Smugness and Glibness are Major Red Flags

The Red flags of Smugness and Glibness

Smugness and glibness are red flags for the most serious types of character pathology. In fact, they’re the traits most common to society’s most dangerous predators. So, it’s worth understanding these personality characteristics in greater depth. And it’s also helpful to understand why you should be very wary of anyone who displays them.

The Nature of Smugness

Smugness can is primarily defined as excessive pride in oneself or excessive self-satisfaction. Smug folks have a characteristic demeanor that suggests they feel more than confident. And it also suggests 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 show it.

It’s important to realize how vast and complex the narcissism spectrum is. (See: Narcissism Spectrum.) That’s especially true in our times, when a culture steeped in egocentricity and entitlement fosters so much narcissism. I’ve written before on the major varieties of narcissism, including the more malignant types. And while all narcissists are problem characters, the smug ones can be particularly dangerous. Their sense of superiority and entitlement can, in fact, be lethal. And that’s even more true when besides being smug, they are also glib (see section below).


Some folks have the ability to come across in a smooth, confident way. They often have a way with words and a gift for gab. “Smooth,” perhaps too smooth, is how many describe such folks. (This is the “slick” salesperson type). Glib folks are often the most shallow of characters. But they can display remarkable interpersonal facility. They seem at ease in any situation, confident that they can sway and charm. See also: Sometimes Charm Should Sound An Alarm.) Folks well-developed in their own character might sense the superficiality of this, however. They intuitively sense a lack of sincerity and genuineness. And they intuitively sense possible danger, too. But folks not all that secure with themselves or who are to some extent naive might well be taken in.

Glibness and Smugness Together

Neither glibness nor smugness are definitive signs of severe character pathology. But 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! We hesitate to do the unthinkable. They don’t. No empathy. Cold heart. And they see us as inherently inferior, and therefore, rightful prey. 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 stay away!

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14 thoughts on “Smugness and Glibness are Major Red Flags

  1. Good information, as always George. Wish I learned this when I was younger but good to know now. Information is power! Thanks for writing.

  2. Good tips to remember. Its helps to have some red flag signs. Those of us who have been around them never want to be again and don’t want to be fooled again.

  3. A guy I dated VERY briefly got in my car at the time (a high end sports car) and sat in the back seat with this smug, self-satisfied look on his face. It struck me as really odd. I think many of them think your possessions/characteristics are a positive reflection on them. Or your possessions are their possessions. Smugness in any form is a big red flag to me.

    1. From my reading, the narc will choose a person who “legitimizes” them in the eyes of others. Like picking an empath who is a decent person with decent values to make them look like a decent person.

      1. Makes sense and lines up with my experiences. I’ve used the term beard in the past for the people who do that. Particularly the ones who choose decent people/honest people/kind people to make them, by association, look decent/honest/kind or whatever.

    2. My now ex-husband fits the description of glib and smug to a ‘T.’

      If he heard someone didn’t have a good impression of him (as Dr. Simon described, intuition), he would race over to that person and very eagerly engage them, flattering, gifting, whatever works until that person dropped their guard and accepted him. On one occasion when I witnessed this bizarre behavior, he came back over to me with this smug smile and said, “There I fixed it, he’s now my biggest fan.”

      I used to think that under the overly confident, somewhat arrogant exterior was someone insecure with almost a pathological need to be liked, to be socially accepted. Awww, poor Paul. What I realize now was this was the behavior of a predator, a wolf in sheep’s clothing that couldn’t stand for someone to see or sense his wolfiness.

      I learned that showing your reserve, demonstrating guardiness, is a challenge to the predatory among us. Not only do they not want to be seen but I felt he enjoyed the challenge of manipulating this person’s mind. He felt smug and superior for being able to do so.

      I probably fit the definition of Empath, although, I’m uncomfortable with the woo woo label. It was one of the things I found attractive and comfortable with my ex-husband, that I couldn’t feel his emotions, read him so I didn’t feel drained being with him. And I truly enjoyed feeling normal by having to ask what he was thinking and feeling. I have always needed to be careful around people, since I feel their emotions so strongly I have to watch that I don’t comment about them as it makes people uncomfortable. I’ve found. So probably empath.

      Anyway, it took a long time for me to realize that when he couldn’t drop someone’s reserve with him, he would trot me out. Of course, it didn’t look like that, he’d say, “Come to dinner, I want you to meet this really great person, or my boss, or whomever.”

      Then he would encourage a one on one discussion between me and the target. The reserve would get dropped and the person would either say to me or I’d overhear the person talking to my ex with something like, “I wasn’t really sure of him/you, but meeting you/your wife, it all makes sense now! He’s/You’re a great person!” I could hear and feel the sense of relief experienced by the target but while I found it disturbing, I didn’t understand what was happening. And of course, when I asked my ex about it, he just fobbed me off with a non explanation and would get angry and frustrated if I ‘pushed’ with my suspicion he used me to drop someone’s reserve. “Why are you trying to ruin this for me,” he’d say and so I dropped it to maintain the peace but I never lost the feeling that I was being used as a beard to cover up for something.

  4. Thanks to you, Dr. Simon and your readers who comment. This blog has been so helpful to me and continues to be helpful.

    Been reading more of the Word of God lately and I can’t stress how necessary it is for us to be plugged into God’s Word on a daily basis, if we can manage it.

    So many abusers in this world. And even more flying monkeys, so eager to take up for the abusers, too.

    1. Anonymous,

      I am glad you have been in the Word, never let it go as it will be your salvation.

      The Lord said he would never leave us or forsake us, His word is truth, comfort, a promise and above all the revelation of a world to come.

