A constant need for validation. A willingness to control people. A ruthlessness in getting their needs met. These are just some of the psychological traits that point towards a narcissistic personality disorder. Disturbingly, they are also common among people who succeed in business — and it usually isn't a coincidence. Here are 15 signs of narcissism combed from psychology literature that you really don't want to encounter in a boss or co-worker.
They enjoy leading others and telling them what to do
Narcissists typically enjoy leadership positions since they are able to dominate others and fulfil their need for constant positive reinforcement.
They hate having to feel emotions
"The very fact of having a feeling in the presence of another person suggests you can be touched emotionally by friends, family, partners, and even the occasional tragedy or failure," explains Harvard Medical School psychologist Craig Malkin. This is why narcissists abhor them.
Feeling an emotion “challenges their sense of perfect autonomy,” he continues. “To admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can be affected by someone or something outside of them.”
As a result, narcissists tend to change the topic of conversation when feelings come up — especially their own.
They are likely to be young and male
After 34,653 face-to-face interviews, psychologist Frederick Stinson found that men tend to be more narcissistic than women across their lifespans.
Narcissism is believed to peak during adolescence and decline with age.
They are regarded as attractive and dress better than other people
Narcissists are generally rated as more stylish and physically attractive, according to a study conducted by Simine Vazire, a psychologist at Washington University.
They enjoy swearing at people
Psychologists Nicholas Holtzman and Michael Strube from Washington University in St. Louis found in a study that subjects who scored higher in narcissism are argumentative and curse more than their modest counterparts. They also tend to use more sexually explicit language.
Instead of listening, they just wait to speak
Anita Vangelisti, a psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin found that narcissists typically prefer to keep the conversation centered around themselves “making exaggerated hand movements, talking loudly, and showing disinterest by ‘glazing over’ when others speak.”
They cheat in relationships
Psychologists Joshua Foster at the University of South Alabama and W. Keith Campbell at the University of Georgia found that narcissists are more likely to cheat once they think their partners are committed.
They also seem to get a rush out of convincing others to engage in promiscuous sexual acts that they normally do not participate in.
Romantic partners leave after about four months of dating
Through his research, Campbell found that the four-month mark — the apparent satisfaction peak in any dating relationship — is typically how long it takes for someone dating a narcissist to see their true colours.
They put some people on pedestals
Malkin says the logic goes like this: “If I find someone perfect to be close to, maybe some of their perfection will rub off on me, and I’ll become perfect by association.” With that ideal in mind, narcissists cozy up to people they find perfect — be it a colleague or a crush — and then get really disappointed when that person isn’t as impeccable as they imagined.
Because for a narcissist, everything has to be perfect.
They put other people down
Narcissistic people intentionally put down others in order to maintain a high positive image of themselves.
“Seeking admiration is like a drug for narcissists,” said Mitja D. Back, a psychologist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. “In the long run it becomes difficult because others won’t applaud them, so they always have to search for new acquaintances from whom they get the next fix.”
This also explains why narcissists typically maintain only weak relationships.
Their parents ignored and adored them
According to Sigmund Freud, a combination of parental rejection and excessive admiration is more strongly linked to adult narcissism than if one childhood experience consistently existed without the other.
The inconsistency and whiplash of the parent’s attitude towards their children will eventually cause for a “deep craving for admiration” and lead the narcissistic to lead a life searching for fleeting ego boosts.
They choose friends to look cool or take advantage of people
Narcissistic men and women have different ways of choosing friends.
Women choose male friends with high social status so they can feel a sense of worthiness. Dudes choose bros who can “wingman” for them when they’re trying to pick up girls.
If you’re not grandiose, then you’re introverted, hypersensitive, defensive, and anxious. Psychologists talk about the “two faces of narcissism.” On one end there’s the hyper-aggressive, super-loud Donald Trump type. But there’s a softer form of narcissism, too. It’s called “covert narcissism,” which is denoted by introversion, hypersensitivity, defensiveness, and anxiety.
“Both shades of narcissism shared a common core of conceit, arrogance, and the tendency to give in to one’s own needs and disregard others,” Scientific American reports.
They always have to be in control
Just as narcissists hate to talk about their feelings, “they can’t stand to be at the mercy of other people’s preferences,” Malkin says. “It reminds them that they aren’t invulnerable or completely independent — that, in fact, they might have to ask for what they want — and even worse, people may not feel like meeting the request.”
This is why they can be controlling without getting angry. In the case of romantic relationships, narcissists control people with disapproving glances, calls to change plans, and chronic lateness. This allows narcissists to undermine other people’s ability to make choices. By doing that, narcissists maintain their sense of total autonomy — which they so desperately need.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.