5 subtle signs you’re giving off an arrogant vibe (without realizing it)

We’ve all met people who come across as arrogant. We want nothing more than to get away from them. 

But what if that person is you? 

None of us want to seem full of ourselves, but sometimes behaviors that seem arrogant can sneak in unintentionally. 

In my early twenties, it was me. 

It wasn’t until a colleague and friend pointed out that the way I was behaving made me seem like a know-it-all. I was aware that not everyone in the office gelled with my way of working but I had no idea they saw me as arrogant. 

It wasn’t easy to hear, but my friend was right. When I made changes to the behaviors he pointed out, people seemed to like me a lot more, and things at work got easier, a lot easier, 

So, today, consider me like that friend of mine. 

I don’t mean to preach or tell you what to do. I mean to help you avoid some of the mistakes I was making. 

Let’s dive in. 

1) You offer advice without being asked for it

When friends are venting about problems, many of us have a natural instinct to jump in with solutions. Well, at least that’s my instinct.

I used to jump right to “Have you tried…” or “You know what worked for me…”. I’d do it with my friends, family members, colleagues…I didn’t even think about it.

But sometimes, people just want to be heard. They want us to empathize with them rather than bombard them with solutions and advice. 

While we might have the best of intentions in giving such solutions, it can come across like we are a bit of a know-it-all

Of course, that’s not the way we see it; we are trying to help. But trust me, that is the way it comes across to a lot of people. 

So, what did I change?

Well, now I simply ask, “Are you looking for my advice on this, or just need me to listen?” This shows care while avoiding assumptions. 

Give it a shot. It might surprise you how often people actually ask you just to listen. 

2) You value the ‘right answer’ over all else

Do you often find yourself focused on proving your point, not necessarily because you want to be right but because you feel like having the most accurate information benefits everyone?

I did. 

In discussions, whether they were professional or personal, I was invested in getting to the ‘right answer’ or the most logical conclusion rather than appreciating the more feeling-based viewpoints around me. 

This pursuit of correctness, though well-intentioned, was sometimes perceived as arrogance. As my colleague made me realize, I was dismissing others’ contributions, valuing accuracy over the collaborative nature of discussions.

I’ve since learned the importance of balancing the quest for the right answer with respecting and valuing different perspectives, even if those perspectives are based more on feeling than logic. 

Now, I try to approach conversations with the mindset, “What can I learn from this?” instead of, “We need to take into account that fact that…”. 

3) You like to play devil’s advocate 

I used to take pride in being the devil’s advocate in every discussion. Whether it was a casual chat about movies or a serious conversation about work policies, I found myself always taking the opposing stance. 

I would do it even when I agreed, but hey, that’s why we say “play” devil’s advocate, no? 

My intention was to stimulate thought-provoking discussion and maybe shed light on overlooked aspects.

On reflection, however, I noticed a pattern: my constant challenging of ideas, was not seen as constructive by a whole lot of people. It was coming off as if I always believed I knew better or had a more insightful perspective.

Now, I make a conscious effort to first acknowledge and validate others’ viewpoints before gently offering an alternative perspective. And sometimes, I just agree or stay neutral, especially if contradicting doesn’t add value to the conversation. 

4) You often reference your own past experiences 

Have you ever caught yourself responding to someone’s story with a similar experience of your own, overshadowing their moment?

This was a habit I had to consciously work on eliminating, too. 

Whenever friends or colleagues shared their experiences, whether it was a challenging work situation, a personal achievement, or even a random incident, I had a tendency to immediately jump in with a similar story of my own. 

I was trying to show empathy through shared experiences. However, it didn’t always come across that way.

By doing this, we can cause others to feel unheard and overshadowed. While we are attempting to connect, it can actually seem like we are diverting the attention to ourselves, making their stories about us.

Now, I make a conscious effort to listen fully before responding. If I do reference my experiences, I ensure it’s brief and relevant, quickly steering the conversation back to them. 

5) You correct others’ minor inaccuracies 

During a co-worker’s presentation early in my career in finance, I noticed a small typo on one of the slides. Trying to be helpful, I whispered to my colleague something like, “Not a big deal, but there’s a typo on slide three.” My intention was to help by pointing out a small oversight that could be quickly fixed.

I would do things like this all the time. 

I didn’t realize the error in my ways until that friend I mentioned at the start of this post pointed out to me how corrections like this can be perceived as belittling, as if I am asserting my intellectual superiority.

That is, many people will see this as nitpicking rather than constructive feedback. And I mean, in a way, they are right. If everyone understands what it’s supposed to say, then what’s the problem, right? 

Right. But for those of us inclined toward attention to detail, it’s just a natural reaction. 

Taking his observation on board, I learned to gauge when such corrections were necessary and when they were not. In formal or educational settings, where accuracy is paramount, such corrections might be valuable. But in casual, everyday conversations, they can disrupt the flow and alienate others. 

Now, I try to focus more on the essence of what is being communicated rather than on insignificant errors. 

The bottom line

Subtle signs of arrogance often stem from well-intentioned behaviors, like offering solutions, striving for accuracy, or sharing personal experiences. 

However, it’s crucial to balance these tendencies with real empathy and respect for others’ perspectives. 

Being mindful of how we engage in conversations and being open to feedback can help us avoid unintentional arrogance and foster more meaningful, respectful interactions.

As always, I hope you found some value in this article. 

Until next time. 

Mal James

Mal James

Mal James Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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