Arrogance: What is it? How to deal with it?
What is arrogance? I’m sure you must have run into someone arrogant once in a while. Those who only talk about themselves and think they are better than others. This article is all about this personality trait. Learn about characteristics of arrogant people, their psychological traits and how to deal with them. Discover the meaning of arrogance, what it has to do with self-esteem and some tips.
What is Arrogance? Definition and meaning
What is arrogance? A haughty or arrogant person can be defined as one who acts as if they are superior, more valuable or important than others and underestimates them. At the same time, however, the arrogant person longs to be admired and respected for their special qualities and great accomplishments. Arrogance implies a desire to dominate and excessive confidence in one’s abilities, as well as seeing oneself as worthy of success.
Arrogance generally serves as a compensatory mechanism for great insecurity and self-confidence. It is a personality trait that is forged in childhood. While anyone can behave vainly at any given time in their life, it is most often a stable pattern to life. If it is a personality trait it will be difficult to modify, although it is not impossible.
Like all personality traits, arrogance can be more or less easily acquired. One can be more or less extroverted, more or less responsible, the extreme of arrogance is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Narcissism is the psychological term for arrogance and there are two types of narcissistic, vulnerable and grandiose.
- Vulnerable narcissism is the one who uses arrogance to compensate for his insecurity.
- Grandiose narcissism really believes to be as perfect as is shown.
Find out more about narcissism in the following video.
Causes of Arrogance
There is no single cause of arrogance. In some cases, a person may become arrogant because of certain experiences they have lived through, but at other times there is no psychological reason or cause that can explain it.
1- Insecurity, low self-esteem
This is because we are comparing ourselves unconsciously with others all the time, to measure the progress we are making in what matters to us.
Arrogance serves as a defense mechanism. It’s a way to protect our self-esteem and self-worth. It is a way to hide and compensate for insecurity, inferiority, lack of self-confidence.
Arrogance helps us to reject others before they can reject us. It’s a way to prevent them from hurting us. It is, therefore, more common to behave arrogantly towards strangers, out of fear of rejection.
If we are emotionally insecure, showing ourselves to be superior to others or showing off our qualities or achievements will help us feel better in the short term. However, it is not an effective long-term strategy, for several reasons:
- Once we’re alone, we’ll feel just as insecure.
- No one likes to be next to someone arrogant, so people are going to move away from you, making you feel worse and worse.
- They may not reject you but you won’t have intimate relationships or ties which might lead to depression.
2- You’ve done great things
In many cases, a person becomes arrogant because they have managed to go so far and have won achievements that for others are hard to achieve. Doing something extraordinary that almost no one can achieve stimulates our sense of self-worth, sometimes to the point of seeing others as less important.
3- Need for approval
Arrogance makes people care a great deal about what others think of them. They depend on the approval of others. Sometimes, people behave arrogantly to win attention that they can’t get otherwise.
It is true for those people who, being arrogant, have gained a lot of attention in the past, so they have continued to do so. In these cases, once they stop getting that attention, they stop behaving that way.
Arrogance: Characteristics- How do we identify it?
What’s an arrogant person like? Below we detail the main characteristics of arrogant people. Not all these characteristics or signs are always present at the same time. There are different degrees of arrogance and you can be arrogant to a greater or lesser degree, like any other personality trait.
1- Excessive desire to receive praise from others
A characteristic of arrogant people is that they constantly seek others admiration, by showing what they have achieved. They feel great love to those who adore and praise them but hate towards others who are indifferent.
2- Constantly speaks of himself and his achievements
His favorite subject is about himself, what he has done, what he has bought, what has happened to him. He also loves to be the center of attention. They tend to attract attention at any social gathering. The whole conversation revolves around him. If someone starts talking about something else, he or she immediately tries to get the attention back on himself, if necessary by interrupting others.
3- Pleasing at first
A haughty and arrogant person is usually charming when you meet them. His extroversion and charisma captivate many, but this does not usually last long because behind it is the lack of empathy, contempt, selfishness, and resentment.
4- Overcompensate for their weaknesses
They usually speak loudly, are stubborn, dress and put on makeup in such a way as to attract attention. In this way they hide their insecurities, executing behaviors that show their power.
5- Have problems creating relationships
Pride and arrogance separate others. Not only because no one likes to be around someone who thinks they’re more valuable than others but because these people often think they don’t need anyone. They themselves are enough. Although the truth is that isolation, in the long run, makes us very uneasy. Arrogance reflects an interpersonal quality which sometimes includes a desire to overpower others.
