Originally appeared on Inc.
I heard someone say once that there is a fine line between arrogance and confidence and I immediately thought: That’s not true. There’s a huge difference.
I feel some people exemplify the difference perfectly. Malala Yousafzai is confident enough to talk with world leaders and ask them to change their policies. Yet she never seems arrogant.
Why is this important? It’s an important distinction because we like working with confident people, but we don’t like engaging with arrogant people. A UCLA study concluded that likable people ask questions, are genuine and honest, don’t seek attention, and smile (among other things). How people perceive you in your social channels can be very important in your career and business.
As the owner of a digital branding and publicity company, I know that perception is everything. If you seem confident, you will thrive. If you seem arrogant, you will alienate people. It’s that simple and that important. Here are some differences between the two and how both approaches can impact your ability to connect with others.
Arrogance is a thin veil for insecurity. The irony of arrogance is that it screams insecurity. People who seem arrogant often don’t take ownership for their short-comings, and use their inflated sense of self as a defense mechanism against criticism. Arrogance prevents us from showing our vulnerability which is necessary if we want to resonate with people online and off.
Confident people are okay with mistakes. You can be confident and still say, “I messed up.” Not only are confident people okay with mistakes, they often share their mistakes openly. Confident people don’t consider mistakes as a reflection of who they are, but as learning opportunities. Showing people that you are real and flawed (because we all are) is actually an excellent way to connect with people and establish trust.
Listen for best results. People who don’t listen often seem arrogant. Listening is a key factor for providing value for your colleagues, audience or customers. Social media gives all of us the unprecedented opportunity to listen to what others need and respond with empathy and understanding.
Confident people are comfortable with the success of others. Confident people are self-accepting and comfortable with who they are, and who You are. They don’t need to put others down to lift themselves up. People with confidence can see the best in others and happily celebrate their successes.
Confidence attracts people. Every one of us is insecure about something. Confident people know this, even express it. They realize that their short comings do not define them. We tend to gravitate towards people who seem vulnerable and human.
It is important to step outside of yourself and observe. Are you coming across as arrogant or confident? Are you sharing your successes or coming off as self-congratulatory? The difference between the two isn’t slight. Arrogance will negatively impact your relationships and opportunities. Confidence will attract people, build relationships and create opportunities. Moving away from arrogance (I’m #1 always under all conditions) and into confidence (We are #1 together often, but sometimes we mess up) can propel you forward in your career and in your life.
Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She’s the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler, Spring 2016). Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more. A nationally recognized speaker and online branding expert, Fauzia writes for the Huffington Post, MariaShriver.com and MindBodyGreen. For online publicity, book publishing and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke).