. And that really can shift your behavior in not a great way. Maybe you notice you’re talking too much in a conversation. Maybe you notice I keep trying to make this same point. What is that about? For me? Maybe you’re feeling needy, in a conversation or in a relationship.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:14
So these are all signs that arrogance might be creeping up for you. And of course, that the hope is not that you feel worse about yourself when you notice how arrogance might be creeping up for you, but it can be it can be a cue for you to take a step back for you to get curious about what’s happening for me, how am I feeling insecure here? Because it is an inside job right? It’s not about the other person is not about what they may or may not be thinking about you. So that’s the first question How does arrogance creep up for you?
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:49
The second question is in what areas are you most vulnerable to overcompensate? Okay, so you might have areas in your life where you feel a lot of cop confidence, and you really don’t have any need to perform, you don’t have any need to puff yourself up at all. And then you might have areas of your life where you don’t have as much confidence, right that maybe you’re still developing a skill. And so I want you to think about how you might be more vulnerable in specific situations, that doesn’t mean that you absolutely will be arrogant. But if we can understand the areas where you’re most vulnerable, then it can give you insight into some of your work. So maybe it’s, you know, what, I really want to take more action to develop this skill, so that I am less vulnerable to arrogance. So I want you to think in terms of specific skills, do you have a skill set that you know, you’re feeling pretty shaky on? And could it help to take some focus action to strengthen those skills? So whether that is professionally, maybe it’s getting some additional training? Maybe it’s understanding more the inner chatter of your brain? So can you develop specific skills by taking action to build real confidence and make yourself less vulnerable to arrogance? Another situation that you might think about are social situations? Are there specific social situations that just, you know, inevitably will will kick up your vulnerability to overcompensating? And what is it about those social situations? Are you? Are you putting unrealistic expectations on yourself? Are you doing a lot of mind reading what’s happening there? And so that, you know, with this awareness, you can move into those social situations, with more awareness that you can be more intentional, that you can slow yourself down a bit.
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:56
Okay. And now the third question, Where do you feel confident, and so feel no need to overcompensate? I want you to identify at least one area where you actually feel really confident. And what does that feel like? Right? Like, what does that confidence feel like in your body? How is your behavior different? And this is the real key? How can this feeling of confidence in one area be a bridge to other areas? Right? So for example, if you think about an area where you have developed confidence, what helps you to get there? And are there lessons that you can apply to these other areas of your life where you don’t yet have that confidence? So I know, for me, when that shows up for me, I often go to books, I go to learning, because it’s a way that I can wrap my head around a concept. But remember, you always have to take action now reading up and, and scaling up in terms of your cognitive understanding, certainly is taking action. But we always want to be applying that in your real life. So it’s, it’s not enough just to read up on skills, you actually have to enact that as well. And so with this fourth point, I will just review quickly the three questions to really help you to apply what we’ve talked about today so that you can stay on the right live right side of the line, and really cultivate confidence without moving over into arrogance. So the first question is, how does arrogance creep up for you? The second question, in what areas are you most vulnerable to overcompensate? And question three? Where do you feel confident and so feel no need to overcompensate. And let’s let that be a bridge to you. So I hope this podcast was helpful for you. We all have our issues with arrogance and confidence. And very quickly just want to review the key points.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:07
So there were four key points we talked about today. First of all, we looked at the difference between confidence and arrogance. We also secondly looked at what are the specific characteristics that characterize arrogance and confidence so you can really use that as a guide for daily behavior. The third point was to understand the key difference between arrogance and confidence, which is self acceptance. So if you find yourself struggling with this, always move towards self acceptance, which can be a very hard thing for many of us to do, but so incredibly important. And then the fourth point was we wanted to help you identify how you may be vulnerable to arrogance by asking three key questions. This is all geared towards taking action in the moment in your daily life.
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:03
So make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode, I will include a link to the recent podcast healthy pride. If you want to learn more about that you can find those resources at www.drmelissasmith.com/arrogancevconfidence. So one more time that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/arrogancevconfidence. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai