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What Is A Conversational Narcissist? 9 Identifying Signs and How To Cope


Do you know someone who always talks about themselves? Who never let others speak and hog the spotlight in every conversation? These types of people are known as conversational narcissists and can be hard to deal with.

What Is A Conversational Narcissist?

Conversational narcissism refers to the trait of making every conversation about yourself. A decent conversation involves balance with both people adding their views and opinions and expressing themselves equally.

However, when you are talking to a conversational narcissist, the entire focus of the conversation will revolve around them. They are so habituated with this behavior that they are often unaware of it or may simply don’t care.

Author and therapist Wendy Behary, LCSW explainsConversational narcissists don’t necessarily meet the criteria for a formal diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). They’re usually somewhere on the spectrum, though.

In his book  The Pursuit of Attention: Power and Ego in Everyday Life, American sociologist and author Charles Derber explains that these individuals have a strong tendency to dominate conversations as they want to focus on themselves.

Not only are they unable to stop talking, but they also need too much attention and want to tell others how amazing they are. On the other hand, they might also talk about their problems and may nag for the entire length of the conversation. Dr. Derber writes that conversational narcissism is “the key manifestation of attention-getting psychology in America,” and that it occurs mostly in “informal conversations among friends, family, and co-workers.”

Related: How and Why Narcissists Try to Destroy You With Circular Conversations

A conversational narcissist may steal the spotlight during a conversation in the following ways:

  1. They will talk before others to take charge of the conversation, no matter what the topic or subject is
  2. They will constantly keep talking about themselves and make sure you don’t get any chance to squeeze in a word
  3. They will repeatedly interrupt other speakers and change the subject to themselves 
  4. They will never react, validate or support your opinions so that you stop speaking, unless you talk about them

Identifying A Conversational Narcissist

If you are having trouble spotting them, then here are a few common signs of conversational narcissism that will help you point out the person who talks about themselves all the time:

  1. The conversations are never interactive, they are always like a one-sided, unending monologue.
  2. They have an heightened sense of self-importance.
  3. They will interrupt you mid-sentence to bring the focus back on themselves, even if you’re saying something important. They always have a better story to tell.
  4. They talk continuously and are unable to stop. In fact, the conversations can be so long that it may feel like a lecture.
  5. They tend to exaggerate the value of their own accomplishments 
  6. They constantly seek respect, appreciation, admiration, approval and validation from others.
  7. They are not focused on building connections with others or engaging with the listener.
  8. They often have unrealistic expectations from the listener and believe that others must respect their opinions without hesitation. They may even criticize others’ opinions.
  9. They are often self-absorbed and fantasize about beauty, success or power.

Related: Signs of Narcissism

How To Cope With A Conversational Narcissist

If there is someone in your life who always talks about themselves, and if you can’t avoid them, then there are some strategies that can help you respond better to them. Here are a few ways that can help you to deal with conversational narcissism:

1. Listen, but stop the conversation when you need to

If you have a friend, family member, coworker, or a boss who talks only about themselves, then you might have to listen to them even if you don’t really want to. However, when you listen to them try to identify what their actual need is.

Do they want admiration or appreciation? Or do they want to boost their ego? Once you realize this, interrupt them and tell them something simple yet positive about them. But it is likely that they might want to continue their monologue or change the topic to something else. That’s when you need to stop the conversation, especially when it continues for too long.

Psychotherapist and author F. Diane Barth, L.C.S.W., writesIt’s really not damaging to tell someone who you’ve been listening to for more time than you have to spare (and more than you want to give away) that you’re really sorry, but you have work you have to do and you’ll have to continue this conversation later.

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Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts