How to Deal With Arrogant People

I was mid-way through writing a post about this when I realized I had already written one in 2010.

Regardless, here is my take on the issue from 2013, since I wrote it already. 🙂

It will always happen that you meet nay-sayers, disbelievers, or just straight up rotten, arrogant people.

No matter how far up or down you are on the food chain, there is always someone who thinks they are better than you. It never ceases. Trust me.

And no matter what stage you’re at, it’s especially true when you’re starting a new project.

When you start something, no one cares.

They don’t understand your dream, they don’t care about it, and further, they are often too busy, too in their head and defending their position, to care. Evidence be damned.

So get used to it. It happens.

What I want to give you today is an attitude to take when you meet these people, one that helps you stay calm, respectful, and composed.

The attitude to take is – “We will meet again, and when we do, things will be different.”

Use it like a mantra. Here’s what this does.

One, it makes you feel like you’ll get your comeuppance. No matter how badly someone treats you, you’ll be in a position of higher power later. This is immediately calming / reassuring.

Two, it makes you think twice before being an asshole back. Because you’ll meet again, you’ll want to be graceful instead of defensive. (Usually people act worse when they know it’s a one-off.)

In effect, you are using your future position to secure your present state of mind.

Try it next time you’re confronted by rudeness. It works.





15 responses to “How to Deal With Arrogant People”

  1. Mitch Jackson Avatar

    Julien- Try dealing with lawyers all day long 🙂 Great advice and might I add that we all need to learn how to respond rationally rather than reacting emotionally. Reacting (“hey, you’re an asshole”) usually means, whether you know it or not, that you’re controlled by outside circumstances. Responding rationally (“I’m sorry to hear you say that. Did I do something wrong or offend you in any way?”) usually is a good first step to reminding the other person she was being rude or, a good first step, like you suggest, to the long-term relationship dance. My advice is that rather than responding, find the closest “Breather” and chill 🙂

  2. Vincent Nguyen Avatar

    Good mantra and I can see it working to avoid confrontation in the present, but what about people who are consistently arrogant? The ones who you will run into multiple times a week/month.

    I can keep myself calm and composed when dealing with someone like that if I know I won’t see them again. It’s the ones who I have to deal with on a frequent basis that makes me want to retaliate.

  3. Aaron Poehler Avatar

    Getting one’s comeuppance is not usually seen as a positive.

    1. Julien Avatar

      Hey I never said I was perfect!

  4. Joseph Ratliff Avatar

    What Mitch Jackson said. Well put.

    And, great post Julien, we can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we react to it.

  5. Katherine Bull Avatar
    Katherine Bull

    My mantra throughout life has been “What goes around, comes around.”

    I have seen this come true too many times to count. Even a couple times to me because, like Julien, I’m not perfect. 🙂

  6. charlesgreen Avatar

    Excellent advice.

    Similar concepts, broadly in the same vein, are behave yourself, be the adult in the room, don’t let it ruin your day, it reflects on the speaker more than on you, be the bigger person, use some generosity.

    Anyway, well seen and well said.

  7. Eric Feigl Avatar

    There will always be “haters”. Sit back and really think about how negative, arrogant people’s comments really change the world around them…nothing ever happens. There comments won’t change your world either. If someone bashes a project or idea you have, so what. It’s still your idea and you can make it change your world and help others. What negative people say does not change anything.

  8. Grace Conyers Avatar

    Thanks. I needed this. I just spent a week and a half with my team doing research for an article that not only disproved prior research done at Stanford, but also how it was shoddy research to begin with. My editor didn’t like the article stating that it would “hurt their feelings”. It’s science, and this is how science is. Real research will refute bad research. Both my team and I are crushed because we worked hard to do real science without bias.

    This is just the note we needed for today. Thank you.

  9. Tyler Avatar

    Great post, Julien. It’s helpful because it provides a long term view to a short term problem.

    One mantra that helps me is “Everyone is just trying to get by.”

    People have experiences, tragedies, and deep flaws informing their behavior. They, like me, are often just trying to get through the day.

  10. Kristine Bruneau Avatar

    I love this. It made me smile in for many reasons. 1) Getting a sense in mid sentence that there’s something vaguely familiar about what you’re writing. Then realizing that you’ve already written it! (the prolific writer’s syndrome or the flaky creative) 2) Why am I amazed there are people out there who are so unhappy with themselves they want to drag you with them? 3) No one cares, but the one it matters to most. You! 4) Things will be different next time we meet. We all change, evolve and grow – what a great reminder! 5) Be gracious, not snarky. Like the time one ad agency president told me I was “so naive” to trust that a potential new client would do what she said she would and return my call in a few days with next steps. She did call me back with news that our agency won the business. Instead I left for another ad agency. And now I’m on a different path with, I hope, integrity, diplomacy, respect for other people, and gratitude. Thank you for rescuing me every so often with In Over Your Head.

  11. Bob the Rooster Avatar
    Bob the Rooster

    Things will probably be different, but the problem is that I don’t know whether things will be better.

  12. Naomi Avatar

    Thankyou for this tip. I often try coming from a place of compassion and forgiveness which also works but I LOVE this concept because of that power shift! Not that I want to bring arrogance into my life BUT I am keen to try this out!

  13. Markus Avatar

    I agree! Rejection usually has nothing to do with you. Maybe the people you’re talking to are having a bad day or don’t have time to open the door for you. Maybe they are just mean people. It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re constantly exposing yourself to the possibility of rejection, as long as you’re listening to feedback and striving to improve, you’ll go a long way.

  14. Najeeb Avatar

    It help me in a way. Thanks

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