Do you ever get weird vibes from certain people but can’t pinpoint why? Do you think they display negative narcissistic traits?
Narcissism is a behavior often associated with an inflated ego. But what if that wasn’t the case for all narcissists? What if certain personality traits are harder to correlate with narcissism? Read on to discover some narcissistic traits that go unnoticed and how to identify them.
The Narcissistic Traits Never to Overlook
The most common definition of narcissism revolves around extreme self-involvement. It is a behavior that makes a person ignore the needs of the people around them. Usually, narcissists see themselves as better than most. While most people can occasionally display narcissistic behaviors, that doesn’t mean they are a narcissist.
To be a “true” narcissist, one needs to show frequent disregard of others’ feelings and a lack of empathy. They don’t understand how their behavior can affect others and don’t care. Being self-centered is common for these types of people.
While narcissism is a trait, it can signify a personality disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It is essential to understand that narcissism is a spectrum. Not all narcissists have NPD. Only the people on the higher end of the spectrum are classified as suffering from NPD. The people on the lower end are still narcissists but don’t suffer from this mental health disorder.
The Five Most Frequent Narcissistic Traits
Common narcissistic traits to look for when you suspect someone might be narcissistic are:
- Sense of entitlement
- Manipulative behaviors
- Need for admiration
- Lack of empathy
The problem with this portrayal of narcissism is that it makes people think it’s an overt behavior. While that’s true in most cases, narcissists don’t have to be honest about their true selves. This behavior is not all about being loud and flashy.
In recent years, in-depth studies on this behavior have determined two types of narcissism: covert and overt. Overt narcissism is the one discussed previously and the most prominent display of narcissistic behaviors. Covert narcissism is the one harder to spot.
The covert narcissist is introverted and reserved. How is that possible, you might ask? Isn’t that a contradiction? Well, no, and this makes sense. A study at NYU determined that narcissism is often driven by insecurity. Because of that, even they need reassurance. And if they can’t get it through showing-off, they will act vulnerable. As psychoanalyst Maxine Mei-Fung Chung stated, the mask of the wounded narcissist conceals pain and sadness.
4 Narcissistic Traits Most People Overlook
So, what narcissistic traits go unnoticed, and how can you become aware of them?
1. Habitual Non-Listening
Whether covert or overt, many narcissists engage in this behavior, and they get away with it. Because people think some people like talking, being around someone talkative who isn’t a listener doesn’t seem suspicious. But this is a red flag that you should be on the lookout for.
You already know that narcissists are full of themselves. So, it only makes sense that they would like the sound of their voice. They think they know best, so they don’t bother listening to any other perspective if it doesn’t coincide with theirs. Instead, they take over the conversation to ensure everyone knows what they think.
But talking a lot isn’t a red flag by itself. Extroverts tend to be big talkers, that doesn’t mean they have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The main difference is the reason why they talk. Extroverts and others who like talking will entertain, tell a story, or fill the silence. But narcissists speak to tell you how great they are. They create extravagant tales about their achievements. And, when they talk, they’re not interested in dialogue. They don’t care what you say as long as they know you have been informed about their greatness. They are perfectly content with delivering a monologue.
Hearing versus listening
Another tell is that even when they listen, they do so superficially. These folks hear instead of listening. They let you talk while they nod and think about anything but what you’re saying. They only care about finding an opening where they can slide in and start boasting about themselves again.
Even covert narcissists will engage in non-listening. While they will pretend to listen and let you talk for more extended periods, they will do so just for show. They will have the façade of a concerned friend who is interested in what you have to say. But when it comes to giving you advice or anything like that, they won’t be able to because they didn’t truly listen.
When you see a person taking over the conversation, be wary of their intentions. The best way to unmask narcissists is to ask them questions about the conversation they just listened to. If they have no idea what it was about, that’s your sign they’re exhibiting narcissistic traits.
2. Procrastination (one of the most easily missed narcissistic traits)
This trait is more often associated with other mental health disorders, like depression. But what most people don’t know is that narcissists, especially covert ones, engage in this often.
