Confident, Arrogant or Ignorant? How To Self-Check How You Come Across At Work

They say not to worry what other people think – but in business, it could mean the difference between getting ahead and stagnating. How do you come across to your colleagues?

Just like the old chestnut ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, sometimes it’s difficult – if not impossible – to gauge how others perceive you at work. But even though it may be difficult, it’s extremely important – your procurement personal brand is critical to your career success, and knowing how to effectively manage stakeholders confidently, without coming across as arrogant or ignorant, is one of the keys to moving projects forward within your organisation. 

With that said, how do you do a ‘self check’ on how you’re coming across? 

Here’s what the experts say to look out for  to understand whether you’re coming across as confident, arrogant or just plain ignorant. 

What confidence looks like 

Many of us start our working career thinking that intelligence and hard work will get us where we want to be. And although these qualities are extremely important, so too is the ability to confidently create positive relationships with stakeholders in our organisation. These stakeholders can include anyone from suppliers and our peers to C-suite executives. 

But what, exactly, does confidence look like? 

Confidence, according to experts, may not always be what you think. Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder of internet marketing sensation HubSpot, has met with hundreds of millionaires and hugely successful entrepreneurs in his time, and he thinks that confidence is often the opposite of what you might think: 

“Confidence is not bravado, or swagger, or an overt pretense of bravery. Confidence is not some bold or brash air of self-belief directed at others. 

Confidence is quiet. Confidence is a natural expression of ability, expertise and self-regard.” 

So, there you have it. Confidence is not about talking the most, being the loudest person in the room, or having the most intimidating body language. It’s a lot more subtle than that. 

Further, experts say that if you’re truly confident, you’ll express your confidence in the following ways: 

  • You won’t be afraid to be wrong 
  • You’ll listen more than you speak 
  • You won’t actively seek attention, and you won’t always have to be in the spotlight 
  • You don’t wait for opportunities to be handed to you. 

What arrogance looks like 

If there’s one thing that is true about procurement professionals, it’s that very few are arrogant by choice. Yet still, sometimes your confidence can cross the line … and when it does, it’s never good. 

There are subtle but important differences between arrogance and confidence, says psychotherapist Toni Coleman. She says: 

“Confidence is a manifestation of belief in one’s abilities. 

In contrast, arrogance is an aggressive posting in which someone tries to project self-assurance and confidence. However, arrogant people often suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of low self-worth.” 

Arrogance can be expressed in many ways, but if you are arrogant, you’re probably guilty of doing the following: 

  • You ignore other people’s opinions 
  • You talk over others 
  • You don’t give your procurement colleagues credit for their ideas
  • You can’t accept feedback from anyone. 

What ignorance looks like 

Procurement, perhaps more than any other profession, is one where you definitely need to be in the know. When it comes to market conditions, supplier intel, contract details, or just about anything else, a high level of attention to detail and expert knowledge is almost always required. 

For this reason, being perceived as ignorant is perhaps one of the worst things you can be. 

An ignorant person is someone that no one likes to be around, says career advisor Melanie Nest. Specifically, an ignorant person is: 

“Someone who isn’t stupid, but rather, someone who may be unaware or unconcerned by the impact of their negative behaviour on those around them.” 

Being unconcerned about negative behaviour is the exact opposite of what good supplier and stakeholder management looks like. Look out for the following as signs that you might be coming across as ignorant: 

  • You revel in saying ‘this is the way it’s always been, so it’s the way things should be’ 
  • You defend processes for no good reason, even if they’re doing more harm than good
  • You fear or despise change of any kind 
  • Your default answer to everything is no. 

With everything that procurement and supply chain is going through at the moment, it’s easy to forget about your personal brand and how you come across to your colleagues. But it’s critically important to not let you guard down, especially if you’re an aspiring female leader in our industry. 

Are you a female who wants to meet or exceed your potential in procurement? Join our BRAVO program and meet other inspirational female leaders just like you and to learn how to lead with confidence.