Few things in life feel as infuriating as the smug superiority of an arrogant person.
Confidence is one thing, but the cocky personality traits that come along with arrogance go way beyond self-assurance.
So how can you spot and disarm a truly arrogant person?
Knowing how to deal with arrogant people lies in understanding the big secret that they’re trying to hide from you.
What are the characteristics of an arrogant person?
Arrogance is essentially believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people.
I’m sure most of us would agree that arrogance is an incredibly unattractive trait in anyone.
So perhaps rather oddly, many of us are prone to displaying arrogance from time to time, even in a mild form. (I hold my hands up, because I know I certainly am.)
Valuing your own time, beliefs, or ideas above others. Trying to prove to someone your worth by telling them what you have or what you can do. Trying to make yourself feel better by putting others down.
These are all subtle forms of arrogance that can crop up in our daily lives.
But what about those truly arrogant personality types?
Here are some of the characteristics you can expect from people who are next-level conceited.
15 signs of an arrogant person
1) They brag
Excessive bragging is one of the most blatant signs of a cocky person.
Whether it’s material wealth, status, or certain accomplishments, they need you to know how well they are doing.
You may notice that if you are celebrating some type of success, rather than congratulate you, an arrogant person will engage in one-upmanship.
They will likely turn things back around on themselves to gloat about their own achievements or “wins” in life.
2) They are rude
Arrogance often goes hand in hand with pushiness. Which is one of the reasons arrogant people can be incredibly rude in social settings.
They believe they are more important than others. They lack the consideration to think about other people’s feelings or needs. They always put themselves first.
All of these factors combine to create impolite, abrupt, and even nasty behavior towards others.
You may find that arrogant people have a short fuse and will easily snap or talk down to you. That’s particularly the case when they view somebody as being in an “inferior” position to them — for example, the waiter at a restaurant.
3) They need to be right
Disagree with an arrogant person at your peril because they’re unlikely to let it drop.
They usually have a grasping need to be right in every situation — even apparently trivial matters.
Never letting an argument go and fiercely protecting their opinions and beliefs is a sign of their fragile ego.
They often adopt a fixed rather than growth mindset which closes them off from considering other people’s points of view.
But actually, adapting to the growth mindset is crucial to unleashing your personal power.
I learned this after watching this excellent free video from the shaman Rudá Iandê. His life mission is to help people restore balance to their lives and unlock their creativity and potential.
Maybe that’s how you can help arrogant people handle the urge to be right.
4) They seek admiration
The reason arrogant people are often boastful is that deep down they want adoration.
They need to be recognized as a cut above the rest, and so seek external validation.
Despite outwardly seeming to have an inflated opinion of themselves, in reality, many arrogant people care a great deal about what others think of them.
This craving for attention can make arrogant people the life and soul of the party, and even quite charming in certain circumstances.
They very often seek the limelight and enjoy all eyes being on them.
5) They exaggerate their abilities
Poet and novelist Charles Bukowski highlighted perfectly:
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
Forget imposter syndrome, arrogant people have the opposite issue.
They tend to overestimate their capability.
Initially, this assertion can see arrogant people smooth-talking their way into better jobs or positions of power.
Ultimately though this delusional self-belief in their own ability will be discovered when they fail to put their money where their mouth is.
6) They have a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude
Go along with what an arrogant person says and all might be smooth sailing. But as soon as you challenge their worldview or way of doing things, you will quickly find yourself in their bad books.
They have to have things their own way.
One of the biggest struggles in dealing with someone who always thinks they know best is that they are closed off to considering they could be wrong.
Closed-mindedness and stubbornness mean many arrogant people won’t negotiate or back down.
In their mind, your options are to accept what they say or suffer the consequences.
7) They lack self-awareness
If you could hold a mirror up to arrogant people for them to see the reality of their behavior, they may not like the reflection staring back at them.
But the mirror on their wall, much like that in the tale of Snow White, tells them only what they want to hear.
Arrogant people lack the skill of self-awareness to objectively question or evaluate their own qualities, actions, and feelings.
Without the ability to truly see themselves, they find it difficult to change unhealthy or destructive behavior.
8) They see everything as a competition
Excessive competitiveness is another arrogant personality trait.
All of life is a competition to them, and so they seek to win rather than collaborate.
The authors of a study into arrogance concluded that within arrogant people:
“Their combination of the “dark” traits of narcissism, psychopathy, and aggression leads them to be constantly vigilant for opportunities that allow them to edge out people they perceive as competitors. Because they value winning above all else, they’ll also be likely to enter into arguments.”
Arrogant people see the world as a dog-eat-dog place, where they need to dominate to succeed.
9) They talk over others
One of the perhaps more subtle forms of arrogance is constantly interrupting or speaking over people.
Not only does it show a lack of patience to wait to speak, but consistently cutting in is a way of signaling that what they have to say is more important than you.
If an arrogant person feels that they are no longer the center of attention within the conversation they may butt in to reassert their need for domination.
10) They are disagreeable
“Actually I think you’ll find…”, “No, you’re wrong”, and “I completely disagree” are common phrases you will hear time and time again from the lips of arrogant people.
Far from simply playing devil’s advocate, they enjoy highlighting whenever they think someone is wrong because doing so makes them feel right.
Arrogant people often challenge everything that is said to a pointless and excessive degree.
Maybe sometimes they have a point, but it’s less about “righting wrongs” and more about trying to assert their own intellectual superiority on others.
11) They are defensive
Being challenged or criticized for an arrogant person is too great of a threat to their ego.
That’s why at the first sign of either of these things arrogant people will likely become incredibly defensive.
