15 signs you have a strong character that some people mistake for arrogance

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I’m all too aware that I have a strong character. At times, I’ve wished this wasn’t the case.

Because it can mean people tend to either love me or hate me.

A strong personality, unlike an agreeable one, struggles to sit in the grey area.

Our traits and characteristics may be palatable to some, but leave a sour taste for others.

This strength of character can often be mistaken for arrogance.

And here’s why…

1) You have strong opinions and you’re not afraid to share them

Being opinionated always runs the risk of being read as arrogance.

That’s because people misunderstand.

You’re not suggesting that your opinions are better than anyone else. But you do believe they are just as valid.

So you aren’t shy about sharing them.

You think it’s perfectly reasonable to offer up your thoughts on a matter. After all, what people choose to do with that information is up to them.

2) You are animated and enthusiastic in conversations

Being animated in itself is great, but it can come across as overbearing at times.

Perhaps it can mean you get carried away or inadvertently take over. Other people who have different communication styles may feel their voice gets lost.

I have a bit of an ugly habit that I’m not proud of (and am certainly trying to be more mindful of).

I can get so engaged in a conversation that I talk far too much, or worse, jump in before someone else has finished.

For sure, that’s not good.

But rather than come from arrogance, I know it comes from genuine excitement and enthusiasm for what we’re discussing.

3) You know your strengths and you aren’t bashful about them

Bragging is never particularly attractive.

It’s pretty cringeworthy when someone flaunts all that they have or openly boasts about their accomplishments.

But the reality is that most of us are far more likely to do the very opposite.

We’re not forthcoming enough about our abilities.

We’re all so afraid of looking arrogant that we deflect or play down our talents.

It’s for this reason that we can misread it as arrogance when someone doesn’t do this.

When someone comes along who knows what they have to offer and isn’t afraid to highlight it — it quickly gets labeled as cocky.

But people with strong personalities don’t see why they should downplay who they are.

They aren’t arrogantly over-inflating themselves.  But neither will they hide skills in an attempt to look “humble”.

4) You are happy to speak up and volunteer ideas or ask questions

My boyfriend has been working from home recently, so I’ve heard plenty of his work Zoom calls.

There’s this one guy, let’s call him “Paul”, who does the majority of the talking when bosses call upon employees for answers or explanations.

Apparently, it’s gained him a bit of an arrogant reputation.

But I felt pretty sorry for Paul.

As I pointed out to my naturally quiet and reserved boyfriend, everyone else just keeps schtum.

And after a bit of pause, Paul would then speak up.

He wasn’t hogging the limelight, nobody else was even trying to step into it. So he would ask and answer questions or volunteer for exercises.

But it seemed to be less an arrogance on his part, and more a willingness to participate that others did not show.

I think this example highlights the unfair misconceptions about strong characters who are simply more willing to get involved.

5) You’re a natural leader

Of course, leadership is a skill that is developed. But the reality is that some people also have certain traits which give them a head start.

These so-called natural leaders instinctively take a guiding role. Perhaps a bit like Paul in the above example.

Natural leaders often share many qualities strong characters exhibit:

So they can find themselves taking charge of situations. Which to some can seem like arrogance or “bossiness”.

6) You hate BS excuses and you call them out

We’re all grown-ups right, so you don’t believe anyone should get to hide behind excuses.

Admittedly, as a strong personality, you simply find very little need for them. And that lowers your tolerance for them in others too.

You don’t play the victim, and so you have little patience for people who try to.

If someone presents themselves with a whole host of excuses, you aren’t afraid to call them out.

And for obvious reasons, some people aren’t going to like that.

7) You know what you like and what you don’t like

…And people rarely manage to change your mind.

You have clear likes and dislikes.

It’s not that you think that other people should feel the same. But you know in no uncertain terms how you feel about most things.

Sure, you are open to changing your mind.

But then again, someone would need to come up with a pretty clear and well-thought-out argument to convince you otherwise.

Because you already know yourself and your tastes, this can be misread as superior or stubborn.

8) You aren’t afraid to go against the grain

When you have clear preferences, you find it easier to say no to the things that don’t work for you.

You don’t see it as a big deal to go your own way. You don’t feel a need to follow the crowd.

This independent approach is supported by strong boundaries too.

When something doesn’t feel good, you won’t be cajoled into doing it.

Your inner strength means you’re prepared to break with the consensus.

Of course, it helps that you don’t fall into the trap of people-pleasing

9) You’re not concerned with people pleasing

You’re not trying to be awkward.

But so many people engage in people-pleasing because they fear rejection if they don’t. So when someone comes along who doesn’t, it can seem almost anti-social.

‘What? They said “no” without even offering an explanation?!’

It’s not something that happens every day.

Because you don’t seek external validation, your boundaries and needs are easier to enforce.

But people can mistake this perfectly reasonable self-care as arrogance.

10) You’re decisive and don’t agonize over choices

It’s not some sort of arrogant conviction that leads you to believe you always make the right choices. It’s more that you prefer to take defined action.

You see little point in umming and ahhing. Instead, you trust yourself enough to go with your gut.

Importantly, you know that whatever the fallout, you will deal with it.

You can rely on yourself so you don’t feel the need to second guess every decision you make.

You make a choice, and then get on with it.

11) You don’t beat around the bush and are forthcoming in speaking your truth

We all have different communication styles.

Some people are incredibly delicate, others are more direct.

And, of course, some people are about as subtle as a sledgehammer and lacking in tact. 

But when you are pretty straightforward with people about your needs and wants, as well as your ideas and thoughts — it can be seen as pushy or demanding.

But being assertive doe not mean you’re arrogant.

12) You don’t let your head rule your heart

You’re a pretty logical person, and that can unsettle people at times.

You may be accused of acting coldly or matter-of-factly. But that’s only because in your mind, reason prevails.

Facts are facts after all, so what’s the harm in stating that?

The problem is that it can be very challenging for most people to leave their emotions at the door.

They cannot so easily separate the two. So when they meet someone who does, it can come across as haughtiness.

13) You are very driven and focused on your goals

Personally, I have zero ambition. But many strong characters do. And very ambitious people are often mistaken for arrogant.

But the truth is that they have simply developed tougher skin because that resilience and steely determination are vital for them to get where they’re going.

If they are to achieve their goals, they need a strong drive.

But that drive can be seen by others from the outside as blinkered or even cutthroat.

14) You don’t endlessly beat yourself up over mistakes

It’s been suggested that on average people say “I’m sorry” 8-10 times per day. That averages out to a whopping 3,000 apologies per year.

I’m British, so my “sorry” count is even higher. Yep, the cultural stereotype is true.

We might think we’re being polite but actually, we’re often just undermining ourselves.

Research has found over apologizing can lower self-esteem, and make people lose respect for us.

But in our overly apologetic society, if you don’t unnecessarily beat yourself up over mistakes, you may be misread as arrogant.

It’s not that you haven’t seen the error of your ways. But you refuse to endlessly chastise yourself over it.

Neither will you throw around an empty meaning “sorry” when it’s not required.

Instead, you recognize mistakes and make amends if it’s appropriate, but then quickly move on.

15) You feel comfortable in your own skin

Confidence in your body language and appearance can just as easily be mistaken for arrogance.

Perhaps you take pride in how you look and like to wear things that make you feel good.

Or maybe you simply don’t go in for all that popularized body shaming and negative self-chat.

We’re forever being told to love ourselves.

But the funny thing is, as soon as you do — some people don’t like it.

Then, all of a sudden, being happy in your own skin is seen as being excessively “into yourself” or prideful.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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