Disarming Arrogance


The dictionary defines arrogance as offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride. Early in my career, I realized that I struggled to reach people who were arrogant. I inherently found them abrasive and off-putting. The main skill of arrogant people is to be defensive and guarded. And while I consider myself fairly skilled at navigating people’s defenses I just couldn’t navigate through their defenses. Until……. It occurred to me where arrogance stems from. As I alluded to earlier arrogance is a defense. One day I had a huge AHA moment. I felt as if I had stumbled into the secret language of the arrogant people. I want to share that secret with you so that you can navigate both relationships and communication with those people who are arrogant. What I have discovered is that most arrogant people are very insecure. In order to cope with the insecurity takes a certain amount of strength. Let me break this down farther for you: in order to cope with being very insecure and feeling less than; arrogant people act as if they believe they are better than everyone else.

I think there are arrogant individuals in every walk of life: at church, in the synagogue, at the Yoga place, at the gym, in your work place, and in your family. Therefore I wanted to give you some tools to help you disarm the arrogance and allow you to build a connection with the person. My tips are as follows:

  1. Look beyond: It’s crucial to look beyond the attitude and behavior and recognize the need behind it. Behind every behavior and attitude is an unspoken need. For example if I’m attempting to motivate someone to change and they are acting very arrogant; many times the need behind that is fear. Whether it’s fear of being judged or fear of not being able to change.
  2. Don’t take things personally: Prior to reading and applying The Four Agreements in my life, I struggled with this concept massively. Currently, however, I am good at maintaining focus on the reality that what other people say, think or do is not about me.
  3. Stay grounded: Grounding takes various shapes and forms, it’s best described as different for everyone. The concept behind grounding is that your focus on something external to distract yourself.
  4. Take the one down position: At the core of arrogance is a self defense mechanism. If you can engage the arrogant person in a type of interaction where they suspect that they are helping, teaching, guiding you it can reduce the arrogance.
  5. Boundaries: Solid boundaries are one of the best defenses. Once you have decided what is and is not acceptable it eliminates any room for them to manipulate you.   Once you have identified which boundaries you want to enforce, you will find it easier to navigate your own limits.
  6. Give up the challenge: So many people would be best served if they gave up the right to be offended. Disengage from the need or the lure of challenging the arrogant person. The term “nothing good will happen” is very relevant here. Challenging an arrogant person only causes them to dig their heals in further.
  7. Lower your voice: I use this exact same technique when people are yelling at me or very angry. When you lower your voice, the other person has to engage in order to listen to you. This is a key component for disarming the arrogant person in your life.

Jenn Bovee, LCSW is a spiritual psychotherapist and life coach. Jenn offers in person and distance sessions to people. You can learn more about her here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com