Narcissists may not espouse any values other than self-admiration, but there are people who actually fervently believe in justice, fairness, and compassion, but behave in self-righteous ways that betray all the principles they seem to espouse. You can see them putting down colleagues in meetings or asserting their superiority on account of education or ACT, SAT, GRE, GPA, L-SAT, M-CAT, or FAQ-U scores. This is very common in institutions of higher education by the way.
When you mix clueless with egotistical you suffer from people who talk forever, hog the mic, and bore the audience to tears with tired arguments that usually entail some self-aggrandizing BS. When they start talking, you can actually read bubbles on top of people’s heads: for how long is he going to talk about the same old BS now? This is usually accompanied by a collective sigh of resignation. This is not uncommon in faculty meetings by the way.
Some unbearable people like to show their shiny new toys. These may vary from the new yacht to the new condo to the new watch to the new piece of art. They think everyone is interested in material things the way they are. Are they hiding some existential insecurity, trying to fill a spiritual void, or just making others feel inferior on purpose?
Do not expect anyone in the unbearable group to show any interest in you whatsoever. It is all about them. Do not expect them to ask you questions, inquire about your work, your hobbies, or your family. It is patently clear to them that the world is only interested in their scintillating adventures. If you encounter an unbearable, within seconds the center of gravity will shift towards them.
Whereas people in the clueless cluster may be endearing for their innocence, those in the unbearable group range from reprehensible to repulsive. They waste psychological energy, ruin relationships, sabotage organizations, and undermine all the progress made by smart objects. The most odious part about the unbearable group is that there is usually a dumber group of people who follow them, fear them, or enable them. These people constitute a third cluster, the damn dumb enablers.
Isaac Prilleltensky is an award-winning academic and humor writer. His latest books, The Laughing Guide to Change, and The Laughing Guide to a Better Life, co-authored with Ora Prilleltensky, combine humor with science.