36 indications to identify narcissists

How do you recognize narcissists?
Too much is too much! Dealing with narcissists



Narcissists are driven primarily by power, fame, and recognition. That’s not bad, right? If there weren’t so many people with narcissistic tendencies, there wouldn’t be many achievements and world records. However, we would not have to suffer from many disadvantages. As fascinating as narcissists may seem at first glance, they are in reality selfish and emotionally cold. Only their self-pity is boundless. Just the others make mistakes.

In the article, you will learn how to identify narcissists.

How can narcissists be identified?


The more of the following indications are observable, the more likely narcissistic tendencies are present. But please do not exaggerate; everyone has traces of the following tendencies.




36 signs of a narcissistic personality


This article is not aimed at diagnosing pathological narcissists, but rather at avoiding nasty contemporaries and not being abused by them.




1. Inadequate self-esteem


The self-esteem displayed seems inadequate in terms of personality, position, and experience. They claim a higher status than the environment wants to grant.




2. Self-interest


Narcissists are looking out for their advantage. As long as it gives them an advantage, they can appear nice and engaging. Once such people have reached their goal, this is over. Then it’s time for payback because narcissists have a good memory when it comes to taking revenge.




3. Arrogance


Very typical is arrogant behavior. The underlying need for superiority may be well hidden, but it drives narcissists. To achieve this longingly desired superiority, they will try to make their counterpart feel inferior. If you fall into the trap, you feel a little smaller, stupider, and more insignificant next to a narcissist.

For narcissists, everything they say and do is right simply because they say and do it. They expect that every utterance and action is accepted without hesitation as right and as the only truth.




4. Without considering losses


Narcissists hurt other people without the slightest inhibition or remorse. This makes such people so attractive for unpleasant tasks and paves their way to higher positions.




5. Striving for power


Very often the need is expressed to exert influence and strive for quick success. They usually show they are striving for dominance quite openly. Their choice of words alone makes their claim obvious.




6. Actors


If it serves their purposes, they can disguise themselves for a while and even seem more submissive. All the more merciless is their behavior after such an unpleasant phase for them.




7. Bad listener


They don’t care about other people’s babble unless it’s compliments. Or they can exploit it for their purposes.




8. Wiseguys


The wise guy can do everything, knows everything, …And attacks everyone who notices that it is not true.




9. Masters of the first impression


Narcissists are trained to make an above-average first impression. As dazzlers, they invest a lot of effort to impress.




10. Manipulators


Deviousness, frequent attempts at manipulation, and control of the environment are very familiar to narcissists.




11. Searches for praise


Compliments are requested, if necessary, with clear pressure instead of more gentle Fishing for Compliments. Otherwise, they rarely listen properly. Praise may be delivered without substance. Homages are accepted.




12. Poor victim


Even if they are richly endowed, it is still insufficient what they receive. The wonderful gift of God deserves more, much more.




13. They exert pressure


Narcissists exert pressure. Charmingly and seemingly subtly, they manipulatively convey what they expect from their counterpart, without any possibility of discussion.




14. They are more important than all other people


All men are equal, what a fallacy! The presence of a narcissist is a gift for the world around, ordinary people are an imposition. Those who do not realize this, thus only prove their stupidity.




15. They avoid emotional topics


Emotional topics are avoided. Emotions make people vulnerable, and that is the last thing narcissists want to be. If it gets too emotional, they quickly change the subject. Narcissists can certainly perceive the feelings and emotions of others. However, they are not interested in the emotional lives of other people to understand them better, but to gain an advantage from this knowledge.




16. Unilateral claims for themselves


Only the best is good enough for them. They live at a higher standard, even when their pockets are empty. Other people should limit themselves.




17. Masquerade


Narcissists aspire to degrees and titles, preferably also doctorates, from the Internet. Behind the façade, it often looks very disappointing.




19. Morality is something for others


Morale is only important in terms of not getting caught. Narcissists are even proud of it when they manage to get away with questionable behavior.




20. Self-centeredness


Me, me, me. Narcissists prefer to talk about themselves and their plans.




21. Talking instead of listening


They talk to people instead of with them. The others, the audience, should listen.




22. Critics


Criticism is abundantly distributed, but not accepted.




23. Arrogance


Narcissists consider people who follow rules to be stupid.




24. Vanity


Outstanding vanity is one of the defining characteristics. Narcissists want to be more beautiful than their surroundings, to be admired, and to be flawless. For this purpose, they make greater efforts and invest a great deal of money. Appearances are particularly important to them.




25. No real sympathy


Empathy is faked at best. Typical is the lack of real sadness and other emotional involvement. As a result, narcissists are incapable of loving, feeling remorse, or guilt.

Although narcissists are often good actors, attentive observers can see that real emotions are conspicuously rare. However, it requires appropriate knowledge.




26. Intransigence


Apologies are expected from other people but not given, because mistakes are only made by others. If you want to upset narcissists and turn them against you, then contradict them. Criticism or even the most constructive feedback is not welcome. If you ignore this, you will soon feel the consequences.




27. One-sided expectations


They expect that other people will put their needs aside in their favor.




28. They want to be admired


Narcissists are very keen on being admired by other people.




29. They are envious: there can be only ONE


Narcissists envy others a lot and think they are envied themselves. Mirror, mirror on the wall, nobody is as great as the narcissist. To achieve this, narcissists do their utmost to outdo others in various disciplines. If an ignorant person is then so insolent and does not respect this claim, narcissists often react with envy and devalue the success of other people with malice and resentment.




30. The supposed source of intelligence and inspiration


Their topics are far more important than those of other people. This is why narcissists interrupt their less qualified people in their environment more frequently.




31. Euphemists


If an ignorant person is then so insolent and does not respect this claim, narcissists regularly react with envy and devalue the success of other people with malice and resentment.




