Saturday, April 23, 2005

Arrogance or Confidence ?

This is a follow-up to my previous entry "Arrogance or Charisma ?" After I posted that piece, a reader asked the question, "What is the difference between arrogance and confidence ?" I must say, that question has fired my neurons into overdrive contemplating an answer. Many thanks to Kris for the inspiration.

I'd like to explore the concept of arrogance a little deeper than in my previous writing. I must admit that I display some aspect of this rather undesirable character myself, but have developed the ability to suppress that tendency out of respect for others.

Every once in a while, in meetings at work, there is some issue that comes up for discussion that I can figure out a feasible solution to in relatively short order. Occasionally, I propose it for consideration, only to be rebuffed by the discussing members. This is fine in itself, and I respectfully take a back seat in the ensuing conversation. However, there are instances when the members talk around and around in circles, going back and forth, with little progress, seemingly forever. I find it difficult to be patient, bite my tongue and not jump in, especially when I can see that they are eventually going to arrive at my original conclusion. I, of course, do not say anything except to support the group consensus. But in my mind, I feel frustrated that it took this long to arrive at the same answer I had arrived at 20 minutes before.

Although I loathe to admit it, I know that this sentiment stems from a small bit of arrogance. The underlying feeling is there, however I have worked very hard to ensure that I never allow it to be expressed. I know this about myself, and always keep myself in check.

Confidence allows me to step up, present my reasoning and propose a solution in front of my peers and my superiors, while risking the possibility of rejection. Arrogance appears when I know I have a good answer that is not yet understood. Respect for others ensures that I put a sock in it, and allow them to reach the conclusion in their own way and by their own means.

There are a number of people that I am fortunate enough to work with, who are exceedingly intelligent, analytical and forward-thinking. Many of these coworkers have solved near-impossible technological problems, come up with brilliant software and process designs, repaired fractured relationships, rebuilt chaotic organizations, and restored morale when all seemed lost. Of course, they have earned the right to be proud of what they have done.

Those who are confident never need to speak of their accomplishments to gain approval.

Everyone knows already what the confident person has done, and even if they don't, they respect and trust that he can take care of the issues that arise. A person who feels confident and secure in himself, who has a true desire to do the right thing, and who keeps the greater good as his first priority, can project these qualities without words. This disposition is sensed by those with whom he interacts.

A person who is arrogant may brag or embellish the truth in seeking approval from others. This may result in a temporary admiration, however it rarely lasts once the others observe him over a period of time.

A person's confidence is based on true accomplishments. Arrogance often is not. If it is, it is embellished for the sake of gaining an inflated sense of self-importance.

Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with mentioning one's achievements in the course of a normal conversation. The confident person may mention (in a downplayed manner) his contribution, but emphasizes the outcome, and the effect on the higher cause, instead. Here is an example:

"Our relationship with this vendor was very poor until recently. I've worked very hard over the last few months to rebuild their trust in our company, and now, our interactions are always positive. I'm very pleased with the results."

The perceptive person will often compliment the speaker on his great work. That, really, is what brought about the positive change. However, the speaker modestly emphasizes the benefit of the rebuilt relationship, instead of furthering his own cause. He does not feel the need to overtly take credit for the outcome.

A confident person balances his self-assurance with a sense of modesty and humility, and is focused on the greater good, rather than himself.

In all my interactions, both at work and in my daily life, that balance is my goal.


Blogger Kris said...


That is a ver nice description you have there! It makes alot of sense when I think about it. One of my favourite quotes is, "the art of speaking is knowing when to stop." I think this applies to the whole arrogance/confidence thing. It's as if the arrogant person must prove their self worth to others while a confident person is content knowing how good they really are. Or maybe it's as if the confident person knows "what's going on with her or himself" and keeps their ego in check, while an arrogant person just let's their confidence exude profusely.


p.s. nice pics!

April 24, 2005 at 3:16:00 AM PDT  

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