Michael Toebe

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Arrogance Fractures Reputation Quality and Reveals Weakness

Arrogance Fractures Reputation Quality and Reveals Weakness

It’s surprising to some people and organizations as well to learn that arrogance is destructive to reputation. What is it that we should know yet might not fully comprehend?

Carrying oneself with arrogance is believing, consciously or subconsciously, that its practice is somehow beneficial. This thinking and belief system, regardless of experiences, is of course problematic because it’s a false conclusion.

Those who willingly entrap themselves with this mindset don’t realize this behavior creates a multitude of problems, not only for others but themselves.

Arrogance doesn’t inspire “liking,” a trait of influence. It doesn’t convey credibility, build trust or lead to connection, influence and persuasion. It doesn’t create benefit of the doubt, loyalty or invite willing help.

Dislike does materialize and often, distrust, anger and resentment grow. Arrogance is off-putting and divisive behavior. It erodes quality of relationships — personal and business — and prevents or fractures reputation quality.

Harsh, yes, yet it is character rot and a shortcoming if not a weakness in immediate need of addressing. This can be done through learning about the root causes and triggers, to move towards adjusting thinking and developing replacement interpretation of perceptions. This can allow for skill building new, healthier responses to stress that has been triggering arrogance.

Not everything one’s mind interprets as a threat is in actually, a threat.

Psychology researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have identified three types of arrogance:

  • Individual — an inflated opinion of one’s own abilities, traits or accomplishments compared to the truth.
  • Comparative — an inflated ranking of one’s own abilities, traits or accomplishments compared to other people.
  • Antagonistic — the denigration of others based on an assumption of superiority.

Regardless of the type, it’s a psychological malady. Arrogance might provide some type of temporary benefit to those that employ it yet it comes with costs, mostly unseen.


“Arrogance is an unhealthy ego in need of repair.”
Thomas Faranda

Faranda is correct. We all can use adjustments in our thinking from time to time and ego is a piece of ourselves that can prove difficult to tame. Arrogance is just a warning sign or reminder that we are emotionally triggered and could check in with ourselves or seek trusted assistance to learn what’s going on in our psychology. From there, we can choose to an alternative plan to implement smarter replies and effective improvements.

“The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.”
Albert Einstein

Einstein knew. Arrogance doesn’t come without risks and costs. That reality is not often at the forefront of our mind. It should be. We can put others and ourselves at risk of consequences.

“Arrogance is blind to the stumbling block.”
Toba Beta

Beta’s statement is in alignment with what Einstein said. When we’re arrogant, we’re not practicing intellectual humility and we’re not going to “see” clearly, exercise our best judgement or make the wise, most sound decisions. We’re not just careless, we’re conducting ourselves recklessly.

“People often believe arrogance is excessive confidence, but it’s really a lack of confidence. Arrogant people are insecure, and often repel others.”
Christie Hartman

Hopefully what Hartman says will be an illuminating “a-ha” moment for some people. A lack of confidence manifests itself in different ways with different people; overcompensating is one of them.

“Arrogance is a self-defense tactic to disguise insecurities.”
Caroll Michels

Going back to what Hartman says, Michels is correct in saying insecurities and stress can drive poor, impulsive reactions from us.

“Arrogant people are non-learners. They invest their energies in maintaining a cozy feeling of complacency, and complacency is the biggest single enemy to the process of continuously learning from experience.”
Peter Honey

Some people are just not open to learning when it requires them turning down the intensity of their ego. That’s foolish and at times, dangerous, especially when changing our thinking, self control, decision-making, communication and other behavior is not only necessary but highly beneficial.

“Arrogance is an illusion of superiority one perpetrates upon their self. Some may ultimately find their way through the illusion, but only after many losses.”
Debra Crown

At times, yes, arrogance does reveal that people feel superior, as Crown says. Notice the wording she uses — “way through the illusion.” Superiority that leads us to believe we are irreproachable is an illusion. Crown is correct that this type of attitude and conduct can and does lead to “many losses.” Not all of those losses are big. There can be many small losses from many small cuts inflicted on other people.

“How great some people would be if they were not arrogant.”
The Talmud

Some people will be turned off because of the source of this quote and that too might be due to arrogance. It speaks truth and wisdom. We often become our best selves as individuals and organizations when we develop new skills.

It’s also true that we greatly improve when we learn how to replace old, worthless thinking and behaviors with smarter ones and stop doing what is problematic.

That’s when people could be great, yet currently choose not to be.

Arrogance is a loss of emotional control, poor behavior, not respected by others or trusted. The sad truth is that people don’t mind arrogant people failing and suffering.

Rationalizing arrogance might feel comforting yet it doesn’t change how we will be experienced, perceived, judged and reacted to or how people will respond to us long term. It just doesn’t invite respect, trust and cooperation.

Choosing to bury one’s head in the sand about arrogance doesn’t problem solve or reduce the small or large “costs” we are paying or will pay eventually, possibly even long term. Being arrogant is honestly, playing a fool and not knowing we’re doing it.

We can buck against what we should do to gain greater self awareness, social awareness, empathy and improve yet we don’t. We think we’re acting in strength against idiocy or mistreatment, lowering our responsibility for how we need to interact with other humans.

Arrogance can be overcome. We can install entirely new thinking software, figuratively speaking, or do an update on our current thinking and behavior.

When someone commits to that level of decision quality, works through a skilled process and exhibits perseverance, they do overcome the challenge. They gain greater strength and abundance of rewards they never knew they were doing without while also protecting their future well-being.

Michael Toebe is a specialist for communications, reputation and crisis at Reputation Quality. He has written analysis and advisory for publications like Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, Physicians Practice, the New York Law Journal, Corporate Compliance Insights, Training Industry,  Reputation Specialist Essays and Red Diamonds Essays.

This article first appeared in Reputation Specialist Essays on Dec. 29, 2020

First image in article courtesy of Siggy Nowak from Pixabay

Second image in article courtesy of Arek Socha from Pixabay

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