May 20, 2015 Articles

Be Confident, Not Arrogant: How Not to Cross That Thin Dividing Line

Understanding how to believe in yourself without appearing condescending and self-important is critical to your development as a young lawyer

by Angela A. Turiano

Whether an associate at a private firm, junior in-house counsel, or a fledgling prosecutor, it is difficult to navigate the field between confidence and arrogance. And indeed, the border between the two is quite thin. While applicable generally, navigating this line is especially tricky for lawyers, particularly litigators, who are supposed to be assertive and zealously represent the interests of their client. That being said, understanding the difference between confidence and arrogance is critical to your development as a young lawyer.

In its simplest form, confidence is the belief in yourself and your abilities overall, while arrogance is an exaggerated form of this concept—both in terms of an individual's importance and abilities. More specifically, it can be said that:

  • Arrogant people act superior and are often condescending in nature, while confident people are well liked and make others feel comfortable.

  • Arrogant people are often insecure and need constant validation, while confident people are cognizant of their areas of strength and are willing to admit their deficiencies.

  • Arrogant people feed on making others feel less important or intelligent, while confident people look internally to succeed both at the task at hand and in their career generally.

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