6- They don’t recognize their mistakes and don’t receive criticisms well.
For arrogant people everything they do is fine. They are never wrong, and they always find a justification for their mistakes “I didn’t receive the information on time”,”It was not explained clearly”.
If they receive criticism, they act defensively and don’t even listen to what they are being told.
7- They find it difficult to ask for forgiveness
According to arrogant people, they do nothing wrong, they will neither ask for forgiveness nor apologize. For them, the problem is in the other person.
8- They are intolerant of those who are not like them
Arrogant people criticize others quickly, emphasizing the mistakes and weaknesses of those who do not meet their high standards. They need to correct others mistakes and even make others fail to highlight their weaknesses.
Arrogant people only talk to those who think they deserve their attention.
Arrogance Vs Self-esteem
It seems logical to think that having a lot of self-esteem can trigger arrogant behavior. That arrogance and self-confidence is part of a continuum, that is, if I have adequate self-esteem but it continuously grows more and more, there will come a point where I can become an arrogant person. However, that’s not how it works.
As we have seen, an arrogant person, deep down, has a great insecurity in himself and a lack of self-esteem. Therefore, arrogance is contrary to good self-esteem. If a person with low self-esteem goes to therapy to increase it, he or she will not become arrogant. Instead, he will become someone who believes in their skills and virtues but also recognizes their weaknesses and works to compensate them in a healthy way.
Reasons that Arrogant People Tend to Succeed
Arrogant behaviors and arrogance can benefit some people despite it being a negative quality.
- Arrogant people express anger. Arrogance has been found to be positively linked to the expression of anger. This sometimes is related to intimidation which in turn is related to success.
- Arrogant people are difficult. Authors have found that people who are rated as arrogant by their supervisors and peers tend to score very low on agreeableness (personality). In other words, they are difficult people. People tend to skip dealing with a difficult person and in turn give in, this being positive for the arrogant person.
- Arrogant people are dominant. Dominance can have all kinds of benefits. Socially dominant people have a tendency for stealing the show, making it difficult to outshine them.
- Arrogant people think that they are superior. Arrogance shares traits with narcissism. Arrogant people believe that they are superior to others, on occasions this might be beneficial socially.
- Arrogant people attack individuals. Ever try to argue an issue with someone and then suddenly it gets personal? Awful, am I right? Well this empowers the arrogant person, while the other person retracts.
Here is a video on the difference between arrogance and humility. Particularly when it comes to promoting yourself for a job some people believe that it might be arrogant. Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith speak about this difference.
Arrogance Vs Pride
There are two types of pride:
- Authentic pride: when we feel good about ourselves when we feel confident and productive and it relates to being agreeable and emotionally stable.
- Hubristic pride: when it involves egoism and arrogance, this relates to being disagreeable,
agressive, being prone to sham, etc.
When you improve your
How to deal with arrogance?
- If they say anything hurtful to you, tell them. Don’t keep it bottled up. They tend to be so attentive to themselves that they don’t even realize the damage they do to others.
- Point out that what he says is his opinion and that others may have other points of view, that he does not have the absolute truth.
- He interrupts and only talks about himself, tell him:”Forgive me for cutting you off, but I’d like to tell you something.”
- If he says something arrogant, don’t be afraid to tell him, but without attacking him but rather making him see that it wasn’t his intention (even if it was):”That sounded a little arrogant”, or “I’m sure you didn’t want to sound so arrogant, didn’t you?” or “Do you realize how arrogant that sounded?”
- Have compassion and patience with an arrogant person, because they don’t really know how to act in any other way.
Tips for an arrogant person
After reading all this, do you think you can be arrogant? Realizing this is a big step forward.
- Just because you did something great doesn’t mean you’re better than anyone else. You have your flaws like everyone else, and that doesn’t make you a bad person. Sometimes it’s scary to recognize our weaknesses because we feel vulnerable and it’s normal. But if we don’t recognize them and confront them, we will end up alone, isolated, with no one to count on.
- Understand and accept that others have their own views, which may be very different from yours. No one has the absolute truth. Having different opinions can be very enriching. Don’t despise others because they think differently. Listen to what they have to say, they may surprise you.
- Cultivate your self-esteem. You don’t need to despise others or dominate them to feel valid. We’re all valuable.
- Go to a professional if you don’t know how to stop your arrogance.
This article is originally in Spanish written by Andrea García Cerdán.
Psicóloga General Sanitaria y sexóloga. Deseosa de mejorar la calidad de vida de las personas mediante la práctica clínica y la comunicación a través de la red.