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Spot a superficial person with these 17 characteristics they just can’t hide!

superficial person

Trust me; you’ll get nowhere with a superficial person.

And you don’t want to hang out with one, either.

They focus on outward appearances and couldn’t care less about what is going on underneath.

But they still do care about something – their own self, if that counts.

Because they’re shallow, it is best not to expect much from them. They’re not going to be reliable friends or empathetic lovers because a relationship with them is all about what you provide.

It’s best to stay away from them but sometimes, one or two will come our way.

Here are 17 tell-tale signs that you’re dealing with a superficial person. But before that, let’s discuss how I’m defining a “superficial person”.

What is a superficial person?

My analysis to follow is based on Lee and Ashton’s research on the personality factor or super-trait they call Honest-Humility.

These researchers found that, across countries and cultures, sincere individuals are more likely to be fair-minded, non-greedy, and modest; whereas deceptive people are more likely to be exploitative, greedy, and arrogant.

They’ve described as follows:

“The Sincerity scale assesses a tendency to be genuine in interpersonal relations. Low scorers will flatter others or pretend to like them in order to obtain favors, whereas high scorers are unwilling to manipulate others. The Fairness scale assesses a tendency to avoid fraud and corruption. Low scorers are willing to gain by cheating or stealing, whereas high scorers are unwilling to take advantage of other individuals or of society at large. The Greed Avoidance scale assesses a tendency to be uninterested in possessing lavish wealth, luxury goods, and signs of high social status. Low scorers want to enjoy and to display wealth and privilege, whereas high scorers are not especially motivated by monetary or social-status considerations. The Modesty scale assesses a tendency to be modest and unassuming. Low scorers consider themselves as superior and as entitled to privileges that others do not have, whereas high scorers view themselves as ordinary people without any claim to special treatment.”

In this article, I’m assuming that superficial people are low on the sincerity scale.

So without further ado, let’s go over 17 traits of a superficial person.

1. They are materialistic

Superficial people’s main goal is to gain as many materialistic benefits as possible.

Material buyers – defined in a study as people who value materialistic pursuits and prefer buying material goods over experiences – have been found to be liked less by their peers than people who pursue happiness through life experiences.

Some chase money, others chase power or fame but all of these lack substance. They feel entitled to be happy so they focus on what can make them happy immediately, even if it doesn’t last.

2. They have no conviction

A superficial person goes where the wind goes. They have no opinion or conviction that can’t be swayed, convinced out of, or just eradicated without much pressure.

In fact, they can’t be bothered with caring about any “cause” because they only care about themselves.

Research shows that highly materialistic people may care less about the environment and other people than “non-materialists” do.

3. They care so much about how they look

They are all about appearances. They only care about how they look but lack the ability for self-observing and looking deeper inside themselves. Selfishness and superficiality goes hand-in-hand.

According to author Alison Stevenson in Vice, “In my mind, shallow people only care about appearance…all that matters to them is that they find someone who looks good standing next to them.”

They don’t pay attention to observe and notice feelings, behaviors, and thoughts of the people around them. They look like on the outside and not what is in people’s hearts.

For them, good is only good if they get something out of it.

4. Their relationship is self-centered

When they are in a relationship, the relationship revolves around them. It is always about them and their needs. There is no “give and take” in the relationship because they always take from you.

According to F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. in Psychology Today, there are two defining characteristics of selfishness:

“Being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; Having no regard for the needs or feelings of others.”

Barth says that dealing consistently with someone is selfish can make your life miserable:

“Books have been written about narcissism, “Generation Me,” even “healthy” selfishness. But when someone you have to deal with regularly is consistently self-involved and self-centered, they can make your life miserable.”

If you are in relationships with a superficial person, it will lack any significant depth because of its one-sidedness and inequality.

It is also the same if you are friends with a superficial person. They only want to be with you because you have something to contribute and give them. Friendships, relationships, whatever, it is all based on “What can you do for me?” philosophy.

In short, they are using you for their own good. That’s not a real relationship, isn’t it?

5. They lack intelligence

This is not about IQ or how high you score on a test. This is about self-intelligence which includes social contract, manners, grace, gratitude, and others.

According to an article in Medium, “people who are shallow may in fact be quite well-informed and possess a depth of knowledge…however, they don’t fully utilize the information they’ve obtained”.

