We all know this person. The guy who constantly shows off, name-drops, and brags about every accomplishment. Admit it – he’s annoying. So, how can you deal with a person like this and keep your sanity intact? Here’s your instruction manual, courtesy of Psychologies magazine.
- For starters: What kind of show-off are they? Dr. Victoria Lukats is a psychiatrist and an expert on relationships and dating. She says if the person is a narcissist – someone who assumes that others are less intelligent or talented than he is – he won’t see his behavior as a problem. So if you ask him to dial down the bragging, he probably won’t. Someone with LOW self-esteem, on the other hand, brags about his achievements as a way of fishing for compliments. Tread lightly with this person. Any attempt to “put him in his place” could damage his fragile self-esteem. This person’s bragging comes from not knowing how to connect in a real or meaningful way.
- Then: Choose your words carefully. Show-offs seek attention until they get it, so ignoring their behavior probably isn’t going to make it stop. Jean Twenge is a Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University. She says to go ahead and praise the person, but choose your words carefully. Saying, “You’re so good at this,” reinforces the idea that he’s special – and stands out. However, by saying something like, “That was really well done” – you’ll be praising the task and not the person, and that’ll help keep his ego in check.
- Also: Don’t embarrass the person in front of a group. Twenge says that narcissists tend to become aggressive after social rejection, and people with low self-esteem may withdraw completely.
- Resist competing with show-offs. If a friend’s always telling you how wonderful her marriage or her job is, you may be tempted to one-up her. DON’T. Lukats says there’s no winner in this contest. After all, who can judge who has the best spouse or career? A light-hearted comment such as, “What a jet-set life you lead” or, “When do you find time to switch off?” – will steer the conversation in another direction.