Do you have someone in your life who is self-absorbed and expects you to make them the center of your world? Are you wondering if they’re a narcissist? These three simple questions can help you answer that question.
If you don’t know someone very well, it can be difficult to identify their true character. Narcissists can also be very charming when you’re first getting to know them. In fact, they can seem like the perfect friend, employee or lover at first.
Later, their true colors can come shining through and leave you feeling used and abused. If you’ve hired them as an employee that can be really problematic for your business. If you’ve integrated them into your personal life, it can be hard to get yourself out of that relationship.
It’s helpful if you can gain some insight before you let someone into your professional or personal life, and you really want to weed out those people who are narcissists. How do you distinguish between healthy self-esteem and genuine narcissism?
What’s the Difference Between Healthy Self-Esteem and Narcissism?
This is where it can get tricky in the early stages of any relationship. Narcissism can masquerade as healthy self-esteem, so how can you tell?
People with a healthy self-esteem certainly believe themselves to be worthy and competent, and they want to make meaningful, intimate connections with other people. This is how the narcissist can appear as well.
The difference is that healthy people don’t see themselves as being superior to other people, and the narcissist does. Because they believe themselves to be superior and are externally validated as such, the narcissist has difficulty admitting mistakes and will strive to manipulate the situation to avoid being seen as a mere mortal. Okay, but how can you know?
Ask Three Simple Questions
These three simple questions will help you identify whether someone is a narcissist. They can be asked in a variety of ways and settings, but they were initially designed for interviewing potential employees. The goal was to identify empathy in the job candidate, and these questions give them the opportunity to open up about themselves in a way that will reveal what they think about the world and how they approach solving problems.
1. What’s a Personal Opinion You’ve Held and Changed in the Past Year?
This question will let you know if someone is humble or not. It tells you if they are willing to admit that they were wrong about something and whether, after receiving new information or insight, they are willing to change their mind about something.
This can also help you understand how willing a person is to learn from other people. That can help you understand if they would be a team player in a workplace or if they would be a collaborative friend or romantic partner.
This makes an excellent interview question, but it can also be asked in a casual setting like a date or a conversation among friends and acquaintances. The narcissist won’t want to admit they were ever wrong about any opinion they held. That would make them look inferior in their mind.
2. What’s the Best (or Worst) Advice You’ve Ever Received?
This question helps you understand how introspective a person is, as well as how willing they are to adapt, change and grow over time. First, you discover if they are someone who is willing to ask for advice — a trait many narcissists are loath to do since they believe themselves to be superior.
Second, this question allows you to understand how the person processes the information they gather and apply it to their own life. Do they make use of good advice, and are they able to discern bad advice? Who do they blame for the outcome and how do they adapt?
Once again, the narcissist won’t want to admit that they needed the advice of other people. If they received bad advice from someone, however, they won’t hesitate to blame that person for the outcome of having followed their advice. The narcissist will use that to absolve themself of personal responsibility for the consequences of following the erroneous advice.
3. Tell Me About a Time When Luck Played a Significant Role in Your Life.
For a narcissist, luck has no role in their life. It’s all about their superior abilities, and they are not afraid to talk about that. It’s part of how they manipulate the situation to look and feel good about themselves.
Admitting that luck played a role would be like admitting they are not in control of their life, and for a narcissist, that’s a scary thing to admit. This question also lets you see whether or not someone has humility and can admit when they have benefited from privilege, something the narcissist will be unable to do.
The narcissist will find it extremely difficult to answer any of these three questions because each involves admitting at least some dependence on other people and/or an error in their own thinking. Narcissists believe themselves to be superior, and therefore, they have difficulty in admitting they need advice from others or that they could have been wrong in their judgment of a situation.
They also don’t want to admit to the role luck might play in their life since that implies something out of their control could affect their life. That’s why asking these simple questions is another one of several intelligent ways you can deal with narcissism. If you ask these questions and can’t get a good answer, that’s a big, red flag you’re dealing with a narcissist.
You can also spot a narcissist by knowing more about their characteristics. To learn more, check out the article, “7 Characteristics of a Narcissistic Person.”
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