10 Signs You Have A Strong Character That’s Often Mistaken For Arrogance

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There’s a fine line between arrogance and a strong sense of self.

Here are the top 10 character traits that toe that line and often get misinterpreted.

1. You stand up for yourself.

If you’re not the kind of person who shies away from conflict, you may have noticed that some people see you as arrogant or cocky.

Many people aren’t used to dealing with others standing up for themselves, and it can skew their perceptions of personalities in a negative way.

It’s far more common to encounter people who back down from any drama or conflict, so it can be a shock to the system when someone doesn’t do that!

When we meet someone who stands their ground, we don’t quite know what to do with it—and we often mistake it for arrogance.

In truth, it takes a lot of strength and courage to stand up for yourself. It may come across as rude sometimes, but it’s one of the most polite things you can do!

Being honest about how you feel and what you need is a great communication tool. Of course, you must be mindful of your delivery, but being upfront shows other people what your boundaries and expectations are.

Once people know where you’re at, they can decide to either conform or ignore.

By allowing them to make that decision, you’re removing conflict or misunderstanding, making it easier to move forwards.

Rather than setting things up for resentment (“How was I meant to know how you feel?”), this approach enables mutual respect and gives everyone room to process and make informed decisions.

So, ‘arrogance’ in this instance is just honest, healthy communication! Who knew?

2. You aren’t afraid to voice your opinion.

Having an opinion and being able to voice it are two totally different things.

Pretty much all of us have an opinion, even if it’s always changing or one we’ve borrowed from someone else!

But being able to share an opinion can be challenging. It’s something that is often seen as cocky (you assume you’re right) or challenging (you’re daring someone to disagree with you) or rude (you should be more open to others’ thoughts).

That’s why voicing an opinion is often misinterpreted as arrogant.

A lot of people are used to just going with the flow and having an easy life, which is why it can feel jarring when someone has a different way of thinking or living!

Try to remember that a lot of people are used to hiding their real thoughts—they disagree with their boss but can’t risk speaking against them, or they worry that they’ll be judged negatively for expressing something controversial.

As such, many people become resentful of those who do voice their opinion. They’re too scared to do it themselves, so they turn on their openly-opinionated friends and brand them as arrogant or cocky…in this case, you.

In reality, you’re doing nothing wrong. Unless you’re trying to force others to agree with you or are discussing offensive or triggering things, you’re just a person who feels strongly and isn’t afraid to make that known.

It can be difficult for some people to accept this in you, and it’s normal for them to feel a bit annoyed by those who can be true to their feelings. After all, you get to just say and do what you want while they are always worried about offending or upsetting others. But that isn’t your fault!

3. You don’t mind taking up space.

A lot of people are raised to go along with things and make life easy. They keep quiet, they don’t make a scene, and they just ‘suck it up.’

You, however, are different.

You do what you want (but you still respect others!), whether that means laughing loudly in a restaurant and ignoring anyone staring at you or actively joining in new conversations and getting stuck in.

While some people might struggle with this kind of behavior, you have no issue with it—you have the right to speak and act and take up space, just like everyone else!

Rather than asking ‘Why?’, you ask ‘Why not?’…

4. You are willing to contradict the status quo.

You’re not afraid to go against the grain.

It’s not that you think you’re better than everyone else, it’s just that you’re open to doing things differently.

While some people might perceive this as arrogance or indifference, you simply see that there is a whole spectrum of opinions, behaviors, and attitudes.

If you’re comfortable forging your own path and seeing what works best for you, you’re a really strong person—and that’s a personality trait worth celebrating!

Many find it quite scary to deviate from the norm or stand out in a crowd, but you don’t—you know and trust yourself enough to do what feels best for you.

To some, that might come across as arrogant or self-important, but, in reality, it means that you don’t conform to herd mentality.

In other words, you’re not afraid to think for yourself!

5. You know what you want.

Most people aren’t clear on what they want, so when someone else possesses that clarity, it can be taken as a bit of a personal attack.

Those who are unclear about their ambitions or desires will often see someone else’s strengths in that area as a weakness of their own; they feel like a failure in comparison to you as they have no idea what they want.

Rather than looking to the strong characters around them for guidance or to help lead the way, they lash out—labeling those strong people as arrogant or rude by default.

A lot of this simply comes down to jealousy. People who are indecisive or aren’t overly driven might be insecure about that. They might worry that they’re being judged for not having huge amounts of ambition.

