Vulgar narcissists are a different breed for sure. All narcissists share certain core characteristics. But some can be a lot more “charming” than others. Charmers know just what to say and what to do to look good and curry favor. Their manipulation skill makes them more dangerous in a way. They want you to like them. That make it easier for them to take advantage. (See also: Charming Narcissists Manipulate Well.)
On the other hand, vulgar narcissists simply don’t care. They’re all about themselves and out for themselves. Nothing else matters and no one else matters. So, they say things and do things without compunction. Concern for others or the impact on others doesn’t hold them back. They speak first and maybe think about it later. And they act first, and possibly (but certainly not always) regret it later. But just don’t have enough human regard to mind what they say or do in the moment. These narcissists upset us more easily. Their boorishness and easy brutality naturally offend.
What Matters to Narcissists
Narcissists mostly want to revel in feelings of superiority. The more “neurotic,” compensatory, or “vulnerable” types inwardly feel inferior are always trying to prove something. But the more character disturbed or “grandiose” types believe they have nothing to prove. In fact, they’re completely convinced of their greatness. It may seem they want you to see their greatness and adulate them. But they actually want more than that. What matters most to them is your deference. Kneel, and you will be in good graces. Refuse, or call out any fault, and you can expect an attack.
Confronting Vulgar Narcissism
Like it or not, we sometimes have to deal with vulgar narcissists. And because they don’t care, we might wonder what good it does to confront them. The answer here lies in the good that can come from outing the truth. Moreover, there are many different ways to confront ugly realities. If we go into it thinking our confrontation will necessarily change the other person, we’re bound to be disappointed. But if we confront purely for truth’s sake, good will necessarily follow. We speak truth for our own benefit and that of others. Denying, running from, or hiding the truth always injures. But speaking and dealing in the truth always paves a constructive path.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve been afforded many platforms to speak to the truth of the vulgar narcissism currently on such outrageous display. And, because of my commitment to certain ethics and to civility, I have taken great care with my words. But in such care I have, perhaps, forsaken just a bit of my obligation to squarely confront and speak the truth. That will change, however, as my weekly broadcast Character Matters takes a new direction. I hope you’ll tune in. And I welcome all to the conversation we so desperately need to have.
Again, my sincerest thanks for endorsing and recommending my books. And look soon for announcements on new workshops and the release of a new book.