Winning instructions – the thin line between confidence and arrogance

Julian O'Dell
Julian O’Dell

Many experts consider there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but the chasm between the impact of the two types of behaviour is enormous.

A strong faith in one’s capabilities is naturally a strength, however the characteristics borne out of that are not necessarily seen as positive if they stray across the aforementioned line. There has been a fair bit of coverage about the manner in which some estate agents conduct themselves and the debate over certain behavioural approaches can get pretty heated.

We often enjoy (and are attracted by) confidence in people. We are, conversely, repelled by arrogance. So, ‘Six of the Best’ tips will ensure you and/or your employees are firmly in the former category.

1. Eye Contact. Confident people look you in the eye and make you feel like the most important person in their world at that moment. Arrogant individuals are far more interested in themselves so will often be looking at their phone or looking past you for someone else to talk to.

2. Punctuality. Confident folk are timely whereas arrogant ones see their own time as more valuable than anyone else’s so will see them being late as unimportant – even to the extent that an apology won’t be forthcoming. This might seem a small point in the overall rules adhered to by confident people, but it is not to be underestimated in the quest to avoid being perceived as arrogant. Check out your own feelings next time someone is late to meet you for a scheduled appointment!

3. Listen. Confident people are respectful of others’ views and seek ways to glean information from others. The arrogant ones don’t listen – their opinion and input are by far the most important. As a result, they will be far more focused on forming their response to what they are vaguely hearing as opposed to digesting the detail. Talking over people, correcting or ignoring others’ contributions, forcibly delivering an opinion and blindly sticking to it whatever the contrary evidence might be are all habits of the arrogant.

4. Admit you don’t know it all. So many people are unable to do this, particularly ones guilty of arrogance. You are unlikely to hear the phrase, “That is an excellent question and I actually don’t know the answer, so I’ll find out” issued from an arrogant person’s lips. Confident people are good but not perfect and it is an important step to take to acknowledge that there are others who can do things better than you, whether through greater experience or natural ability. Such people are perceived as a threat by arrogant people, whereas a confident person will see the best in a better person and learn from them rather than seeing their superior ability as a threat to their own value.

5. Don’t boast or be guilty of one-upmanship. Nobody likes a show off. There are also those types who insist on telling you that their holiday was somewhere slightly further afield or more expensive than yours, that their house is in a better area than where you live or that they are driving a make or model of car superior to yours. Confident people don’t feel the need to play the big ‘I am’ – their accomplishments do all the talking. As Vitor Belfort said, “Arrogance needs advertising. Confidence speaks for itself.”

6. Be real. Confidence is tricky to fake. In trying to do so, arrogance is often the perception. but I have witnessed people, whom I know to be lacking confidence, employing tactics to appear confident. This can be feigning self-assuredness by body language (the fake strut/swagger always makes me smile) or adopting an air of superiority. True confidence cannot be faked. It is borne out of acquiring a high level of knowledge about your role, company, market and competitors. It is about a genuine air of authority built upon that knowledge. It is about hard work, building up a track record, doing a great job but accepting that you are not perfect. It is about constantly seeking ways to close the gap between performance and perfection.

We all know how huge a part trust plays in building successful relationships in estate agency. Confidence is about trust too – the trust in you.

If you have built that trust in yourself, confidence will naturally follow. Meanwhile, for many people, arrogance will be worn as a mask to hide low self-esteem and a dawning realisation that they really aren’t all they pretend to be. Worse still, some can’t actually see their weaknesses at all.

An old adage holds true – “There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance. It’s called humility. Confidence smiles, arrogance smirks…”

Julian O’Dell is head of Marvellous Training Solutions.


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  1. Simon Bradbury

    Excellent item – Thanks Julian!

    1. janbyerss


      This is as basic as it gets – it just common sense in any relationship

      I did not need training to know this it is instinctive

      1. Simon Bradbury

        I respectfully disagree janbyers. Common sense does not necessarily mean common practice, though I’m genuinely impressed that you… ” did not need training to know this it is instinctive” Me? Well I think that the following quote from this excellent article merits contemplation for us all… ” There’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance. It’s called humility. Confidence smiles, arrogance smirks…”

        1. FAbode

          I think janbyerss has just proved the whole point of the article!


      2. AgentQ73

        That’s absolutely amazing janbyerss, surpassed yourself there.


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