The Fine Line Between Confidence and Arrogance

There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Here's what I mean...

  • Confidence is the feeling or belief that someone can rely on you.
  • Arrogance is having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities.

Here are some differences between the two.

    1. Arrogance is exaggerated, meaning it's "larger" than reality. Confidence is a suitable dose of reality.
    2. Confidence is given to you, over time, by others. Arrogance, on the other hand, is something you give off.
    3. Arrogance can be masked for a short time as confidence.
    4. Perhaps most importantly: Confidence is good. Arrogance is bad.

    Ask them about a time they had to "eat crow" or admit they were wrong. Confident people willingly share, but arrogant ones have trouble with it.

    The moral is this: Prospects and customers want to deal with a confident salesperson. They'll eagerly run away from an arrogant one.

    So, as a sales manager, how do you find salespeople who are on the confident side of the spectrum? After all, it can be difficult to tell whether a particular candidate is unnecessarily arrogant or appropriately confident during a short interview.

    In fact, it's sometimes even difficult for people to tell how they come across to others. And, that's for good reason; self-perception can be vastly different from reality. Here are a few ways I've used to tell whether someone is arrogant in an interview setting:

    • Make the interview a looooonnnng one. Arrogance can be masked as confidence for only so long.
    • Use an assessment that measures a person's self-perception. Nothing like knowing what's beneath the surface!


    Jeb Brooks

    As the President and CEO of The Brooks Group, Jeb Brooks is responsible for carrying forward the nearly 40-year legacy of building world-class sales organizations. Having grown up in the business, helping organizations reach their full potential through transformational change is a part of Jeb’s DNA. Jeb's passion for sales and sales management developed at an early age when he began attending sales conferences with his father (and The Brooks Group's Founder) the late Bill Brooks.

    Published on August 13, 2010

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