Sooner or later we all come across arrogant people in this life.
These are the kind of cocky individuals who can make our workplace a living hell and turn each day into a struggle for sanity.
In some cases, they can’t be avoided.
That’s when you need tools to bring these haughty hombres down a peg.
How to humble an arrogant person
1) Have rock-solid confidence in your own worth
The first Achilles heel that an arrogant person goes for is your insecurity.
They want to provoke you, short-circuit your confidence, and have you doubting yourself, your values and your actions.
They want to overpower you.
The best way to stop this from even starting is to have rock-solid confidence in your own worth.
Think of it like weight training: this cocky person is there to test your limits.
If you give in too easily they will sense a victim and become even more arrogant.
If they can tell that you are fulfilled and sure in your sense of self, they will stop trying to bully you and think twice about being such a boor.
“There is nothing they can say or do that can undermine you.
“Your sense of confidence and self-worth will prohibit you from being vulnerable to an arrogant person’s total inability to relate to others and the sometimes noxious or cruel things that come out of their mouths.”
2) Let your actions talk louder than their words
Arrogant people tend to be full of talk.
If you want to know how to humble an arrogant person, start by doing a better job than them.
Success is the best form of revenge.
Demonstrate actual competence where they demonstrate only bragging and egotism.
If you’re working with an arrogant person who talks about how much better they are than everyone at your job, for example, then quietly go about your tasks.
When you end up working more effectively than them, they will be forced to weigh the evidence in front of their own eyes.
This can often work to bring about at least a small feeling of humility on their part.
After all, what good is endless talk if the results don’t match up to the rhetoric?
3) Tell them how their words hurt you or those you love
If an arrogant person is speaking hurtfully and crudely about various types of people or situations, let them know that it’s wrong.
Make it personal by explaining how the issues they’re speaking of affect you on an individual level.
For example, if they’re ranting against how lazy overweight people are and how they think everyone is too lazy, let this person know that your family member was very obese and died of heart problems.
Tell them that you’d appreciate it if they spoke more respectfully about the challenges that other people face which they may not fully understand.
“You can quickly put a stop to the negative talk by implying that someone close to you is a member of the group that the arrogant person is belittling,” advises Power of Positivity.
“This shocks them into the realization that their negative talk is not going to be tolerated, but is insulting to you personally as well.”
4) Set clear consequences for their arrogant actions and behavior
In certain ways, disrespectful and cocky people are like spoiled children.
They run wild with their words, actions and attitudes because they think there will be no consequences.
They expect to get what they want, hear what they want, and do what they want if they get the impulse to do so.
Show them that things don’t work this way by setting clear limits and establishing consequences for rude and arrogant behavior.
For example, if you have a family member who routinely comes to family get-togethers and criticizes everyone else, let them know that it’s making the rest of you uncomfortable and that he or she won’t be invited to the next one if the toxic behavior continues.
It can be especially hard to set limits when it’s with a loved one or close family member, but sometimes it’s the only way to humble them just a bit.
5) Refuse to play their game
It takes two to tango, it really does.
When an arrogant person plays their games, they’re looking around for someone else to join.
Without another player, the drama and provocations go nowhere and end up leaving them sad and deflated.
That’s why you need to try not to play their game to the best of their ability.
This is easier said than done, particularly if the cocky person’s words and actions are directly affecting your personal or professional life.
Try taking three deep breaths before responding to something terrible they have said or done.
Then explain in as calm a tone of voice as possible that you won’t be continuing in the conversation and wish them a nice day.
Sometimes this is the best you can do in stressful one-on-one situations with a disrespectful egotist.
“Arrogant people cause others to lose their temper and become their worst self.
“Observe your reactions with self-compassion and your long-term interest in mind,” notes psychology author Andrea Polard.
“Play the game of your life instead of trying to fit into someone else’s.”
6) Avoid opening up to them too much about personal subjects
Arrogant people love to arm themselves with personal information from other people and use it as ammunition.
If you open up about a fight with your girlfriend, they’re talking down to you about relationships an hour later while referencing the issues you’re having.
If you tell them you’ve been struggling with depression, suddenly your views on an important subject become skewed by you admitting that.
The list goes on:
Personal vulnerability can be wonderful, but in the hands of an arrogant individual, it can be used against you and trigger a downward spiral of conflict.
Even if your standard personality is quite open and vulnerable, do your best to guard your heart a little around an arrogant person.
They’re not going to treat it well, so don’t throw it out there for them to trample.
7) Do the last thing they expect you to do
Be their friend.
“An arrogant person may do their best to push your buttons and try to get under your skin.
“The best way to handle this is with friendliness and diplomacy.
“This will typically throw the person off their own game because they are looking for a specific reaction of hostility out of you.”
As I’ve said, don’t try to open up and expose your heart to them.
But be friendly and shoot them a smile. What’s the worst that can happen?
They respond with another hurtful comment or dismissive sneer.
So what? It’s their loss…
The best you can do sometimes is to offer the hand of friendship and give them the choice to take it.
Show the arrogant person you’re sincere and that you’re not attaching conditions to being on friendly terms.
You’re simply connecting human-to-human and choosing to overlook their current behavior in favor of a better potential you see underneath of their exterior.
