Are extraverts narcissists and what about introverts?

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There is a scale of introvert/ extraversion, few people are one extreme or the other.  An extravert is energised when spending time with people, where the introvert loses energy and is happy on their own. The more extravert somebody is the less they tend to imagine why someone would need to be alone. Extroverts often don’t understand introversion, always assuming company (especially theirs) is always better than no company. Is an being an extrovert narcissist? Is being an extreme extrovert, the same as being a narcissist as many people have suggested to me?

Narcissism: A trait linked with extraversion?

Narcissism is a trait, often linked with high extraversion. However, an extravert is no more a narcissist than all introverts are shy. Many people assume the two ideas are linked as narcissists crave recognition and admiration, which some see as part of extraversion. Narcissists also tend to assertive (bordering on aggressive?) in promoting their own interests (note: their interests, often not the same as the business interests). Sounds like an extravert so far!

Narcissists are highly competitive and put down rivals, with responses tending to be more personal than business oriented.

Narcissists often respond in an over the top manner to perceived slights and aggressively to insults. This can make it hard to work for a narcissistic manager, unless you’re happy to always let them know how wonderful they are.

Wanting others to like you

Narcissists know they’re special and want others to know it too. We might all want others to like us, but narcissists go beyond this, actively seeking admiration (they’ll call it the respect they’re due). Differentiating a narcissist can get more complicated in business when one overlays a need to market oneself (either to get business, or promotion). All business owners should be looking to market their skills and using the testimony of others (‘admiration’) to do so, but those who take it to extreme can alienate others.

Psychology Today discusses the ‘interpersonal circumplex’ model which looks at two dimensions of interpersonal behaviour:

  • agency (getting ahead and attaining social status)
  • communion (getting along with others and maintaining warm relationships).

Narcissists tend to be high in agency and low in communion (Furnham, Richards, & Paulhus, 2013). Going further most definitions of narcissism include phrases like (arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, need for admiration and demanding).

Introversion, extraversion and narcissism?

An extreme extrovert is not the same as a narcissist, in the same way as shyness is not the same as introversion. In fact, it’s possible to be an introverted narcissist; wanting to get ahead and attain social status (high agency), plus not good at maintaining warm relationships (low communion) could be linked with a preference to think internally and not being keen to socialise.

Reminder for small business owners

This article started in response to several business owners asking about extrovert narcissism. Perhaps an issue for some business owners is not conflate social status with getting ahead (growing ones’ business) and to remember that networking is high in communion.

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