Dealing with difficult people – the arrogant person

Our dealing with difficult people courses are one of our popular courses as it effectively demonstrates how to neutralise problem situations in the workplace. It covers a wide range of scenarios that occur in the workplace such as; working with aggressive people, disagreeing with others, handling bullies at work, dealing with ignorant people at work and working with unreasonable people. This course will cover mediation and will show delegates how valuable managing and mediating conflict is when managing or handling difficult staff/employee(s). The dealing with difficult people at work course also provides useful information for working with a difficult boss/manager and guidance on how to deal with bullying in the workplace.

Dealing with arrogant people

Arrogance is a defence mechanism, usually guarding against vulnerability and insecurity, often learned in childhood. Arrogance is defined as : “an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions”. Often, the arrogant person will exert themselves by undermining others, and often they have an in-built radar to focus on the ‘weaker’ co-worker.

Here are some useful techniques to help when dealing with the arrogant person:

Assess the situation.  Why do you feel that a person is being arrogant? Have they been condescending to you or have they never spoken to you? If there has not been an incident that showed you this person feels superior to you, don’t assume he or she is arrogant too quickly. You might wrong him or her.

Know that arrogant people are really quite insecure. They seek to dominate and control because they are afraid of being dominated and controlled.

Enter an encounter with an arrogant person with the strong and confident realization that you are well and strong. There is nothing they can say or do that can undermine you. Your sense of confidence and self-worth will prohibit you from being vulnerable to an arrogant person’s total inability to relate to others and the sometimes noxious or cruel things that come out of their mouths.

Try to ignore the arrogance of the person you encounter. Instead, probe for something you can enjoy about your encounter. Perhaps they do have some knowledge to impart. Perhaps they can tell an interesting story. Perhaps it’s just enjoyable to find humour in their arrogance.

Use the encounter as an opportunity to improve your listening skills or tolerance. Try and ignore anything that they say or how they act, and they will probably stop bothering you eventually.

Be honest. If this isn’t working and the arrogant person is still getting on your nerves, tell them that you think they are being arrogant and really tell them how you feel. Don’t shout or swear or insult them more than is necessary, because then you will just look evil.


Generally, arrogant people won’t listen to what you have to say, so sometimes you just need to smile and nod, comfortable in being the more secure person.

When someone is just driving you crazy with their arrogance, you might ask them, very politely, “May I ask how you became such an expert on this subject? Did you study? Did you learn this from having a bad experience? Is there anything you know nothing about that I might be able to help you with?”

Situations to avoid

Ignoring an arrogant person may be effective in getting them to leave you alone but recognise that arrogant people have a way of taking up the air in a room. So even though they’re not talking to you, you may still find them annoying to be around.

Try not to get into any type of debate with them, because they’ll never hear your side of the story and if they do, they will continually tell you you’re wrong. Often times, arrogant people will try to make YOU feel insecure and at fault. He/she will do this in an attempt to demonstrate control over the situation. If this happens to you, do not get mad at all, that’s what they want from you. Instead consciously understand their belittling actions and see their intended conclusion from their perspective. Act wise and in control, but don’t escalate the situation by responding in an angry or hostile manner.

Delegates who attend our Dealing With Difficult People training courses will:

Other related courses include assertiveness skills, mediation skills, negotiation skills and communication skills for managers. Click here if you need more information regarding Dealing With Difficult People training courses or contact Total Success who will be delighted to talk to you via e-mail.

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