Because actually deep down they are insecure, they feel the need to defend or protect themselves from any perceived threat.
Sometimes that threat can be as little as a difference in opinion or being proven wrong about something.
12) They give off an air of superiority
It could be the way they look at you or even the way they totally ignore you. It might be the tone of voice they use when they speak to you. Perhaps it’s the disregard they show.
There is usually something in the demeanor of a truly arrogant person which screams that they are overly sure of themselves.
This act that they put on might even border on delusions of grandeur.
However it shows up, they can have a smug and cocky way of carrying themselves.
13) They lack empathy
Compassion and understanding can be seen as weaknesses of an arrogant person.
That’s because displaying these characteristics actually takes incredible inner strength which arrogant people struggle with.
Because of this, they are often rude to the “little” people in life whilst sucking up to anyone they deem has value or matches their perceived status.
They find it difficult to see other people’s perspectives or understand people who are different from them.
14) They are self-obsessed
Arrogant people often make it all about them.
Their stories, their anecdotes, and their conversations tend to center around “me, me, me”.
Whilst studies have shown the key to happiness could actually be thinking of others above yourself, that is an alien concept to arrogant people.
If you have an arrogant friend, partner, or family member you may find yourself constantly discussing their lives whilst they seem disinterested in what’s going on with you.
15) They put others down
Arrogant people can seem cruel or mean at times.
In order to elevate themselves higher, their tactic can be to try to reduce the status of those around them.
This can be overt or passive-aggressive, but they will actively point out perceived flaws or mistakes of others.
Whenever an arrogant person belittles someone around them it is so that they can feel better about themselves having “proved” they are superior.
The psychology of an arrogant person
Before learning how best to deal with arrogance, it’s probably useful to understand what makes someone this way in the first place.
Arrogance in someone can be triggered by a variety of things.
They may have achieved something significant in life and start to see themselves as more successful than others. On the contrary, underachieving may make somebody feel like they need to overcompensate by overly asserting their worth to arrogant levels.
They may be desperately seeking attention or use arrogance as a defense mechanism to protect their fragile ego.
Whatever the reason, what an arrogant person is desperately trying to hide from the world is that their arrogance is a sign of insecurity and fragility.
Their ultimate aim is to feel better about themselves, and they try to achieve this by overpowering others.
How to deal with an arrogant person
There’s no denying it, arrogance within someone can be infuriating.
So it’s tempting to wonder how to beat an arrogant person or perhaps just how to humble an arrogant person.
Yet the nature of arrogance means that other less confrontational tactics might be your best bet.
In this way, protecting yourself and finding ways to handle, rather than dominate, arrogant people will make life easier for you in the long run.
STEP 1: Focus on your own self-worth
Successfully dealing with anyone difficult in our lives always starts with ourselves.
Your own self-confidence and self-belief will be the firm foundations that make you unshakeable — even in the face of arrogance.
When you feel good about yourself, other people’s petty words or attempts to belittle you tend not to have as much of an impact.
Sure, arrogance may still be incredibly irritating, but you won’t absorb it or let it get totally under your skin.
Arrogance in others is more destructive to you when you believe their digs.
It’s a truth of life that the more we learn to love ourselves, the easier it becomes to forgive others their faults.
Whenever you are confronted by people lacking in self-awareness, it means you have to be even more mindful.
STEP 2: Learn to bite your tongue
Looking for the silver lining in the cloud, handling an arrogant person is an opportunity for you to strengthen your own positive personality traits.
Mainly diplomacy and tolerance.
Although you might worry this allows an arrogant person to “get away with” their behavior, it’s actually more about not allowing their behavior to get to you.
Once you understand that arrogance is generated not from inner confidence, but the absolute opposite — you can try to take pity on them.
For all their bluster, they most likely feel like a very small person. So you don’t really need to take them down a peg or two.
When you feel triggered by arrogant behavior, ask yourself if the person is being driven by insecurity.
STEP 3: Don’t waste your energy
Is it your role to change an arrogant person? No. Will you be able to change them even if it was your job? Probably not.
For that reason, and for the sake of making your life easier, it’s important to pick your battles.
Whilst it can be tempting to meet fire with fire, it’s unlikely to get you anywhere and will most likely leave you feeling angry and depleted.
If you match their challenging or confrontational behavior, you will likely lock heads.
Tact is usually your best ally in situations with an arrogant person.
Letting go of the small things and asking yourself whether it is better to be right or happy can help you to avoid unnecessary arguments.
Have they said something completely untrue that needs correcting? Try to point it out with kindness and compassion.
Are they rambling on and on about themselves? Try changing the conversation.
STEP 4: Set boundaries
Of course, tolerance and understanding don’t mean letting an arrogant person walk all over you.
In fact, even more so it’s important to set firm boundaries and be clear about what you will and won’t put up with.
That may mean working on your assertiveness. In a similar way to a classic bully, arrogant people often prey on perceived weakness.
Clear communication and politely yet clearly saying how you feel and what you think can help establish those boundaries.
For example, “I’m sure you didn’t intend to, but that hurt my feelings” or “Sorry to interrupt you there but…”
As soon as they sense that they cannot push you around or treat you poorly, they are more likely to seek out an easier target for their obnoxious behavior.
STEP 5: Distance yourself from them
As they say, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.
That means simply avoiding an unpleasant situation can be the most sensible thing you can do.
There is no shame in prioritizing your own wellbeing.
If taking the above steps doesn’t defuse the situation with an arrogant person, try to stay out of their way as much as possible.
If you don’t need to be around them, ask yourself whether you even want to spend time with this person.
If cutting them out of your life is more challenging (a coworker or relative for example) then keep contact to a minimum and refuse to make them a priority.