“Professionalism” probably means different things to different people. The Internet yields this checklist, which I find reasonably accurate:
“The eight core characteristics of professionalism are: Competence, Knowledge, Conscientiousness, Integrity, Respect, Emotional Intelligence, Appropriateness, and Confidence.”
Of these, the one I find most interesting is confidence.
“Well-founded confidence reassures and motivates other people, boosting your ability to influence and lead.”
The Cambridge Dictionary defines arrogance as “the quality of being unpleasantly proud and behaving as if you are more important than, or know more than, other people,” and provides an interesting example.
“He has a self-confidence that is sometimes seen as arrogance.”
In other words, there’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance, and we all know people who are inclined to pole vault over it.
However, I’d argue that while often overbearing attitudes similar to arrogance are driven by malice, just as often they result from issues of self-presentation pertaining to emotional intelligence and appropriateness.
Or, what seems to others as arrogance is nothing more than an inability to express oneself with appropriateness, this being a trait potentially capable of modification, as when I was sent to the speech lab as a first-grader to correct an impediment.
If you mean well and have constructive thoughts, yet come across as arrogant when seeking to verbalize them, the positive news is that with diligence and self-awareness, the unintended perceptions can be lessened, enabling us to focus on the message rather than the manner in which it is conveyed.
Unless, of course, I’m mistaken and it really is arrogance according to the classical definition.
Let’s hope not.