8) Give them a progress narrative to work with
Another of the best things you can try to do is give the arrogant person something to build on.
When it comes to how to humble an arrogant person, sometimes the smartest idea is to tell them an example of personal progress that teaches them a lesson.
Speak about somebody you know or a figure from history and how their initial confidence and arrogance were shaken by something unexpected.
Then talk about how that person rebuilt and started over, becoming a better and more understanding person.
The arrogant person may be likely to brush it off, true, but if you make the narrative interesting and related to somebody inspiring from history or your own life then it can have an impact.
One of the things about cocky people is that they often adapt their behavior as a defense mechanism: it makes them feel safe to feel superior.
Show them how unsafe and limiting it can be to go through life that way. They may start to consider new possibilities of going through life in a humbler way.
9) Tell them you’re just plain bored with them
Another unexpected thing you can do to humble an arrogant person is telling them that they bore you.
They’ll be energized if they piss you off or cause some reaction, but if you let them know that their words and behavior are actually boring you and others it can cause them to do a double-take.
The arrogant person is ready for almost anything except being told that their behavior is…well…just plain boring.
They don’t want that.
“Does this person even notice when you are bored with the conversation? Arrogant people never notice this!”
But if you let them know, then they’ll start thinking.
And if that’s the reaction they start to get then they may start humbling themselves as a way to stop pushing people away.
Because in his or her heart, the arrogant individual feels alone and is looking for attention.
10) Stage an arrogance intervention
Related to the above point, sometimes an arrogant person needs more than one person to confront their behavior in order to change.
This is where an arrogance intervention comes into play.
However, this needs to be done right.
A group of people getting together and telling someone they’re a dick doesn’t tend to go over well.
It comes across really judgmental and egotistic.
The better way to do an arrogance intervention is through inclusion.
If it’s an office or family environment, get a group of you together and include the arrogant person in a task.
Make them see that they are appreciated but that the rest of you also have talents and skills to share.
This will humble them, since when they see what you all have to offer they will stop disregarding your contributions and writing you off so easily.
11) Explain to them that they’re being arrogant and rude
Sometimes arrogant people don’t realize they’re being cocky and overbearing.
It can become such an ingrained habit that they just default into big ego mode.
This is where you come in:
To let them know clearly and firmly that their behavior isn’t OK.
There’s no really nice way to do this and they might react angrily. The best you can do is avoid making it personal.
Just let them know objectively why their behavior is rubbing you and others the wrong way.
Emphasize that it’s nothing personal but that you’re just finding the way they approach people and situations is not working out well for you.
Focus on “I” statements, rather than accusations or diagnoses of what they’re doing or not doing.
After all, sometimes an arrogant person’s worst traits are what they don’t do, for example refusing to ever help clean up around home, or slacking off at work and expecting other subordinates to pick up the slack.
12) Be assertive but not aggressive
It’s easy to meet arrogance with arrogance. It’s also easy to become very submissive and apologetic.
The best approach is neither of these.
The best approach is firm neutrality. Be assertive in your interactions with the arrogant person, but not aggressive.
Don’t bend to their worldview or attitude, but at the same time don’t get enraged or begin personally tearing them down.
This is obviously easier said than done, but it is possible.
Just remember that all of us see the world in a different way and are informed by all sorts of formative experiences that shape how we act.
Often, behavior which seems very personally directed at us is the result of unconscious and habitual patterns that somebody else is locked in internally.
What seems like an insult targeted right at us and our existence is really just this other person playing out their personal psychodrama without realizing it.
13) Discover and resolve the roots of their insecurity
This is the master-level approach for how to humble an arrogant person.
If you know this person well and are able to have a decent conversation with them, then try to uncover the roots of their attitude.
The more you understand them the more you may be able to relate and help them move past an arrogant approach to life.
Many times there is deep trauma buried underneath that rude exterior.
When you acknowledge the pain and betrayal that’s under the surface it can often be the key that unlocks progress.
As an arrogant person begins to feel a tiny bit understood their hate and anger of the world will start to naturally melt away and they will emerge from their cocoon of superiority.
“Overconfident people are often quite insecure, and they cover up their insecurities through dominating and controlling others.”
14) Know when to seek out your own space
There are times when an arrogant person simply becomes too much.
At this point, it’s up to you to set your own limit and step aside.
If you’ve tried the other pointers on this list but they’re still not leading to results, then you need to prioritize yourself and your own wellbeing.
If a person chooses to continue in an arrogant and harmful way and you’ve done what you can to offer an alternative, then it’s time to go your own way.
Exit the situation if at all possible and seek out time and space alone or with other people who are more respectful.
If you can’t currently exit the situation because it’s your boss, a loved one or somebody you have a direct obligation to, then your best option is to completely limit your reactions, ignore them and seek out the company of more respectful people as much as possible.
Serving up a slice of humble pie
Arrogance is usually rooted in insecurity.
If you’re dealing with an arrogant person it can be easy to slide into anger, insults and dismissal.
Do your best to resist this impulse: communicate with the arrogant person and let them know the hurt and misunderstanding they are causing.
Show them a mirror of their own behavior and offer them a chance to shift the way they interact with those around them.
If they still don’t, then do your best to stay away until they think better of their approach to life.