Chances are, you’ve encountered a narcissist. You know, that friend who somehow manages to revert every topic of conversation back to himself; the colleague who is always bragging about having the latest, greatest of everything, the family member who thinks she is hotter, smarter and just generally better than you at everything.
But sometimes the signs of narcissism are not always obvious, and yes, it’s possible to have some traits of narcissism without having full-blown, clinically diagnosed narcissistic personality disorder, which is when narcissism starts to have a serious, negative impact on everyday life and relationships. Here’s how to spot a narcissist…
They’re likable – at least, at first glance.
Narcissists tend to be great at first impressions, coming across as very charismatic and personable.
Not all narcissists are loud and proud. In fact, some are quiet and shy.
While the loud and braggy types are the ones people usually picture when thinking about narcissists, they can actually be quiet and reserved. There actually two kinds of expressions of narcissism: grandiose, which is where the bragging and showing off is exhibited, and shy, where a person may not be as forthright or be out there with a bullhorn, but is sitting in the corner, fantasising about when their day will come, and resenting others.
That’s not to say that narcissists are always either grandiose or shy. In most people, there’s elements of both shy narcissism and grandiose narcissism.
They can often be found in leadership roles.
Not that that makes them good leaders, but narcissists often find themselves in leadership positions because people who are narcissistic want to be leaders.
They always manage to make the conversation about themselves.
You could start talking to a person about how you have cancer, and pretty soon you’re talking about their new car.
They’re also guilty of name-dropping.
It’s all in the name of self-promotion and making themselves seem better — which includes the tactic of name-dropping.
They like nice things.
Now, we’re not saying that all shopaholics or materialistic people are narcissists, or that all narcissists are also shopaholics. But one of the hallmark traits of narcissism is the desire to display high status, and this is often done with material items.
One place to differentiate it is that sometimes the shopaholic will tell you what good a deal she got on something, and the narcissist is more likely to emphasize how prestigious or status-oriented the thing is.
Appearance is everything to them.
Narcissists are not necessarily more attractive than other people, but they do take care of their appearance and place an importance on looking physically attractive. Not everyone who makes a point to take care of their appearance is a narcissist, but well-applied nails, hair and so on would be an indicator.
On Facebook, they have lots of friends – and not a single bad picture.
People who are narcissistic use it to maintain status, and so what they do is they tend to have more attractive photos, and more self-promoting, broader networks.
They leave a trail of wreckage behind them.
Does this person have a history of bad relationships and work experiences? Consider that a red flag. With narcissist CEOs for instance, you’ll see that that they’ve gone into companies, kind of wrecked them, then moved onto something else. In relationships, they may have infidelity, which destroys that relationship, and then they’ll move on to another one.
Everything is personal.
Particularly in the quieter narcissists, there may not be signs of overt self-reference and promotion. But there is defensiveness and reactive anger if they are not recognized or if they can’t get their way.
A narcissistic person probably has no idea he or she is a narcissist.
Narcissism in itself is sort of a double whammy, not just because you have disturbances or believe you’re special in some way more than others, but because those things in themselves will prevent you from seeing that you have these problems. In the more shy narcissists who may also experience symptoms of depression or anxiety, those other things may spur them to get professional help. But the grandiose people, because they feel superior or because they may even have initial success, they’re very unlikely to seek treatment. It would only be after they develop so many problems where they ask themselves, ‘I feel so great, I know I’m awesome, but why did everybody leave me?'”
You find yourself resorting to flattery just to maintain the peace with a narcissist.
While the best way to deal with a narcissist is to just cut the cord and run, there are certain circumstances where you have no choice but to deal. Maybe the narcissist is a family member, or maybe it’s your boss. In these cases, flattery is the best way to avoid conflict.
Men are more likely to be narcissists than women.
And the level of narcissism is higher among today’s millennials than previous generations at similar ages. As far as whether some professions or cultures have more narcissists than others, more research needs to be done to determine that.