Narcissistic Person Traits: 9 Major Signs to Watch Out For

Narcissistic person traits can be tricky to identify, especially since they are often masked by charm and charisma. Typically, these traits revolve around a persistent pattern of grandiosity, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.

It’s important to note that everyone exhibits some of these traits occasionally – a small dose of narcissism can actually be beneficial in some situations. However, when these traits are taken to extreme, as in the case of individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) they become destructive, impacting their relationships and daily life.

Narcissistic Person Traits

The Most Common Narcissistic Person Traits

From grandiosity and entitlement to a lack of empathy and constant need for admiration, each of these traits paint a piece of the larger picture of what it means to live with, or interact with, a narcissistic person.

Let’s take a closer look at these traits to better comprehend this intricate psychological condition.

1. Grandiosity

Grandiosity is one of the most conspicuous traits of a narcissistic person. They have a deep-seated belief that they are special and unique, setting them apart from others. This sense of grandeur is most often not rooted in reality or backed by significant achievements.

For instance, a narcissist might boast about their managerial prowess, projecting themselves as a highly effective leader. However, the reality could be starkly different. Their leadership style might be causing frequent team conflicts and leading to high turnover rates.

Despite these obvious signs of ineffective management, the narcissist continues to believe in their superiority. This disconnect between their self-perception and reality is a hallmark of narcissistic grandiosity.

2. Need for Admiration

Another very common narcissistic trait is a constant craving for admiration.

Narcissists are not merely content with self-adulation, They also seek external validation to reinforce their inflated self-image. This constant craving for admiration often drives them to behave in ways designed to attract praise and recognition.

Their desire for admiration is a bottomless pit, a ceaseless quest for applause, compliments, and affirmation. They thrive on this steady stream of praise, which acts as a mirror reflecting the grandeur they believe themselves to possess.

However, this dependency on external validation makes them vulnerable. If the admiration they receive falls short of their expectations, it can trigger negative emotions. They become agitated or angry, perceiving the lack of adulation as a slight against their worth.

Even well-intended constructive criticism can be misconstrued as an affront, leading to defensive reactions rather than introspection.

For example, a narcissist may react negatively to feedback at work, interpreting it as a personal attack rather than an opportunity for growth. They might dismiss, deflect, or respond with hostility to such criticism, further straining professional relationships.

Narcissistic Person Traits

3. Lack of Empathy

Another defining narcissistic trait is a distinct lack of empathy, which can be further divided into two categories: emotional and cognitive empathy.

Emotional empathy, also known as affective empathy, refers to the ability to respond appropriately to another person’s emotional state. It involves sharing and understanding the feelings of others on an emotional level.

Cognitive empathy, on the other hand, involves understanding someone else’s emotions intellectually. It’s about recognizing and understanding another person’s emotional state, even if you don’t share those feelings.

Narcissists often display a significant deficiency in both types of empathy.

Their focus is primarily on their own needs and desires, which take precedence over the emotions of others.

They do not care about the distress they cause by their actions, and they will disregard the feelings of others if acknowledging them doesn’t serve their self-interest.

4. Exploitative Behavior

Exploitative behavior is a common trait among narcissists. They will not hesitate to manipulate or deceive others to accomplish their objectives, displaying an absolute disregard for the feelings or well-being of those they exploit.

This exploitative nature is deeply rooted in their self-centered worldview, where their personal desires and goals overshadow all else.

Narcissists are proficient in identifying and capitalizing on the vulnerabilities of others for their advantage. They often have an astute understanding of human psychology, skillfully maneuvering situations to favor their interests.

Their charisma and charm often camouflages their exploitative tendencies, making it challenging for others to realize that they are being manipulated until it’s potentially too late.

Narcissistic Person Traits

5. Narcissistic Person Traits – Envy

Envy is a characteristic trait that often lurks beneath the surface of a narcissist’s grandiose self-image. Despite portraying an image of superiority and self-assuredness, they envy anyone who possesses what they crave or who receives more recognition or accolades.

This envy arises from their deep-seated need for affirmation and admiration.

When they perceive that someone else is receiving what they believe is rightfully theirs, it triggers feelings of envy and resentment. This can lead to a host of negative behaviors, including attempts to belittle the person’s achievements, spreading rumors, or even sabotaging their success.

Conversely, narcissists also operate under the belief that others are envious of them. They perceive themselves as superior, and therefore, assume that others must be jealous of their accomplishments, status, or possessions. This belief serves to reinforce their grandiose self-image and shields them from any feelings of inadequacy.