Intelligence is something that everybody has, but everybody has it in different amounts. People who more socially and emotionally intelligent are able to look deeper and analyze others’ behaviors but a superficial person doesn’t care.

6. They are backstabbers

A superficial person may smile and talk at you but in the back of their minds, they are noticing how they don’t like your hair, your teeth, etc. They are fake people because the emotion they display doesn’t necessarily match what they think.

Research shows that highly materialistic people tend to care less about the environment and other people than “non-materialists” do.

They may say “Bless your heart,” but then rip you to shreds the moment you aren’t within ear’s distance.

[To learn how to deal with selfish and toxic people, and build your own self-esteem, check out my new eBook: The No-Nonsense Guide to Using Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy for a Better Life]

7. “Sorry, I can’t” dominates their vocabulary

I am not saying that people who have depth don’t know when to say no. But when you care for other people, it is normal that you help and pitch in as much as you could.

According to F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. in Psychology Today, self-involved people are unlikely to be very responsive to your needs:

“If someone is both totally self-involved and uncaring about anyone else, they are not likely to be very responsive to you in any way other than evaluating how you meet their needs.”

But superficial people never do – they don’t pitch in, roll up their sleeves, or give their time to something that might not benefit them. They think that there’s nothing in it for them so they don’t give a damn about it.

8. They are judgmental

At one time or another, we’ve held ignorant beliefs about a person or group of people. But the difference between rational people and the superficial ones is that the former doesn’t habitually judge others.

Krauss explained on Psychology Today that, “Egocentrism can cause us to make incorrect assumptions about what other people are thinking or feeling” and “annoyed or even enraged when others fail to see things their way. ”

Maybe they do judge sometimes because nobody’s perfect, but not all the time. Superficial people will judge the moment they get the chance – and that is every day.

They will form negative opinions about someone without any evidence, making them toxic people.

[To learn how to deal with selfish and toxic people, and build your own self-esteem, check out my new eBook: The No-Nonsense Guide to Using Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy for a Better Life]

9. They love to gossip

Don’t tell your problems to people: eighty percent don’t care; and the other twenty percent are glad you have them. – Lou Holtz

They are busybodies and if they have something to contribute it is typically “Did you hear about…” or “Do you know that he/she..”

They disguise as concerned people but they only want to gossip. They worry about nothing but having a juicy story to tell that puts them in the spotlight.

When you talk with a superficial person, it involves a fair amount of gossip and empty talk. I bet they won’t notice that you’re bored listening to their incessant talking, too. It’s a one-sided conversation from hell.

10. They only wear branded clothes

Because they’re all about appearances, it’s no wonder that they will also be about the labels and big brands. They don’t want to look cheap so they will not wear anything unless it has a famous label on it.

Not only that, they look down on anyone who isn’t doing the same.

11. They want to be the center of attention

Superficial people thinks the world evolves around them. They are attention grabbers and if they aren’t getting it, they do whatever they can to get it.

They are overreacting drama queens who are all about having the adoration of everyone around them.

You an call them narcissistic who are unable to grasp the difference between good and bad attention.

12. They have an extreme sense of entitlement

The world owes you nothing. It was here first. – Mark Twain

People who are not selfish and narcissistic do not go and act like the world owes them. Life gives us nothing – either we work for something or go without.

On the other hand, superficial people feel entitled to deserve everything – nice clothes, the best house, a new car, and the best-looking partner, just for being them.

13. They don’t listen

If you meet a narcissist, you will quickly notice that they have all the makings of a superficial person. The reason is that the only interesting thing they find are those things that involve them.

For example, a conversation with a superficial person will focus on them. Most of the time, they hijack the conversation so it always comes back to “me.”

Narcissists struggle to listen and tend to be quite superficial. They may do this because they believe they are better than other people, according to Rhonda Freeman Ph.D. in Psychology Today on an article on narcissism:

“They believe they are better than other people, and usually, the variables that are self-enhanced are related to “power and status.”

14. They are social climbers

Most of us are familiar with the rating system for men and women, where 10 is the highest and 1 is the lowest. If a ten is attached to a two because of the former’s money, power, or status, it’s called being superficial.

They are social climbers and date someone just to up their own status. It doesn’t matter if there is a connection or sexual attraction. What matters is if they can move up the social ladder.

15. They love giving backhanded compliments

Most superficial people don’t know how to give compliments. If they do, then it’s a backhanded one.

