The Key to Spotting Hidden Narcissists

07/27/2015 05:20 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Recently, I sat down with the people at OWN studios to discuss how to spot narcissists. We had so much to say it resulted in a three part series. Below is part one.

I wasn't interested in rehashing all the familiar traits -- boasting, manipulation, unabashed arrogance -- because most people, even those narcissistic enough to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, won't strut about insulting you at the start of a relationship. If they did, no one would fall in love with them.

The Donald Trumps of the world are easy enough to spot, but quieter, self-doubting, privately grandiose narcissists -- well, they're another matter altogether. So are communal narcissists, who elevate themselves above the rest of humanity based on their superhuman capacity -- in their minds, anyway -- for selflessness, generosity and altruism.

The only way to spot all narcissists, however subtle or extreme, is to look for what's missing. And we can't do that if we're looking in the wrong places.

Hint: It's not a lack of empathy.

In the following video, I outline in more detail why people miss narcissists so frequently and help you recognize the strategies common to all narcissists, whether they think they're the smartest, the prettiest, the most misunderstood, or the most giving people in the room.

As you'll see, we have to rethink narcissism to better recognize -- and cope with -- the narcissists in our lives.

Because when we understand what truly drives narcissists, we empower ourselves. And when we embrace healthy narcissism, enjoying special attention, at least sometimes, with people we love and trust, we discover an even more important gift: the capacity to protect ourselves from extreme narcissists.

That's what we all stand to gain from rethinking narcissism.

Don't miss parts two and three, airing 7/31 and 8/7, where we'll discuss coping and recovery in more detail.

2015-06-26-1435320668-4816217-rethinkingnarcissismcorrected80.jpg

Where do you fall in the narcissism spectrum? Too high or too low? Take the narcissism test and find out.

Sign up for my newsletter, for more tips and advice, as well as information on my book, Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad -- And Surprising Good -- About Feeling Special, devoted to understanding and coping with narcissism in all its forms, in our friends, lovers, colleagues-and even ourselves. On sale wherever books are sold; Harperwave and Harper UK