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Why Arrogant People Are Actually Mentally Unhealthy

Why Arrogant People Are Actually Mentally Unhealthy

Don’t you just hate it when someone acts like they are far superior to you?

I’m sure you know what I mean. You may have just met them casually at a party, and within minutes they’re telling you how successful they are, why they are so important, and why they know everything about everything!

People like this can make you feel small and worthless.

But wait. Why should you suffer at the hands of a megalomaniac?[1] As we’ll see, they are the ones with a problem – not you.

Look how important I am!

A person suffering from delusions of grandeur will believe they possess superior qualities to the average person.[2] In many cases, they will falsely claim that they are famous, wealthy or even geniuses. Because they have convinced themselves that they do indeed possess these qualities or traits, they can be extremely persuasive when speaking with other people.

It’s estimated that 1% of the population suffers from megalomania[3] (also known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder), so it’s inevitable that you’ll regularly meet such people.

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If you don’t know how to deal with arrogant individuals, you may find your self-esteem takes a knock each time you interact with them. It may be something as simple as queuing for a train ticket…. Mr. Arrogant deliberately pushes into the queue, and dares you to challenge his actions. Not wanting to cause a scene, you let him get away with treating you as someone unimportant and inferior.

You feel weak. Yet, they instantly boost their already exaggerated sense of self-worth.

Of course, I’m not overestimating my status in life.

Delusions of grandeur is associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This is a mental health diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.[4]

As we’ve already seen, people suffering from NPD are likely to massively overestimate their importance and uniqueness. This can lead to them becoming aloof and almost impossible to deal with. They always think they know best, and they expect to get their way every time.

Were megalomaniacs born this way? According to John M. Grohol, Psy.D., individuals typically experience NPD as a symptom of other mental health illnesses, such as: bipolar disorder, dementia, psychotic disorder and schizophrenia.[5] Grohol also states that drug use or abuse can trigger NPD, or may intensify or bring on more episodes of delusions of grandeur.

How dare you accuse me of being a fraud?!

I’ve revealed some of the reasons why arrogant people act like they do.

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Now, let’s go a step further and look at ways to identify arrogant people who are clearly suffering from NPD.

Delusional individuals believe what they say, so on the surface, they are supremely convincing. However, if you analyze their claims in a logical and scientific way, you’ll have a good chance of exposing their falsities and lies.

Any of the below claims should set alarm bells ringing in your mind:

  • “I’m a famous celebrity.”
  • “I’m the CEO of a multinational corporation.”
  • “I’m a famous inventor.”
  • “I’m a professional athlete.”
  • “I’m a member of a royal family.”
  • “I’m in direct communication with God.”
  • “I’m blessed with superpowers.”

To be fair, any of the above could be true of the person you have just met. But what’s the likelihood? Statistically, there’s much more chance of meeting a NPD sufferer who claims to be one of the above, than meeting someone who actually is one of the above.

To find the truth, probe the person with questions. For example: Tell me more about your company? Where can I read more about your inventions? Can you demonstrate your superpowers?

If you ask the right questions, you’ll have a strong chance of determining if the person is really who they say they are.

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If you’re still unsure, see whether any of these five traits are demonstrated by the person:

  1. Identity. “Surely, you know who I am?”
  2. Knowledge. “I definitely know more about this subject than you do.”
  3. Power. “You need to do as I say.”
  4. Self-worth. “Don’t waste my time. I have much more important things to do.”
  5. Relationship. “It’s hard dealing with all the attention that comes with being George Clooney’s brother.”

Why are you getting in my way?

If you’ve successfully identified a megalomaniac, then you’ll need to call upon some proven techniques for dealing with this person.

Here are seven ways for you to effectively deal with people suffering from delusions of grandeur:

1. Avoid at all possible.

Once you’re aware that you’re dealing with a NPD sufferer, then the best advice is to stay clear of them. The alternative is to be dragged into their make-believe world, where they reign supreme over others – including you!

2. Remain positive.

When subject to demeaning comments from an arrogant individual, you must stay positive. They thrive on your pain and stress, so by staying positive, you’ll defeat their aims.

3. Keep on track.

Don’t let an arrogant person knock your confidence and shatter your dreams. Be above their remarks, and stay firmly on track towards your personal goals.

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4. Retain your sense of humor.

Condescending and negative behavior towards you can make you feel miserable. Don’t let this happen. Remember they are the ones with a problem. Keep your sense of humor, and keep on winning!

5. Know yourself.

One of your best defences against an arrogant and patronizing person is to develop a strong sense of self. By doing this, belittling and degrading comments will bounce of you. Your inner core will be more than a match for even the most arrogant and insulting individuals whom you may come across.

6. Ask them this question: “What will people think?”

NPD sufferers don’t feel guilty, but they do feel shame. At all times, they want to maintain their appearance of authority and importance. If you ask them: “What will people think?” they may change their behavior to protect their reputation.

7. Seek help for the person.

Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate for you to seek professional help for a person suffering from delusions of grandeur. You may be able to introduce them to a psychotherapist, who is trained to help people suffering from mental illnesses. Your introduction could be done anonymously, by leaving a therapist’s card on their desk (for example).

Once you realize that arrogant people are mentally unhealthy, you’ll immediately feel more confident about dealing with them. Often their hurtful remarks are simply a sign of their own lack of self-esteem.

It’s critically important to prevent these individuals from negatively impacting your life and well-being. Stay above their level, and stay free and happy!

Reference

[1] Right Diagnosis: Megalomania
[2] Psy Central: Delusion of Grandeur
[3] Financial Times: When Narcissism Becomes Pathological
[4] Wikipedia: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
[5] PsychCentral: Delusion of Grandeur

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Craig J Todd

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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