Narcissistic Person Traits

6. Narcissistic Person Traits – Entitlement

Narcissists firmly believe they deserve special treatment and will become irritated or even angry if they don’t receive what they perceive as their due. This sense of entitlement extends to various aspects of their life, from personal relationships to professional environments, and even to public spaces.

For instance, in social situations, a narcissist may expect preferential treatment such as skipping lines, receiving exclusive benefits, or being the center of attention.

In professional settings, narcissists will feel entitled to promotions, recognition, or perks, irrespective of their actual performance or contribution. They tend to overestimate their abilities and accomplishments, leading to unrealistic expectations and demands.

narcissistic rage

7. Narcissistic Person Traits – Arrogance

Narcissists exude an inflated sense of superiority. They believe they are inherently superior and more important than others, which leads to a disregard for other people’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas.

It is common for narcissists to monopolize conversations, focusing predominantly on themselves and their achievements, often at the expense of others’ voices.

This arrogance can also manifest in a narcissist’s inability to accept criticism or feedback. This behavior is a defense mechanism to protect their fragile self-esteem and uphold their grandiose self-perception.

narcissist

8. Narcissistic Person Traits – Fantasies of Success and Power

Narcissists often indulge in fantasies of unlimited success, power, beauty, or ideal love. For instance, a narcissist may daydream about achieving great fame or wealth, even when their current circumstances suggest otherwise.

They might envision themselves as powerful figures, superior intellects, or irresistible lovers, far removed from the reality of their actual capabilities or achievements.

These fantasies often extend beyond the bounds of reality, bordering on delusion. When faced with setbacks, failures, or criticism, they retreat into their world of fantasies where they are always the victors, always admired, and always in control.

This allows them to shield themselves from the harsh realities of their shortcomings and maintain their inflated self-image.

narcissism checklist fantasies of success

9. Narcissistic Person Traits – Insensitivity

Narcissists invariably prioritize their own needs and desires, often at the expense of others, and show little consideration for the impact of their actions on those around them.

This insensitivity is closely tied to the narcissist’s inflated self-perception and sense of entitlement. Additionally, their need for constant admiration and affirmation can make them oblivious to others’ needs or feelings unless it serves their purpose.

Interestingly, while narcissists generally lack empathy, they can show remarkable acuity in identifying others’ vulnerabilities. However, rather than fostering understanding or compassion, this awareness is used to manipulate, control, or belittle others to boost their own self-esteem or gain advantage.

narcissist eyes stare

Narcissistic Traits vs Narcissistic Personality Disorder

While the abovementioned narcissistic traits, such as arrogance, fantasies of success and power, and insensitivity, can be observed in many individuals to varying degrees, it’s crucial to differentiate between narcissistic traits and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Having narcissistic traits does not necessarily mean that a person has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Diagnostic Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association, serves as a primary tool for mental health professionals across the globe to diagnose mental disorders.

This manual, through its meticulous categorization and detailed definitions, ensures a standardized diagnosis process. According to these diagnostic guidelines, an individual must exhibit at least five out of the abovementioned nine narcissistic traits for a formal Narcissistic Personality Disorder diagnosis.

It’s important to note that these traits must not only be present but also persistent, pervasive, and significantly impair the individual’s personal, social, or occupational functioning.

They should not be isolated instances but rather a consistent pattern of behavior across diverse contexts and over an extended period of time.

This rigorous diagnostic process ensures that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not diagnosed lightly or misunderstood as occasional narcissistic traits that many individuals might exhibit.

npd diagnosis

Concluding Thoughts on Narcissistic Person Traits

Narcissistic traits, such as grandiosity, a need for admiration, and insensitivity towards others, can be challenging to navigate, both for the individuals who possess these traits and for those around them. These characteristics can profoundly impact relationships, fostering conflict and misunderstandings.

However, it’s important to distinguish between narcissistic traits and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. While many people may display certain narcissistic behaviors at times, NPD is a severe mental health disorder that requires a specific set of criteria to be met for diagnosis. It’s a pervasive and persistent pattern of behavior that significantly impairs an individual’s daily functioning.

If you or someone you know consistently exhibits narcissistic traits that cause distress or dysfunction, it’s crucial to seek professional help. Mental health professionals can provide the necessary support and intervention strategies to manage these traits and improve overall well-being.

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