What does it mean to be glib? It means to be rather “smooth-talking” and smooth operating. The words flow from glib characters in a seemingly casual, easy way. They appear to have both a way with words and a gift for gab. And their manner of operating interpersonally is just as smooth. Glib characters can be charming and seductive. All this is nice, up to a point. But if you have a solid sense of self, your “internal radar” should signal that something isn’t quite right. Your gut might tell us the person might not be as truly likeable as they attempt to come across. And it should sense a fairly shallow nature to their manner. You we might find yourself musing: “What’s he/she up to?, What’s their angle?” (See also: Sometimes Charm Should Sound An Alarm.)
Sadly, we sometimes just don’t trust our gut. And that’s generally because we lack a solid sense of ourselves and our worth. Folks well-developed in their own character more easily detect a glib person’s superficiality. And they trust their intuition well enough heed concerns about someone’s apparent lack of sincerity and genuineness. They might intuitively sense possible danger, too. The seemingly calculating nature of the glib character troubles them. And they intuitively sense that because you can’t know what the smooth operator is really up to, anything is possible.
To be smug is to be overly self-satisfied. It’s one thing to be proud of yourself or your accomplishments. But it’s quite another thing to be so calmly self-assured that you find no need for self-improvement.
Smug characters don’t just like the way they operate in the world. They’re completely enamored of the success they perceive they’ve had operating the way they do. Sometimes their self-satisfaction is warranted to a degree. But other times it most assuredly is not. But whatever the case, smugness is a matter of pathological pride – excessive self-satisfaction. And it’s characteristic of those disturbed characters who know just how impaired their character is, but who are more than happy with the person they are.
Smug folks have a characteristic demeanor that suggests that they feel more than confident. Their demeanor also suggests that they feel more than a bit superior. Smugness is a sign that the person just knows how much better they are, and isn’t at all ashamed to broadcast the fact.
Minding the Signs
Both smugness and glibness are red flags for the more serious types of narcissism. And while neither of these characteristics are definitive signs, society’s most dangerous predators have these characteristics often enough that you should beware whenever you witness these features of a person’s modus operandi.
When Someone Is Both Smug and Glib
Nature’s only known intra-species predators, psychopaths, are notorious for being both smug and glib. Psychopaths have a chilling sense of being superior to us lower creatures. You know – creatures with qualms, principles, … consciences! Conscientious folks hesitate to do the unthinkable, whereas these malignant narcissists don’t. And in their minds, that makes us inferior, and, therefore, rightful prey. No empathy. Cold heart. We’re like the ants to them. We can be stepped on and discarded without a second thought.
It’s important to be wary of someone’s glibness and/or smugness. While not definitive signs, they are nonetheless significant red flags. And as I say in my books In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance, pay attention to your intuition. If someone’s smoothness and satisfaction with themselves unnerves you, protect yourself, and beware! And if someone is trying to “worm their way” into your lifespace or you heart, be sure their character is such that they deserve being there!
It’s important to realize how vast and complex the narcissism spectrum is (see: Narcissism Spectrum), especially in our times. A culture steeped in egocentricity and entitlement fosters a lot of narcissism, including the more malignant types. And while all narcissists are problem characters, the smug and glib ones can be particularly dangerous. Their sense of superiority and entitlement can, in fact, be lethal.
I begin a new series on this topic on this week’s installment of Character Matters.