32. Tyrants


Equipped with power, the narcissist turns out to be a tyrant. Illusions and prayers of thrust do not change this.




33. Ruthless exploitation


For their personal goals, narcissists unscrupulously exploit other people and show overall parasitic behavior in relationships.




34. Difficult relationship with offspring


The relationship with their children and grandchildren is special. Here, the typical characteristics of narcissists collide with parenthood and the selfish desire to make their mark on the offspring.




35. The need for control


Narcissists avoid anything that reminds them that they may not always have everything in their lives under control. Therefore, they constantly try to demonstrate that they are setting the rules of the game. Exception: they can stage themselves as victims to gain advantages.




36. What a gift for the world


They also remind us more often, without being asked, that they are an immense enrichment for the world. Their grandiosity is almost unbearable. They are always better than other people. That is why they expect corresponding privileges that do justice to their outstanding importance.

Indications that you do not belong to the narcissists


Probably everyone has qualities in themselves that match narcissists. The quantity and combination make the toxicity.


Here, in a nutshell, a few hints that you are not a narcissist:

  • You have honest friends. Your friends may also give you uncomfortable feedback without being removed from your contact list.
  • You listen well. You listen because you care about other people and their needs.
  • You are authentic.
  • You know that other people are an enrichment to the world.


And, because it concerns so many people, I have dedicated a separate article about it: Help, am I a narcissist? 8 indications that you are not a narcissist


Beware of the first impression


Narcissists may radiate charm and act quite nice at first glance. Many seem eloquent, humorous, self-confident and pull so the attention. But as good the first impression may be, it doesn’t lake long, and the narcissist unmasks himself as an egomaniac. With their self-indulgence and self-centeredness, they strain our nerves with their airs and graces. Most of the elaborate packaging is not worth the content, but it is away deceived vehemently. But the beautiful appearance is deceptive, and the facade collapses, all just for show. As long as can be found a few admirers, it proceeds. They certainly have their short-term entertainment value. Unfortunately, many deceived, so it is possible to get into positions where they can cause some damage to some narcissists.




Impaired self-esteem


The exaggerated desire for recognition and admiration caused by an impaired self-esteem. For such an ego, every stage is too small for that they could be shared . Where other people anyway have only one value ; as an admirer ! So renounce narcissists on empathy, and can be enjoyed on any form of feedback that is not understood as recognition.

It can be seen a great advantage such contemporaries early and a wide berth to make them. Now, it may be that a situation of you calls to communicate with a narcissist . Therefore, now here are some recommendations that sometimes save a few gray hairs.




Tips for communicating with narcissists


  • Be well-prepared and listen very carefully.
  • Expect a low frustration tolerance.
  • Be very specific with what you want.
  • Keep the focus. Do not be distracted by all the red herrings .
  • Be aware of what your narcissistic interlocutor wants to achieve.
  • Talk to the ego. The problematic ego can be used to redirect them.
  • Ask little, expect little.
  • Look for a good own state. While this does not improve the conversation, however, reduces your risk of massive attacks. So possible smile and show a lot of patience, without making concessions involuntarily.
  • In black and white, post all the essentials, so that they can use the protocols as needed. Narcissists are often very good to twist it subsequently things. Confirm agreements in writing or confirm themselves in writing.
  • Victimization: Narcissists are never to blame if something goes wrong. They are more or less creative, why others are to blame for something. Do let you be manipulated by it.
  • Most important recommendation: Let it when it does not have to be! The otherwise commendable human desire to communicate in search for an improvement has little chance of success when the other one is a narcissist.

Help in dealing with narcissists (no legal advice!)


It's urgent? Thanks to an immediate bank transfer, it is also possible to organize sessions at short notice, often even on the same day. In any case, you can orient yourself by reading the list with fees. Typically, a telephone call of 60 minutes is enough. Either you come to me in Berlin or we organize a telephone meeting or use the Internet with a video conferencing system. If you wish professional support for your decision-making, communication, or because you suffer emotionally from narcissists, then we can arrange an appointment.

As much as I would like to - with the large number of requests I receive, I keep the amount of volunteer help at a feasible level.

If you want professional support (in the areas I offer and this does not include any legal advice), then we can make an appointment. Either you come to me in Berlin or we make a telephone session or use the Internet with video support. This has proven to be very successful. Thanks to a real-time bank transfer, it is also possible to book appointments at short notice. We can make an appointment first or even easier and faster; you book your session and as soon as the fee is received, we find the next available appointment.

If it is about the psychological effects, I offer therapeutic help for people suffering from narcissists and coaching for other issues. You can find the fees here. Please note the reduced fees for therapeutic assistance for people suffering from narcissistic abuse.

Not all sufferers have the financial means to do this, I know. You can then at least use the comment function to exchange information with other sufferers. Sometimes I also answer questions there, occasionally even beyond that. I am aware of the suffering that can result from contact with narcissists. However, the day has only 24h, and therefore I ask for an understanding of my procedures. I am aware of the suffering that often results from contact with narcissists. That is why I offer a free telephone consultation every first Monday of the month from 9:00 to 12:00 for initial impulses. Please use exclusively the telephone number +49 (0)30 864 213 65 for this purpose. Calls outside these hours and on other telephone numbers exclusively in the context of the professional support mentioned.

So: Questions that may also interest other people, please ask in the comments. Some topics are of a more private nature and I offer professional support for them. Let's have a direct conversation about this. If you are interested in support, for organizational questions and appointments you can reach me personally best by e-mail (mail@karstennoack.de), conditionally also by phone +49 (0)30 864 213 65., mobile +49 (0)30 864 213 65.




What lessons have you learned about narcissists?


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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: June 21, 2001
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: August 14, 2019
Translation: ./.
German version: 

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