It is not easy to detect a masked narcissist.
Well, for one, he or she is masked.
Jokes apart, masked narcissists are all around you and some of them may not even know that they are one of them.
There are subtle signals of narcissism in their talk and behavior.
Here are one example:
Your friend tells you –
“That was a good piece of work. I don’t know how many people will notice it but it was very clear to me that you have something good going there. One has to pay a lot of attention to discover the gem you have created. A keen eye for design is a MUST and I am so glad that I was able to almost instantly get the essence of what you have created.”
When you hear a praise like that, you have a mixed feeling. You know that you heard a praise – the question is did he or she praise you or praise themselves for praising you?
You may not notice this but your body surely will. If what they say don’t lift you and get you energized, you know you have encountered a masked narcissist.
Now, the art of dealing with a masked narcissist
The very first step is to notice that you have encountered one of them. Without that, there is no question of dealing with them.
Once you identify a masked narcissist, think about your previous encounters with them. Is this a one-time occurrence or is there a trend there? If there is a trend, ask yourself, do you want to deal with that person for the rest of your life? It’s an important question because EVERYTHING will be about them for the rest of your lives together.
If you decide that it’s not a trend, then there is a good chance that the person is blind to being a masked narcissist. All you have to do is bring that to notice.
You can say something like this –
“Thanks a ton for your praise. I am glad you noticed it. Some feedback for you because I care – your praise did not come across as a praise to me but mostly as a praise to yourself because you showered a praise on me. I am sure you didn’t mean it that way but I am saying it because that’s how it came across to me on the receiving end. As a friend, I thought it is my duty to share this with you.”
But, please don’t make a big deal about it as you would have already embarrassed them a bit with your observation. Switch over to another topic and move on. It will take them a while to digest this but for sure they will catch themselves next time they engage in such behavior.
Note: If YOU are a masked narcissist, then you know what to do 🙂
Hat Tip: My friend Arun for helping me think through this.