4 Major Differences Between Being Self-Confident And Being Conceited

by Valerie Downey

I am as attracted to someone who is self-confident, as I am repelled by conceited people. People often mix up these two personality types, when, in reality, they are polar opposites.

But, why do people confuse the two? At the core of conceited people is a paradox: Though they appear self-confident on the outside, they are deeply skeptical about who they are and what defines them. Because they are insecure, they overcompensate.

The result? Exaggerated egos. This is what separates them from having healthy levels of self-confidence.

Confidence is simple: It is being comfortable in your own skin.

The following four situations bring to light the fine line between being self-confident and being conceited, and how to differentiate between the two.

When accepting a compliment


When I was younger, I thought that by accepting compliments, I was declaring I agreed with the complimenter.

I would push away compliments and reply with a feeble, “No, that’s not true,” or an equally lame response.

I have since learned that by accepting a compliment, you are not claiming to agree with the person, but instead, acknowledging his or her thoughts and appreciating the kindness.

Someone who is self-confident knows how to accept a compliment humbly, understanding that the person supplying the compliment wants nothing more than for you to accept it. Rejecting it is to reject his or her perception.

Why would you do that?


I compliment people readily because I think anything lovely and good should be shared. I want people to know I appreciate them (or their dresses). Doing so can brighten someone’s day!

Sadly, I know a few people who, within a millisecond, make me regret bothering to compliment them. I think this is because I’d rather compliment people who are unaware of their attributes instead of those who are all-too-aware of them.

I’ve received responses like “I know” when giving a compliment. It’s fine if you do know how great you are, but chances are, I probably don’t want to hear about it.

You may claim you’re kidding when you say it, but there’s a little bit of truth behind every "just kidding," especially when you fail to take the compliment humbly.

Conceited people are often insecure and overcompensate by taking compliments as a given, when in reality, they crave the praise to feed their (low) self-esteem levels. Someone who is self-confident appreciates praise but is not desperate for it.

When admitting you’re wrong or can’t do something


Being able to gracefully admit you’re wrong shows you are confident in who you are. A common misconception is that by admitting you’re wrong, you allow the other person to “win” when, in reality, doing so only makes you stronger.

Being open to change shows you are ready to grow as a person. Nothing about that says "weak."


Admitting you’re wrong is hard, I get it. I’m opinionated and have a strong sense of self, and in my younger years, I struggled to admit to my mistakes (I still do, but I’m working on it).

If your outlook on life is “my way or the highway,” it implies you believe everything you do is correct and/or better than everyone else.

This arrogance scars others and yourself. Pushing the truth away, not admitting you’re wrong and failing to apologize causes hard feelings and eliminates growth, which strains relationships.

Admitting our faults requires vulnerability. Being vulnerable and opening yourself up requires strength and self-confidence.

When carrying yourself


You walk with your head held high (and your shoulders back, as my mother likes to remind me to do). You are grounded and secure in who you are and you see yourself as equal to others. You build others up and motivate those around you.

You are in-tune with the room’s atmosphere and know how to handle most situations with grace, without bringing yourself down.

You are capable of seeing life through another pair of eyes, from another perspective, making you understanding and compassionate.

Being able to do this is a sign of true confidence because you see others’ concerns and problems and sympathize, instead of constantly focusing on yourself. This gives you perspective when others try to knock you down.


You walk with your nose stuck up. You find it difficult to pay attention and be considerate of other peoples’ feelings or situations in life. You view yourself as higher than others, as opposed to equal.

At first, people mistake this for confidence. They soon realize it is merely a fabricated façade, painted with preconceived prejudices and coated with pride. It is put in place merely to protect your weak personality.

When addressing your success


Self-confident people admit to working hard to get where they are, but you do not boast about the opportunities that have come your way, nor do you fail to acknowledge the many people and coincidences that have pushed you forward.

You know you wouldn't be where you are today without the help of others. This realization shapes a humble and grateful mindset. You have no desire to boast your successes and would rather spend your time enjoying them with those who surround you.

In the past few years, my brother has become somewhat of a role model to me in this regard. He has become successful in his field and isn’t even finished with school yet. People can’t help but smile in the presence of his charm and charisma.

He doesn’t let his success interfere with his simple outlook on life and the things he values most.

Though he always has a thousand things on his plate — playing hard, studying harder and working the hardest — he never forgets his family (though thousands of miles away) and those who have helped him prosper.

To me, he is a stellar example of someone who keeps his head screwed on straight amidst many achievements, which others let get to their heads.


In contrast, conceited behaviors make you think you are the sole source of your success. Everything you’ve done up to this moment is because of your constant motivation and work ethic, and you’ve built and created your own future.

However hard you have worked, however difficult it’s been, however many trials you’ve been through and gotten out of, I’d like to congratulate you, but I’d also like to update you: It’s not all thanks to you.

You are the sum total of all moments, people and events that have come before you. Because of these things, you stand where you do now.

Side note: I’ve noticed that those who are conceited are often those who haven’t worked very hard to get where they are, like some children of celebrities, for example.

Many of these people have no understanding of what it is like to work from the bottom, which is why they easily take their successes for granted.

They let their success define them in place of their journey to said success, considering that in these cases, there was no journey.

Knowing the difference between self-confidence and conceit is vital because ultimately, it isn’t your success that defines who you are, rather, how you handle your successes (and failures).

If you allow your character to determine your outlook, you will be content in all stages of your life because you'll know trials and triumphs will shape who you become.

Those who are confident see the importance of shaping stable and solicitous characters because that is what carries you through the best and worst days. Conceitedness, on the other hand, strangles true growth and success.

Self-confidence shines; conceit blinds.