This advice is for people who are already pretty arrogant, and also for people who would like to be more arrogant, but worry that it will make them obnoxious and unlikeable.
I have quite a few friends who I think would be described as arrogant, and I was trying to think about what these people have in common, other than arrogance – what separates them from the arrogant people who are not my friends, because they’re unpleasant to be around. And it’s this:
They are all instantly, effusively supportive of other people’s endeavours. If you need a volunteer from the audience, and the audience has gone dead quiet, they’ll step up. If it’s your first gig and no one’s dancing, they’ll get up and dance in front of the stage, alone, until other people start to join in. If you say you’re thinking about taking a public-speaking class, they’ll tell you that’s awesome and you should definitely give it a go.
Basically, they have tickets on themselves, but they have tickets on everyone else, too. There’s almost no limit to how highly you can think of yourself, if you think of other people just as highly.
It’s pretty easy to imagine this: you’re at a dinner party with two people who are pretty good cooks, but who think they’re excellent cooks. Potentially annoying situation. One of these people whispers to you “ehhh this food is okay I guess. I wouldn’t have used so much ginger.” The other is all “it is so nice to be here with you and eating this food. Seconds, please?”
You can see which one is pleasant to be around, right? It doesn’t mean you can’t ever be critical of anything, but you can generally not dampen your friends' attempts to try new things. You will notice the second person didn't actually compliment the food. You can always find something to be pleased with, and if you can't, why are you there?
(Note: You don’t have to be as one-note excitable as my hypothetical arrogant person obviously, you can be supportive in a tone that’s more low-key and natural for you, send an email of private encouragement, flyer for their comedy show, endorse them on LinkedIn, support their Patreon, go to their launch party, commission an artwork, ask for their advice, gossip about how great they are to your mutual friends.)
I mean this is just an excellent trait to have in general, and I’d like to get better at it. But according to my chemical analysis, it’s also specifically the one that neutralises the toxic parts of arrogance.
This piece was originally published in The Whippet #18 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!
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