That’s why they turn on decisive, ambitious people like you…

6. You are confident and happy.

Not everyone is confident. A lot of people struggle with confidence and self-esteem.

That’s why confidence can be mistaken for cockiness. When someone is self-assured and puts themselves out there, not everyone responds well.

Equally, a lot of unhappy people assume that those who are happy are trying to rub their noses in it. They’re constantly making comparisons and are angry that you’re content with your life and they’re not.

Negative reactions to someone’s confidence and satisfaction normally stem from jealousy. Others are envious of the fact you come across well and are happy with who you are and what you stand for.

Maybe they secretly wish they could say or do the things you do, which is why they assume you must be cocky or why they might tell themselves that it’s you who’s in the wrong and not them.

Being confident takes a lot of strength, and it builds over time. Other people might take confidence the wrong way because being confident is rarer than you think.

To be satisfied with your life isn’t that common, so a lot of people assume anyone who’s content and confident must be stuck up or arrogant!

7. You are popular.

It’s important to remember that popularity manifests in a lot of different ways.

Some people are popular online and have loads of Instagram followers, others are popular with a small group of people who adore them, and others are popular with loads of people who are surface friends rather than deep connections.

Being popular isn’t just about being a nice person or having lots of people around you—it’s determined by several factors…

Someone who lives in the middle of nowhere might not be ‘popular’ because they don’t hang out with huge groups all the time, but that’s because they don’t have access to that kind of lifestyle, or their finances or children limit their activities.

They’re not unpopular, as such. If they lived in a thriving city or were child-free or single, they would likely have lots of people wanting to spend time with them—it’s just that their lifestyle doesn’t fit in with what’s typically considered as ‘popular.’

As such, when someone is popular in the typical sense of the word, it can be seen negatively. This could stem from jealousy or deep-rooted insecurities. Either way, you have something that a lot of people want, and so they react badly.

Being able to surround yourself with friends is amazing, and it shows how much value there is to your company. Even though some people might think you’re a show-off for having lots of friends, it’s just because you’re great to be around!

8. You are determined.

Being determined and having willpower is something amazing, and it’s not as common as you might think.

You know what you want and how to get it, and you’re not going to be dissuaded by anyone. That’s a trait of a strong person, but it can sometimes be misinterpreted as arrogance or bullheadedness.

Try to be mindful of how this trait comes across—make sure that, while you’re pursuing whatever it is you want, you’re not trampling on other people in the process!

Most people love someone with ambition, but they don’t like being made to feel inadequate or inconvenient because they ‘get in the way’ of others’ plans. Be considerate in your climb to the top!

Determination can sometimes come across as selfish or superior, so be conscious of how your actions or words are being interpreted by those around you. Stay on the strong, positive side of this trait and you and those around you will be much happier.

9. You are independent.

It takes a lot of courage to be independent. It’s not that you don’t trust those around you, it’s that you are proud of your ability to do things yourself.

Remember that, to some people, your independence may come across as you shunning them—you’re pushing them aside because they’re not as good as you/ you do things better than them/ you don’t trust them to get things right/ you don’t value their support.

These are all feelings that can be triggered by someone’s independence, which is why strong people can be misinterpreted as arrogant or too self-assured.

While you shouldn’t have to compromise your independence just to make others happy, it’s something worth bearing in mind!

10. You celebrate your successes.

There’s a very fine line between celebrating your achievements and bragging.

When people hype themselves up too much or endlessly talk about all the amazing things they’ve done, it can be exhausting to listen to.

It’s great to be confident and proud of what you’ve achieved, but it can be taken too far.

Try to find a balance—you can talk about your new job and how excited you are, but don’t brag about how much money you’re about to be making!

Read the room—those who know you well and love you will understand that you’re not bragging, you’re just excited.

Maybe this big pay rise has been a long time coming, and you’re proud of how many struggles you’ve overcome. In that case, share it with those you’re close to and trust, otherwise you risk being seen as braggy and arrogant by people who don’t know you well.


There’s no black-or-white way to determine if someone’s behavior is arrogant and cocky or just part of their strong character.

All actions and personalities are on a spectrum, so, if you’re someone who’s often seen as arrogant, it might be worth some self-reflection to ensure you’re coming across in a way you’re comfortable with. 

About The Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.