Backhanded compliments are about as nice as they get so if they have something nice to say, it will always be followed by something to squash you.

16. They are ungrateful

A superficial person thinks highly of himself so there’s no need to say thank you-you owe them, not the other way around. They are an ungrateful bunch of human beings.

17. They twist the truth

Another sign you’re dealing with a superficial person is that they NEVER accept any corrections – they’re PERFECT!

For them, they never did anything wrong so nothing is ever their fault. They think that their moral standing is taller than anyone else. Last but not least, they believe that they are the hero in every story too.

Being friends with a superficial person requires thick skin. Be prepared to get used, abused, and manipulated to their whims.

You can’t expect to have a deep relationship with a shallow person – Doe Zantamata

Now that we’ve covered how to spot a superficial person, let’s go discuss how can you actually deal with them.

(To dive deep into wisdom and techniques to help you live a better life, check out Hack Spirit’s no-nonsense guide to taking responsibility for your life here)

How to deal with superficial people: 5 no-nonsense tips

Superficial people are a time suck and a happiness suck. When you are around someone who is selfish, everything seems worse than it really is because they are maxing out the energy and the positive vibes in the room.

The more you hang around with this person or these people, the more frustrated you are going to be.

The best advice is to avoid them altogether. The realistic advice and the advice that most of us need to follow because we can’t always escape selfish people in our lives is to control your reaction to them.

Here’s how you can get a grip on superficial people in your life without having to do much of anything.

[Not only does Buddhism provide a spiritual outlet for many people, it can also improve your health and wellbeing. Check out my new no-nonsense guide to using Buddhism for a better life here].

1) Acknowledge their actions are not about you.

No matter how hard it might be, don’t scream and yell at them and tell them they are shallow and selfish. It won’t matter. They don’t care. You care. And it’s painful how much you care.

But that’s the thought that is ruining everything for you. You are spending way too much time thinking about them and you better believe they are not thinking about you at all.

Hence, the selfish nature of the person in front of you. So let it go. Let it all go and stop pretending you want them in your life and want them to pay attention to you. They won’t. Their life is not about you.

2) Remember that they don’t care about other people.

Unfortunately, this is a terrible way to live, but a lot of superficial people operate like this. They simply don’t care about other people.

We can say this over and over again in a million different ways but if you aren’t ready to hear it, you’ll continue to be frustrated by the selfish people in your life.

Are you picking up on a pattern here yet?

The way you feel about superficial people has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you. Time to turn the lens on yourself.

3) Don’t get involved.

If it’s difficult for you to be around someone who is selfish, just let them have their moment in the sun and move on.

Don’t engage with them and don’t provoke them. Trying to correct them or egg them on in a different direction is going to make them even worse.

This is exactly the kind of attention-seeking nature that superficial people exhibit and your attempts to try to convert them into decent people are going to be met with an enormous amount of resistance.

4) Let the world revolve around them.

The thing you need to know about superficial people is that they are not going to spend near as much time thinking about or talking about you as they do themselves.

So, decide ahead of time that it’s okay. It’s not really, but this is a trick you can use to get a grip on them in your own mind and move on without wanting to punch them in the face.

Let them have their glory moments. Let them boast and be awesome and be selfish. It’s only hurting them. But your thoughts are hurting you.

What you think about the selfish person or people in your life is far worse than what those people are actually doing.

As it turns out, getting a grip on superficial people is really about getting a grip on yourself and your thoughts. It’s not what most people want to hear, but it’s true.

If you can control those thoughts, you can be around anyone in any situation, and walk away without being frustrated.

5) Pay no attention.

A last line of defense is to just grab your smartphone and play some games on Facebook.

If this person is as selfish as you imagine, they are likely doing the same thing anyway and won’t even notice that you aren’t paying attention to them because they are too busy ignoring you.

You might find that your frustration with them is that you actually do what their attention and you’d like for them to be more involved in your life.

Selfishness, however, is subjective and the person you are dealing with likely doesn’t even realize their behavior.

You’ve labeled them selfish and are suffering the consequences of their behavior. Pay no attention and you won’t have a problem.

(If you’re looking for a structured, easy-to-follow framework to help you find your purpose in life and achieve your goals, check our eBook on how to be your own life coach here).

 

 

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Jude Paler

Written by Jude Paler

I am a poet with a positive outlook in life and a writer with a purpose in mind. I write to express my thoughts so that others will be inspired.

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