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13 Common Behaviors and Values of Narcissistic People

How to identify narcissism in those around you.

Key points

  • People with narcissistic personalities may behave differently than non-narcissists, such as shunning introspection and denying mistakes.
  • Narcissists may also have different values than non-narcissists, such as status and image as opposed to compassion and authenticity.
  • Identifying the destructive behaviors that characterize narcissism can help people recognize and cope with narcissistic people.
Prazis Images/Shutterstock
Source: Prazis Images/Shutterstock

If you have a person with high levels of narcissism in your life, it is more likely that you will become exhausted, overwhelmed, or confused than it is that the narcissist will change.

People with a narcissistic style or diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder stubbornly cling to their psychological defenses and rarely cease promoting their own image. Over time, you may become inured to how extreme and costly their actions are.

That's why it is important to do a reality check on narcissistic behaviors as opposed to healthier behaviors.

Differences in Behavior

Characteristics of Narcissists:

  • Shun introspection
  • Lack empathy
  • Become hypersensitive to slights
  • Act impulsively
  • Spoil others’ good moods
  • Deny or hide mistakes
  • Are driven by fear
  • Blame others
  • Stonewall or withdraw when upset
  • Get enraged when criticized
  • Pursue win-lose strategies
  • Hold grudges
  • Have one-way relationships

Characteristics of Non-Narcissists:

  • Value introspection
  • Care about the feelings of others
  • Don’t personalize others’ actions
  • Seek spontaneity
  • Celebrate others’ good moods
  • Seek to learn from mistakes
  • Cultivate hope
  • Take responsibility
  • Communicate when upset
  • Accept constructive criticism
  • Seek win-win solutions
  • Seek resolution
  • Have reciprocal relationships

Narcissistic behaviors such as those listed above are generally designed to disguise insecurities. Some behaviors, like avoiding introspection, denying mistakes, stonewalling, or blaming others, seek to shine the spotlight away from a narcissist's perceived flaws.

Others, such as spoiling others' good moods, holding grudges, and being hypersensitive to slights and criticism, are designed to put others on the defensive in hopes that others will be less likely to challenge a narcissist's fragile ego and shaky self-image.

Still others, such as having one-way relationships or lacking empathy, reflect the difficulties narcissists have in engaging in anything other than superficial or transactional relationships.

Differences in Values

The contrast between people with narcissism and healthier individuals is also striking in what they value.

Values of People with Narcissism:

  • Perfection
  • Get attention from others
  • Superiority
  • Winning
  • Status
  • Image

Values of Non-Narcissists:

  • Growth
  • Connect with others
  • Equality
  • Fairness
  • Compassion
  • Authenticity

Narcissists hold values such as perfection, winning, superiority, and status in the hope that doing so will bring them greater attention and approval. Their values, like their behaviors, tend to be self-aggrandizing, as opposed to more inclusive values such as connection, compassion, and authenticity held by non-narcissists.

Recognizing how different the behaviors and values of narcissistic people are can give rise to four valuable questions:

Artur Szczybylo/Shutterstock
Source: Artur Szczybylo/Shutterstock
  1. Do you allow people with narcissism to treat you differently than you let others treat you?
  2. If so, why?
  3. What is the cost?
  4. Is it worth it?

The answers to these questions can lead you to set healthier boundaries with people who are narcissistic.

As with most personality disorders, narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by distorted views of one's self, others, and the world. By seeing such distortions, and then identifying and staying true to your values, you can hold your own in the face of narcissistic people and behavior.

Copyright © 2021 Dan Neuharth PhD MFT

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