2 Factors to Determine If You’re Arrogant or Confident

Ass or ExpertSome interesting points about arrogance versus confidence were brought up on my “You May Already Be an Expert…” post.

I actually expected that.

Does that make me arrogant or confident? :)

There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence — and often that line is blurred. Two main factors help make the determination:

  • Intent,
  • And who’s doing the labeling.

If You’re Trying to Be an Ass, You’re Probably Succeeding

Some people thrive on their own arrogance. They’re self-important, holier-that-thou, know-it-alls who seize every opportunity to make others feel small. The funny thing about these kinds of people is that they’re:

  • Often wrong,
  • Actually don’t know what they’re talking about,
  • And use arrogance to mask their lack of confidence.

Like bullies, when they’re called on it, they back down. Though sometimes they fight harder — since any resistance will shed more light on their weakness. So they slather on a big ole’ jar of assclown, and use it to cover their inadequacies.

Anytime someone tries to appear more powerful by belittling others — that’s obvious arrogance.

Arrogance Is In the Eye of the Beholder

If you’re confident in your position, and have the expertise to back it up, someone is going to call you arrogant. That’s almost guaranteed. They may even call you worse.

It’s a sad fact that many people live their lives from a position of fear. They easily feel threatened, so they lash out.

As an expert, you are usually brought in to fix something. Something that someone else broke. If that person is still around, they’re going to feel threatened by you. Unless they too are confident, and just happened to have made a mistake.

It takes courage to be an expert. You’re there to provide results, not to make friends. As a person of experience, you are hired to provide your expertise and knowledge to others — plain and simple. But you have to treat others with respect.

If you value others, while utilizing your expertise to get the job done — that’s confidence. No matter what the threatened may call you.

Be Who You Are, and Let Others Do the Same

If you do just a bit of soul searching, you’ll know if you’re being confident or arrogant. The way you treat those around you is a good indicator.

Being sure of yourself and knowing that you have what it takes to get results — while providing others with the respect they deserve — is what sets an expert apart from an ass.


  1. As someone who’s been accused of being arrogant based on a first impression in exactly a situation like you described (I was there to fix something that was borked) I have to say I grinned the whole time I read the article. I then forwarded it to my boss lol.

    Thank you for saying it so nicely.

  2. For me this always boiled down to a very simple distiction….do you think you’re good, or do you think you’re better.

    The folks who understand and appreciate their skills, but can equally do the same for others, realize that they’re good.

    Those who can’t…simply feel that they’re better than others.

  3. Rich – Yeah, I’ve seen that a lot — especially with first impressions.

    Helz – Great distinction. Being able to “equally do the same for others” is crucial to achieving mutual respect.

  4. I got to thinking… the people who later decide that I’m not arrogant… those are the ones who are as good as they think they are. The others… they always think I’m arrogant lol.

  5. Reading this post and comments brought a chuckle, reminding me of people I’ve worked with who fit your description of arrogance perfectly! Most of the true experts I know are very humble. Maybe that’s because the more you know, the more you don’t know. What do you think?

  6. I have to agree with the distinction on the part of “still treat others with respect,” as that is one of the things that makes one of my favorite niche blogger’s schtick work so perfectly.

    To come across as an expert, his columns are disclaimed at the outset with the following:

    “… sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.”

    He is then free to let loose with his personal feelings about his area of expertise, particularly those who do not subscribe to his opinion. 🙂 It really works, therefore not doing anything so libelous would leave him to simply remain an expert without defending it with a disclaimer.

  7. Confident people tend to be generous in sharing their expertise. Arrogant people use it as a power base and try to stop others learning from them.

  8. Since I’ve allowed others to pin the label of expert on me, I’ve also developed what I hope is a solid working definition of what an expert might really be.

    An expert delivers answers to questions you didn’t know to ask.

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