Spotting a narcissist is harder than you may imagine because one of the key signs of this personality type is that they’re charming. It’s easy to be drawn into a narcissist’s manipulation without even realizing it.
However, knowing how to spot (and manage) a narcissist will help you to manage your relationship with them without causing friction between you.
Maybe you’re the narcissist in your social circle and haven’t realized it yet. Knowing that this is the driver for many of your behaviors will allow you to build on your traits in a positive way.
Here, we consider what it means to be a narcissist and how to spot the signs of a narcissist in either yourself or somebody you know.
What Is a Narcissist?
A narcissist is somebody who feels that they are the center of their world – and everybody else’s, too.
They put their own feelings first and find ways to put other people down to make themselves feel better. This is the most important thing to understand about narcissists: their desire to boost their ego is strongly based on a deep-seated fear of inadequacy.
Is Narcissism a Bad Personality Trait?
Narcissism is defined as a mental health condition called ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ (NPD), but this term can be misleading.
There are some positive things that can come of this personality trait – if the person acknowledges their condition and is able to use it in a good way.
For example, narcissists are charming and persuasive, which makes them great in sales-related jobs. They are also often over-achievers who want to always better themselves in their work, career, and appearance.
However, there are many elements to narcissism that can be difficult for both the narcissist and the people around them.
Top Signs of a Narcissist and How to Positively Manage Them
Once you know whether you – or somebody you know – has NPD, it is easier to learn how to manage their behavior without causing friction in your relationship.
If you, or someone around you, is exhibiting several of these traits, they are likely to be a narcissist. Take note of the coping strategies in each section to help you maintain a positive relationship with the people around you, or with the narcissist.
So, are you a narcissist?
- You’re Bad at Losing Games
Losing isn’t something you take lightly.
Maybe you’ve been known to flip the Monopoly board over in a rage during a family game at Thanksgiving. Perhaps you’ve whittled down golfing partners to a rare few still willing to play against you.
If you find losing even fun games or sports difficult, it’s a key sign you – or the person you know – is a narcissist.
Manage this by breathing deeply when somebody beats you at a game, or walk away from a person who is becoming frustrated as they lose.
- You like to Control Social Situations
If you love to lead people in all social or work situations and struggle to allow someone else to take over, this could mean you’re a narcissist.
Do you have a boss that loves to micro-manage and never let go of a project? Perhaps you feel they patronize you with their advice. These are classic examples of a narcissist, too.
Manage this by using the control to your advantage and channel your leadership skills in your career. Learn management techniques such as delegation, too, and you’ll find it easier to work with others while leading them.
- You Place High Importance on Appearances
Narcissus, the legend tells, fell in love with his own reflection. This is where the term ‘narcissistic’ comes from and is a common sign of someone with NPD.
What is often forgotten about the myth is that he fell in love with everything he saw as beautiful. Narcissists are the same, choosing friends and lovers who they regard to be physically above average in looks.
Manage this by using your interest in attaining physical beauty to your advantage. Many narcissists, for example, use Instagram and social media to earn money via sponsored health and fitness promotions.
If you know someone with NPD, remember that their high standards are personal to them – and not something they can enforce over you.
- You Can’t Recall What Someone Has Just Said
People with NPD are not good active listeners. Instead of paying attention to what another person is saying, they will be thinking of what they are going to say next.
This leads to communication problems and a ‘me, me, me’ attitude that many people recognize as narcissistic.
Manage this by learning to actively listen to other people and asking questions to practice this skill. If you’re talking to someone with narcissistic tendencies, it may help to follow up your conversation in writing with a quick email to summarize what’s been said.
- You Criticize Others (But Struggle to Take Criticism Yourself)
The ego plays nasty tricks on people with NPD. On the one hand, their hugely inflated sense of self-esteem gives them a feeling of superiority over others.
This means they’ll often insist that they’re right in a situation, even when the evidence points to the contrary. A narcissist will hand out criticism to others without regard for their emotions, under the guise of their superiority meaning they know better.
On the other hand, the delicate and fragile ego underneath the bravado of someone with NPD means the smallest criticism can feel like a huge challenge to their character. They are easily offended and will go on the defense to criticism very quickly.
Manage this by understanding that criticism isn’t a personal attack but instead an opportunity to learn. If you’re working with a narcissist, frame your criticism in the ego sandwich. Say one good thing, provide the criticism, and then finish off with another good thing.
Are You a Narcissist?
Now you know the most common signs of a narcissist, do you think you might be one? Or do you know someone who is?
Perhaps this list has provided you a ‘lightbulb’ moment into understanding your behavior or that of someone you know.
Understanding how to manage behaviors and traits of narcissistic personality disorder is an ideal way to help someone with NPD live a more fulfilling life. If you, or someone you know, shows traits in the list above, book a consultation with Dr. Blair to start the journey to healing.