Philip Guo (Phil Guo, Philip J. Guo, Philip Jia Guo, pgbovine)

Why Acting Arrogant Is Pointless

I've worked in both academia and the high-tech industry and witnessed plenty of arrogant behavior in both settings. For a long time I've thought that acting arrogant was pointless, but couldn't put my finger on why until now. Here's my folk theory:

In any social situation, you're either:

  • the most competent or highest-status person in the room,
  • or you're not.

In either case, acting arrogant is pointless because:

  • If you're the most competent or highest-status person in the room, then there's no point in acting arrogant. Everyone already acknowledges your status, so you have nothing left to prove. Acting arrogant only makes you appear insecure.

  • If you're not the most competent or highest-status person in the room, then if you act arrogant, those with higher competence or status will immediately notice and think that you're a schmuck.

Either way, you lose.

I have yet to find a situation where arrogance is a competitive advantage. But then again, I don't have any direct experience in the business world. Given that wealthy people can be arrogant, it might have some advantages at the upper echelons of society.


P.S. Got some good reader feedback! I see how in image-driven worlds such as the entertainment industry, high-stakes politics, and bigwig-style business deals (thick necks, shiny suits, and flipping tables), arrogance can be an effective weapon to show dominance and to ultimately get what you want. But I still stand by my original hunch that arrogance is pointless for the majority of mere mortals with regular jobs.

Created: 2014-12-07
Last modified: 2014-12-07