Narcissists need to convince others, and themselves, just how perfect they are. Thus, they might choose not to engage in certain activities because they fear failure. They would rather have fewer successes but a clean record than do a lot but fail often. If they engage in an activity and don’t do it perfectly, that ruins the façade they worked so hard to create. If they procrastinate, they have excuses for not doing things. And if they do something subpar, they can save face by saying they started at the last second.
That’s not the only reason they engage in procrastination, though. Sometimes narcissists don’t care about doing certain things. They have an innate disregard for most activities. If they don’t personally like something, why bother doing it? More often than not, you will not see a narcissist doing volunteer work. They don’t care about doing things for others. The only reason why they might engage in certain charitable activities is if they gain something from it. The gains can be brownie points from friends, social connections, a better image, or something to add to the CV; it doesn’t matter. But they will not bother doing things if that personal gain doesn’t exist.
Be careful around someone who constantly delays doing things or does nothing more than what makes them look good. You might be dealing with a narcissist.
Self-deprecating humor is popular among younger people. In most cases, it’s the effect of cultural changes. Sometimes, it can reveal narcissistic traits.
This all stems from narcissists trying to conceal that they have low self-esteem. Most of them do this by acting overly confident. Some take it to the other extreme. They become excessively modest, belittling themselves through the jokes they make. But it’s all a ploy. In reality, they’re just fishing for compliments, trying to get the validation they need to boost their confidence.
If you’ve ever heard someone saying, “I’m the most horrible person ever, am I right?” that’s probably just a manipulation tactic. It’s meant to put the listeners in a tight spot, where they can agree and move on with their life. Instead, they’re forced to be reassuring, thus feeding the narcissist’s ego. Plus, if they cover up this attempt at manipulation in the form of humor, they can’t be confronted about their true intentions. They can always say, “I’m just joking!”.
Narcissists often couple this type of humor with victim behavior. The more vulnerable they can make themselves seem, the more leeway they will have to act wrong. They rely on fear and guilt-tripping as a means to manipulate. Making jokes about how they look, how stupid they are, makes the people around them feel responsible for them. And once you become their rescuer, they will only manipulate you for their gains.
Beware of people who go overboard with this type of humor and people who play the victim. Narcissism is one of the least problematic behaviors that display this trait. Worst case, you might be dealing with sociopaths.
4. Reactive To Criticism
Most people are open to a certain degree of criticism, especially when they are criticized constructively. If your friend advises you to try a different sauce when you cook your pasta, you’ll say “thanks,” and that’s it. You certainly won’t lose your mind. Right?
Well, that’s true for most people. But narcissists tend to be reactionary. Interpreting every criticism negatively is a sign of that person displaying narcissistic traits. The more someone blows a small comment out of proportion, the warier you should be. If someone starts raging when hearing even the most well-intentioned advice, you know something is up.
Narcissists can’t accept that people don’t see them as perfect. They take every comment as a personal attack. Because they fear that their mask of perfection is cracked, they lose it and react when given advice. Rage is simply a defense mechanism to protect their inflated ego. Sometimes, they act like their survival is dependent on being right.
Even if they’re not directly criticized but instead presented with different viewpoints than the ones they hold, they react the same. It’s always “my way or the highway” with these people. Be careful if you know someone who gets angry when presented with advice or alternative opinions. It’s possible you are dealing with a narcissist, and you’d better distance yourself from them than try to make them see reason.
The best conclusion to everything discussed is that you shouldn’t stereotype anything. So many stereotypes and misconceptions are associated with narcissistic traits that people overlook the subtler nuances.
When identifying narcissists, don’t just look for the loudest and most full of themselves. Sometimes, the people who seem the most vulnerable are the most dangerous. Pay attention to people who don’t listen to you, procrastinate, and go crazy when criticized. A closer look might show you who they are. Most importantly, please don’t fall for their self-deprecating humor and victim behavior. Remember, the people who act like that can always be manipulators with inflated egos.