Confident or Arrogant

Some viva candidates find themselves concerned that they might overstep the line from being confident about their research to being arrogant in their thesis defence. I understand the worry, but typically think there’s not a great deal to be concerned about.

Feeling confident is what you need for the viva. Feeling arrogant is something you really don’t want when you meet your examiners.

Confident says to examiners, “I’m ready for you.” Arrogant says, “I’m better than you.”

Confident comes from building knowledge and talent through hard work. Arrogant assumes that they’re the only one who could do that work.

The distance between confidence and arrogance isn’t stepping over a line: they are opposite ends of a spectrum. You have to take a lot of steps to walk from well-earned confidence to the bluster of arrogance. Find confidence in honestly reflecting on how you’ve got to where you are, rather than rudely proclaiming that you’ve made it.