Six ways to tell if you may be one, and how to change.

Are You a Narcissist?

How well or poorly a person listens is a primary indicator of narcissism.

Someone who looks to understand what's interesting in what others say, what makes sense about it, is probably reasonably emotionally healthy.  Disparaging or ignoring others' input suggests narcissistic patterns. According to Psychology Today, the following 6 patterns can identify a narcissist.

Sign #1:  Unilateral listening. 

What you want and what you have to say are all that matters when you talk with others.  When you make decisions what others want, their concerns, their feelings..these are mere whispers, inconveniences and irrelevancies.  When you discuss issues, you believe that only your opinions are right.  Others are wrong or else of minimal importance.  If others expect to have input, they are undermining you as far as you are concerned.   

Narcissistic listening dismisses, negates, ignores, minimizes, denigrates or otherwise renders irrelevant other people’s concerns and comments.  A tone of contempt is particularly strong narcissistic indicator.

Another narcissistic indicator is, more often than not, responding to what others say by beginning with the word “But….”  But is a backspace-delete key that negates whatever came before, such as what someone else has said.  The but eraser deletes others' viewpoints from the discussion.

Sign #2  It’s all about you.

You think you know more, you know better, you’re more interesting, than anyone else. When you talk to others, it’s mostly about you.  In conversations, you take up most of the air time. Almost all of your chatter is about what you have done, and what you are thinking about.

If someone else begin to talk about themselves, You link back to something in your life so that the focus of the discussion again turns onto you. When you want something, you need to have it. Never mind how anyone else feels about it; it’s all about you.

Sign #3:  You think the rules don’t apply to you. 

You think can have affairs, cut into a line where others are waiting, cheat on your taxes, and ignore rules that get in the way of you doing what you want…rules are for other people to follow.

Sign #4:  You consider other people’s concerns to really be criticisms of you, and you hate being criticized…no matter how constructively.

Narcissists paradoxically manifest both an inflated idea of their own importance and quickness to feel deflated by negative feedback. Criticism hurts.  You think that can criticize others, and often do, but if someone criticizes you they’re hurting your feelings so you’ll hurt them back.

Because narcissists think everything is about them, they hear others’ attempts to talk about personal feelings as veiled criticisms of themselves. Since “it's all about me” others feelings must be about what You have been doing. If they are talking about their feelings, even if they were engendered by situations at work or with friends that have nothing to do with you, you interpret their negative feelings as indirect criticism of you.

The clinical term for taking others' concerns as personal criticism is personalizing. “I'm feeling lonely,”  gets heard by someone who is narcissistic as an accusation: “You don't spend enough time with me.”

Sign #5:  You Are right.  Everyone else is wrong.  So when things go wrong between you and others, it’s always their fault. 

You can’t be expected to apologize or to admit blame. If others expect you to say how you’ve contributed to a problem, you’ll get mad at them. Unwillingness to take responsibility for mistakes may come from confusing the part with the whole. “If I've done one thing that's not right, then I must be all bad.”  That's all-or-nothing thinking.

Whatever the source of the sensitivity to criticism and difficulty admitting mistakes, the upshot is a tendency to blame others when anything has gone wrong.  Constant blaming and fault-finding in others feel safer to narcissists than looking to discover, learn and grow from their own part in difficulties.

Sign #6:  You may be quick to anger but you think that when you get angry, it's because of them . . .

They made you mad. They didn’t listen to you.  They criticized you.  They’re trying to control you.  Their view is wrong.   You think they always need to apologize, not you. 

Narcissists often show major charm and social agility.  At the same time, these seemingly super-confident folks can be quick to anger.  When they do become inflamed, they then immediately blame their anger on others. 

If all of the above sound like you, it doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause. The bottom line is that “narcissism” is basically habit-patterns, and habits can be changed. Awareness of your narcissistic tendencies is a strong first step that can empower you to notice and fix slippages. Learning to be a better listener can be an important step to changing your behavior.


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