You’re more likely to find a narcissist in the C-suite than on the street, research suggests.
That’s because the traits that make narcissists so difficult to hang out with or date — including a constant need for validation, a willingness to control people, and a ruthlessness in getting their needs met — happen to make them super effective at rising up the ranks.
To help you figure out if you are, or perhaps your boss is, a narcissist, we combed through PsychologyToday.com and the psychology literature looking for patterns of narcissistic behavior. We also spoke with Joseph Burgo, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of “The Narcissist You Know.”
Here are common signs of narcissism.
1. You are a bad sport
Burgo says some narcissists are bullies — and one of their most troublesome traits is their tendency to be a sore loser and a sore winner.
For example, when they lose in a sports match, they might try to humiliate the referee. When they win, they might gloat excessively or act abusive to the losing party.
2. You constantly feel underappreciated
The kind of people that Burgo calls “grandiose” narcissists always hold a grievance against the world.
They typically feel entitled to something better and think they’re not getting the recognition they deserve from others.
3. If you’re not grandiose, then you’re introverted, hypersensitive, defensive, and anxious
Psychologists talk about the “two faces of narcissism.” On one end there’s the hyper-aggressive, super-loud type. But there’s a softer form of narcissism, too. It’s called “covert narcissism,” which is denoted by introversion, hypersensitivity, defensiveness, and anxiety.
“Both shades of narcissism shared a common core of conceit, arrogance, and the tendency to give in to one’s own needs and disregard others,” psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman reports in Scientific American.
4. You think everyone else is stupid
Many narcissists are know-it-alls, and have a hard time getting along with coworkers and friends because they refuse to believe they could possibly be wrong about anything.
Burgo has observed that these narcissists walk around with a marked sense of superiority to others and have a “my way or the highway” approach to decision-making.
5. You really like to swear at people
Psychologists Nicholas Holtzman and Michael Strube from Washington University in St. Louis found in a study that subjects who scored higher in narcissism are argumentative and curse more than their modest counterparts.
They also tend to use more sexually explicit language.