Dealing With Boastful People

When I moved back to Boston, I was excited to go back to my former hair stylist. I found that she — let’s call her Sonya — had moved to a salon on fashionable Newbury Street, so I went into the city just for my appointment. Almost as soon as I settled in to the chair, I remembered why I always used to feel wrung out after going to see her: Sonya had a very inflated sense of self.

Several times during that appointment she uttered the words, “I mean, I’m very good at what I do.” It made me feel so uncomfortable! What was I to say in response? I left the salon with a nice haircut and a vow to myself never to return to her chair.

Boastful behavior often stems from a place of insecurity. According to Psychology Today, a person may brag in hopes of leading others to think well of them. Everyone likes to brag a little — but cross the threshold and you run the risk of making the people around you roll their eyes. Hard.

The question is not if you’ll have to deal with a boastful person, but rather what to do when you encounter one.

Well, the good news is that you’re almost totally off the hook because, as Dr. Fredric Neuman points out, “Boasting is unpleasant to listen to: IT IS BECAUSE THE PERSON BOASTING IS NOT INTERESTED IN YOU.” So it doesn’t really matter what you say or do in response because, to the bragger, your reaction is basically just white noise.

You could try to bring this person’s attention to their bad behavior, but this could fuel even more narcissistic tendencies. You can walk away. Or, if you don’t have the luxury of choosing not to see this person any more, you can imagine yourself on a beach with an umbrella-adorned cocktail every time the braggart starts talking.

Do you encounter a lot of boastful behavior? What are your survival tips?

P.S. More tips on living a happier life.


Image by Kensie Kate

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