Assertiveness Training: Confidence vs. Cocky


Confidence vs. Cockiness

Oh boy! This one could get hot. I've been wanting to write about this topic for a while because there's a big difference in being confident and cocky, but a lot of folks get it twisted.

I hate hearing someone clearly state a talent, unique ability, strength or something they know they're just genuinely good at verbally only to be called 'cocky' for saying it.

Our culture has succeeded in making so many humans, especially introverts and women dumb down their experience, values, abilities, strengths, and verbalize their opinions. It actually baffles me how tense it can get in a room when someone actually shows up with presence- it makes so many people uncomfortable, and it's the #1 reason why so many of you aren't showing up.

Like I said, things could get hot. 

No seriously. Listen to this song excerpt - do you remember it? I used to jamto this song!

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Song: "This is Why I'm Hot" by MIMS

Clearly, this is a cocky song - if you walked around saying "I'm hot cuz I'm fly - you ain't cuz you not.....this is why, this is why, this is why I'm hot" probably not many people would want to be near you. When I sat down to write this post, that song came rolling back to my memory, and I couldn't help it - I had to grab a slither of it to post here.

I thought it might be useful to outline some key differences in cocky attitudes and confident attitudes, since you and I are both human and we're all insecure at one point or another.

Education goes a long way in simply understanding when we're being insecure and thus, labeling someone incorrectly as cocky when they're just confident. It also helps us in checkin'-ourself-before-we-wreck-ourself - knowing when we're acting cocky vs. confident.

It can sometimes feel like a fine line, but you and I have to learn the signs and how to be honest with ourselves. If we're not going to be honest about our motives, there's no since in me writing this blog post. Learning the difference starts with honesty.

The "Way" You Say It (Tone)

Confident: "I could really help you with _________ - I worked in retail for over 6 years and have learned some things that I think you would love."


Cocky: "I'm better than anyone at _____________ - I worked in retail for over 6 years and know everything there is to know about it."

Do you hear the tone difference? People are more likely to respond to the confident tone. With cockiness, watch for unrealistic statements. Obviously, this person doesn't know everyone in the world and thus, there's no way they can even know everything there is to know on the subject - they haven't actually compared themselves to every human being who's done retail. It's unrealistic.

The "Reason" You Say It (Motives)

Confident: "I would love to see you be successful with ______. Maybe I could help you _______ since I have some experience in that area."


Cocky: "I don't think you will be successful working with _______. She doesn't have near as much experience and I don't really like her anyway - you should let me help you."

The confident motive here is open-hearted. It clearly says that, the decision is yours, but I do think I can help. The cocky motive is clearly only about getting the one-up and being better than someone else. Two very different motives.

How "Often" You Say It (Pushy)

Confident: "I really hope you'll let me help you with _________. I've been there, done that, and you know I can really help you get it done." (Stated once)


Cocky: "Why are you _____? He has no clue what he's talking about - what you need to do is _____. You know no one else is going to be able to ________. You're making the wrong decision. I know you think _______, but ___________." (Peltering w/ questions/statements to state a case)

Contrary to the thesaurus online, assertiveness is not the same thing as 'pushy' and I resent the fact that it's even listed in the thesaurus as a synonym of assertiveness. Assertiveness, in its purest form, is harmonious and confident. It only needs to state something once and leave it be. It leaves behind clarity and confidence in the mind of the recipient.

We've all been insecure at one time or another. When that happens, we feel we have to repeat ourselves over and over again - saying the same thing a hundred different ways. When someone pushes their agenda constantly on you, there's something off. They either have a motive they're trying to accomplish or they feel insecure. One or both of those is at play.

Communicating with a Cocky Person

This can be really difficult - especially if their ego is the size of Dallas. But, you won't be able to say you didn't try.

Using these tips above, you could approach the person and let them know how they're coming off. Surprisingly, a lot of cocky people know they're cocky and they really don't give a crap - approaching them will feel like an affirmation of who they are.

But, on occasion, you will find someone who genuinely doesn't mean to come across that way. View them with empathetic eyes - maybe they grew up with a super hard parental system in their home or they have been through a lot of trauma and haven't learned how to not use cockiness as a defense mechanism to protect themselves from harm.

There can be many things at play psychologically/emotionally fueling this way of communicating, so give someone the BOD (benefit of the doubt). You can approach them and let them know how they're making you feel and what it is about it - their tone, their seeming motive, or how often they pelter you with statements & questions.

You'll know immediately, based on how they react, if they are taking you seriously or not. If someone doesn't want to have the conversation or they're okay being a cocka-doodle-doo, stay away from them as often as possible.

In the comments, I'd love to know:

Is there someone you know who is just downright cocky? How do you deal with it?

Thanks for reading as always, and I hope this was helpful,


Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash