By Alyssa Gregory

How to Be Confident without Being Arrogant

By Alyssa Gregory

arrogantConfidence is a powerful trait. Confidence can make you successful. Confident people are like magnets…they tend to capture the attention, trust and respect of those around them. They believe they can do it, so they take risks and reap the rewards. It’s reassuring to work with someone who shows confidence in his work and his ability to get the job done and done well. And confidence can be contagious — we all want to surround ourselves with self-assured people who make us feel like we can do it, too.

But there is a thin line between being confident and being arrogant. No one likes a know-it-all, or someone who doesn’t listen because they believe they have nothing to learn. If you display arrogance, you may turn people off, lose potential opportunities and hurt your reputation. Not to mention it can be a lonely way to live. So here are some ways to maximize your confidence without encroaching into arrogance territory.

Be Approachable

Having confidence doesn’t do you any good if you become standoffish or unfriendly because of it. You want to be able to enhance and develop relationships, not make people view you guardedly. You can make yourself more approachable by making eye contact and using confident body language that invites conversation.

In social settings, introduce yourself, offer a firm (but not too strong) handshake, and remember and use others’ names as you chat. In social networking situations, engage in conversations – both personal and business-related – to show your personality and give people a way to relate to you.

Be Sincere

Arrogant people either rarely offer compliments or do so in a way that feels forced and artificial, and it can almost undermine the success of the other person. Make a point to frequently and genuinely acknowledge the hard work and successes of those around you, even those who you may consider competition.

When engaged in daily conversations, listen well and focus on developing relationships. Avoid saying what you think the other person wants to hear and instead wait until you feel moved to offer an authentic and personal comment.


Be Humble

Modesty and confidence work exceptionally well together in the battle against arrogance. To be considered confident without arrogance, act with humility when you are recognized for a job well done, and be accountable for your role in any errors that transpire.

If you are part of a team that reaches success, take time to share the praise, give credit, and point out the contributions of others. We rarely reach success without support from someone else, and acknowledging the role others have played in our accomplishments is a great way to display confidence without arrogance.

Be Wrong

Arrogance almost always comes with a perpetual belief that you are right, while confidence balances your ability to listen and learn from those around you. While it may seem that admitting uncertainty can chip away at your level of confidence, the opposite is true. Being clear about what you know and what you don’t know can be liberating, and it’s usually appreciated by others.

Be Forthcoming

You’re confident because you’re good at what you do. Instead of sitting on a pedestal with your knowledge in your pocket, share it. Speak at conferences, write a blog, and talk to your colleagues to impart some of the wisdom you have gained.

Having a collaborative attitude can prevent you from every being tagged as arrogant and it can open the door to new relationships and opportunities.

Do you know someone who is confident but borders on arrogance? What would you suggest they do to rid themselves of the overconfidence?

Image credit: cobrasoft

  • Anonymous

    You have a knack for saying things that don’t need to be said. Every time I see Alyssa now I’m skipping it. Come on Sitepoint, you wouldn’t get this crap anywhere else.

  • You have a knack for saying things that don’t need to be said.

    I don’t know, I would say that it’s probably useful for a lot of people to be reminded of this sort of stuff. I find that in the tech world especially, people are often more arrogant than would serve them. This is particularly disastrous if you assume that your users “should just get it” and that those who don’t understand, say, your product’s interface are simply “not savvy enough computer users.”

    If you’re so arrogant that it affects your ability to create usable products, I think you’ve got a problem that has nothing to do with how technically skilled you are.

    Thanks for the reminders in this post, Alyssa. I’ve got to practice these.

  • For the last time, I’m NOT arrogant.
    I’m certain of that.

  • i dont know if that is fully true

  • To the brave anonymous poster above, the only reason your off-topic comment has not been removed is because it serves to highlight that you belong squarely in the audience that needs to read this advice. I’m not sure if this poetic irony has dawned on you or not, but thanks for reinforcing the fact that this is a very relevant topic for our readers, yourself included.

    Nice post Alyssa.

  • M. Rothko

    You have a knack for saying things that don’t need to be said. Every time I see Alyssa now I’m skipping it. Come on Sitepoint, you wouldn’t get this crap anywhere else.

    Doesn’t look like you are skipping it to me. How about you point us to some of your articles that you’ve written. Keep up the good work Alyssa!

  • Quest

    Great post Alyssa,

    I believe humility and honesty go hand in hand. I think most people border on arrogance when they fail to honestly evaluate themselves. We all need to conduct a self-evaluation from time to time and be honest with ourselves about areas where we need to improve and look for those strengths in others so we can learn from them and perhaps they can learn from us.

  • Anonymous

    To sum up:

    Those who are ‘confident’ are not ‘arrogant’ and those who are ‘arrogant’ are not ‘confident’!

    -Anita CM

  • Anonymous

    Great article Alyssa! Keep them coming.

  • Just…B

    This is a great article and many can benefit from its words on so many levels not just in work relationships but in general. I especially like the section on being humble – a little humility really does go a long way.

    Egos are evil. You can be “big” and still be humble.

  • Replete

    Interesting read, but I’m not sure why this is on Sitepoint – if I’m totally honest.

  • J

    Great stuff. This goes for technology, as well as any field which relies heavily upon people. It’s imperitive to get this right. Keep it up!

  • Wonderful site and amazing article!!

  • Clazmeyt

    thanks a lot, it helps., i learn from it.

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