      Take care and God Bless

  5. Dr. Simon,

    “Psychopaths have a chilling sense of being superior to us lower creatures. You, know, creatures with qualms, principles, … consciences! We hesitate to do the unthinkable. They don’t. No empathy. Cold heart. And they see us as inherently inferior, and therefore, rightful prey. We’re like the ants to them. We can be stepped on and discarded without a second thought.”

    This is spot on! Once I finally realized my ex-husband was a non violent, successful psychopath, I would have discussions with him regarding empathy and conscience. (If I only knew then what I know now, don’t play with the psychopath.) The discussions actually originated out of a defense for my differences, that those differences didn’t make me weak but instead strong.

    He said to me once, with his voice full of contempt and scorn and his face twisted with disgust, “Why would I want to have a pathetic weakness like that? So I’m filled with self doubt like the rest of you? I don’t have self doubt.”

    The fact that we have empathy, have a conscience makes them superior to us in their minds and makes us suitable prey. They will certainly use our gifts of empathy, of conscience as resources, as tools but we are pathetically weak to them because of it and therefore deserve to be used, abused, mistreated, in short, preyed upon.

    My experience has taught me to be grateful that I have a conscience. We tend to think of the conscience as a negative since it is usually telling us to do things we’d rather not but I’ve come to appreciate that nagging little voice as a completely positive. I’m grateful everyday that I have a conscience and will never ever take it for granted.

    1. Charlie,

      Interesting comment and analogy of the psychos mind processes. Yes, they do look at us as lower creatures but at the same time we are elevated as objects of hate and envy and knowingly in their sub conscience and conscious level they will and cannot ever achieve or own. Our “so called” inferiorities which they despise in us are the vary traits so to speak they lack and I do believe they are are aware of these disparities within themselves at a conscious and subconsciouslevel. I have found to never underestimate the psycho but when we truly understand the dynamics we can have the upper hand, bearing in mind we never sink to their level.

      We as empaths and especially wounded empaths have which I like to refer to as blind spots, especially when we have been abused and do not in this society have positive reinforcement on familial, ethical and moral behaviors. In essence I am say the victim is now the perpetrator and the perp the victim in this society. We are lead in so many venues of life that WE are the problem rather than the Charactered Disordered in society. And to add, an odd perversity in wanting to understand and help these perverse individuals that rebuke any form of humanity.

      The contempt to your so called weakness was a witness and outright inability of your X to care and feel for others and give of his self absorbed self. Your so called weaknesses is what the psycho loath the most as they are incapable of attaining these gifts for themselves, therefore, in their rebellion the only attributes they are capable of are jealously, envy and hatred for whomever possesses that which they refuse to gain on their own merit.

      Just remember, he is the Sheep in Wolves Clothing, in time their true colors will come out as they “Eat Their Own.”

      I am so glad to hear you are well and have found your way.

      It is so true “I’m grateful everyday that I have a conscience and will never ever take it for granted.” The tears welled up in my eyes as I read these words. So very true and so humbly said.

      Hugs, Gods Blessings and much happiness in the future

      1. Hi, BTOV,

        Thanks for the response, having a conscience is something no one should take for granted for sure.

        From my experience, I would caution against assigning strong emotions to the psycopathic. I think if one is dealing with strong emotions of hate, envy, jealousy, loathing one is probably dealing with a narcissistic personality. Do you loath, hate, envy the ants? Nope, you just feel contempt for their invasion and get out the bug spray.

        I’ve found the emotional reservoir of the psycopath to be pretty shallow and short lived. While they can get really angry, really rageful, their emotions are like a flash over. Here one second, gone the next, and like nothing ever happened. My ex-husband told me several times he just pretends to be mad. I believe that. The emotional flash is a manipulation tactic to create fear and trepidation. No more, no less, and back to ‘normal.’ The radical emotional shifts are just another form of gaslighting and quite effective at rattling one’s sense of well being. My ex husband used to brag he had the emotions of a robot. I think that was a truthful statement as well.

        Narcisstic individuals may loath us for our empathy, our gifts but psycopaths just see us as prey, tools to be used or ants to be stepped on as they see fit. And anything we have, any gains they will just take from us as the rightful, superior being. Our main use for them is that we are the sheep clothing the wolf uses to for camouflage but they will take anything we can provide or produce. We are the worker bees, they are the drones but the drones rule the hive, the drones kick out the worker bees when they are no longer of any use. In the way of the psychopath, lots of worker bees out there to be had.

        I’ve found that to assign any normal emotions or normal human characteristics is dangerous and risky. They are ‘other.’ It’s not my intention to dehumanize them but to mistake them as ‘human’ is to give them the ability to prey on us. There is a reason they work so hard to blend in, to appear normal, to hide what they really are from us.

        One of the ways they blend is ‘playing the victim.’ While this is definitely a manipulative strategy, I think it’s more often used as impression management. I also think it’s super entertaining for them to garner all the support, loyalty, turn the tables on their target while messing with the minds of others. My ex husband told me that messing with people’s minds was easy and fun because people are so suggestable. He said it’s fun to watch them dance. One of his favorite things to do was hum a repetitive tune within earshot but outside of a person’s awareness so they developed as ear worm. When they would exclaim with frustration that they couldn’t get the tune out of their head he would come home, brag to me, and giggle in joy.

        Funny thing, once I realized what he was, made him aware I knew what he was, he seemed to enjoy being able to ‘share’ his little exploits. I don’t know if he just enjoyed being able to have someone to brag to or if I didn’t cover my shock and horror well enough and so added another level of enjoyment.

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