How to Become More Confident Without Looking Arrogant

Arrogance is so off-putting, isn’t it?

Being exposed to someone who brags and tries to look superior is deeply unpleasant, even when it is just for a moment. Most of us value humility and don’t want to become “that person” who is full of herself/himself. I get it.

The problem is that, for fear of looking arrogant, many administrators struggle with self-appreciation and self-confidence. The simple idea of giving themselves credit, feeling good about their accomplishments, or loving themselves more, is terribly uncomfortable.

I can’t even count how many times I have heard “I’d like to be more confident but I don’t want to become arrogant.”

Let me say this loud and clear: becoming more confident cannot and will not make you look arrogant. Here is why.

What is arrogance really about?

Arrogance comes from a deep-seated fear of not being enough. Arrogant people tend to be highly self-critical and try very hard to feel worthy. They desperately need external validation. Their behavior doesn’t stem from too much confidence but from strong insecurities.

Arrogant people look for ways to feel superior to others. They will often collect degrees, awards, accomplishments, impressive job tiles, and other external signs of worth but that will never be enough to make them feel secure.

They are terrified of being “less than” so they look for metrics to make judgements and comparisons. They create a sense of self-worth by being better than others. They may do something distasteful such as putting someone down, as a way to make themselves feel better in comparison.

Name-dropping, bragging, and judging are unsuccessful attempts at soothing their aching hearts. They try hard to convince themselves that they are good enough.

They are not easily approachable because they build protective walls around them as a way to avoid emotional pain. They also tend to be highly critical of others which prevents them from building quality professional relationships. Their intensity makes them look unfriendly.

They can get defensive or even verbally abusive because their insecurities make it too painful to hear feedback. Anything that threatens their self-worth must be avoided or destroyed. They tend to see other people as adversaries and communication quickly becomes confrontational.

So you see, arrogance has nothing to do with having too much confidence! It comes from insecurities.

What is confidence really about?

Confident people know their worth so they don’t need to talk about it. They have nothing to prove and can focus their energy on their work and on helping others.

Confidence is the opposite of arrogance. Confident administrators do not look for external validation and do not make comparisons to feel that they are good enough. They have clarity on their own standards and values. Their internal compass tells them what to do in order to feel that they are being their best and doing their best.

Confident administrators don’t have an inner bully running the show. They don’t even have an inner judge watching and criticizing their every action because they are not focused on themselves. They are focused on service. They have a job to do and they are doing it to the best of their ability. They have no time or energy to waste on self-doubt.

Their goal is not to gain anyone’s approval because they have a strong sense of self. While they do not need to hear what people think of them in order to feel that they are enough, they genuinely want to know what people think and feel because it’s essential to leadership.

Confident leaders do not need to protect their ego and do not take things personally. They are mature and secure enough to receive feedback and input from their peers, their supervisor(s), faculty, staff, and everyone else they are here to serve.

They don’t need self-protection and that is why they are so easy to relate to and to appreciate. They trust in their ability to handle whatever challenge may appear next. They trust that things will work out because they value people and their unique expertise.

Confident people like to stretch and grow. They are not afraid of the unknown. Their thinking patterns are not driven by fear but by trust and appreciation. And that’s what makes all the difference.

How to become more confident

3 Fundamental shifts

  1. Stop thinking about yourself so much. Instead, focus on providing value to others.

  2. Stop all judgments and comparisons. Instead, focus on appreciation and connection.

  3. Stop trying to earn your own approval. Instead, learn to love and accept yourself as you are right now.

To become more confident, you will need to observe where your attention goes and what stories you tend to play in your head. Your personal transformation will start with more self-awareness.

The second part will be to become more intentional and choose deliberately what you do with your mind rather than letting old thinking patterns control you. With practice and repetition, you can re-wire your brain and completely change how you experience life. 

Follow these 10 steps to become confident and secure.

1.     Write down what standards you choose for yourself. Be clear on what it is going to take for you to be able to feel good about yourself.

2.     List the steps you are going to take and commit to following-through.

3.     Create accountability to make sure you won’t let yourself down.

4.     Make a conscious choice to stop all judgements of yourself and others. Stop all external comparisons. The vision that will fuel your growth is what you want for yourself, independently of what others are doing.

5.     As you see yourself making progress, give yourself credit and appreciation, just like you would for someone else.

6.     When your inner-critic surfaces, give yourself more love and empathy, just like you would for someone else.

7.     Give yourself as much understanding and compassion, as you would to someone else.

8.     Give yourself permission to feel worthy now. You are enough. You are loved. You are safe. Where you are today is perfect for today. You can want more for yourself and achieve more but first, be at peace with the present situation.

9.     Find even more purpose and fulfillment in your work by stepping up to a higher level of leadership and strength. Remember that your job isn’t about you. It’s about service.

10.  Now that you feel secure, remember to let trust drive your decisions and behavior. Fear is a thing of the past. You are free from insecurities. Be your glorious self and an exceptional servant leader.

You can do it!

If you tend to worry about what other people think of you, if your inner-critic is holding you back from greatness, or if other types of fears are preventing you from loving your life and career, I invite you to speak with me and discover how, together, we can build your confidence.

About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits.  Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset. For more information and free resources visit