Dear Latimer: More Answers to Your Questions

Hello friends! We are continuing our latest blog tradition of fielding your questions about effective communication. You can send us the questions any way you want… via phone, email or the “Dear Latimer” box on the right side of most pages on our site. When we get a question we will always answer directly back to you. And when appropriate, we will publish your questions and our answers on our blog (always with your permission, and anonymously if requested). Our goal here is to give you some quick support and share some of our answers with the entire Latimer Community.

So, fire away with those questions, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great day! ~Dean and the Latimer team

Dear Latimer,

I have a big interview coming up for a major promotion, and I want to make sure I advocate for myself and promote my skills and strengths clearly. But I also don’t want to come across as too confident or arrogant. Where is the line between confident and arrogant?

  • Anonymous

Thanks for this question… this one comes up a lot.

Let’s start macro…being confident and arrogant are NOT the same thing. I think of confidence as a sense of self-assurance. I think of arrogance as a form of insecurity, or a deeply embedded LACK of confidence, that manifests as a need to tell everyone how great you are. In fact, most of the confident people I know do exactly the opposite of what arrogant people do…. most of them are the last people to take credit for anything. Arrogant people tend to be the first.

So, first and foremost, know that there is a lot of room to be confident without getting close to being arrogant.

More specifically, the most confident people I know do a few things when they speak:

  1. They share credit broadly. Confident people are not afraid of the pronoun “we.” In fact, “we” is far more prominent in their speech pattern than “I,” which tends to be dominant in less confident people. Confident people are happy to share success with the group.
  2. They are humble about success. Confident people are not afraid to admit they caught a break, or got some invaluable support from people along the way. Confident people don’t act like their success was pre-ordained.
  3. They are not afraid to admit that future success is not a guarantee. Confident people are comfortable admitting that just because there was a success in the past does not guarantee another success in the future.
  4. They are not afraid to talk about past failures. Confident people don’t run from their less successful moments. Furthermore, confident people are happy to discuss what they did wrong in the past, and what they learned from it.
  5. But, they are also not afraid to discuss what skills they bring to the table. This is especially true in the interview process. Confident people are prepared to discuss their own strengths, but usually within the confines of how their skills fit in with what the organization is trying to achieve. Rather than discuss their “greatness” as if it exists in a vacuum, confident people discuss the “fit” rather than abject greatness. Confident people realize they won’t be great in every situation.

When you go into an interview, don’t be so worried about perceived arrogance. Confidence is OK. In fact, confidence is required.

Confidence and arrogance are not the same thing. Not even close.

I hope this helps. Good luck in that next interview.

Have a great day!

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.