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Character trumped

I have always been told that I am pretty easy to fight with. Now, I don’t see that through my own eyes, however people tell me this, along with “you are a big tiger in anyone’s jungle”. That can be a worry if you like to argue as well. The last comment was framed by Dr Anton Franckeiss a long time ago. I would argue that I am opinionated, in that I am not afraid to offer my opinion and more than happy to support and argue my opinion. When you add to that a forceful personality, I can see why such a view of me might be formed. Conversely, I do change my mind, value others input, admit when I am wrong and have a very high growth mindset. 


Yet there are some people who enjoy arguing just for the sake of arguing; they can’t help themselves, and will make a fuss about the most trivial things just to cause conflict. I am now creating a new personality type that I call the “Trump Type” personality: a grandiose, sky-high extraversion, combined with off-the-chart low agreeableness, coupled with a relentless reward-seeking need for personal positive feedback or gain.


Trump displays a strong sense of his own importance, combined with a grandiose feeling that he alone is responsible for any achievement. Typically, this is the hallmark of the narcissist; grandiosity is one of the central tenets of a narcissistic personality. Narcissists tend to take credit for everything as if no one else contributed to the end product. The daily mantra of this type of personality seems to be, “I object if it is not about me/includes me/suits me".


These type of people always blame others as the source of an argument. You will hear them say “it’s your fault”, “you are to blame”, “you deserve it” or “I was only looking after my interests”. It can be almost impossible to get them to consider your views because in their mind they are always right. This is not about a tendency to pick petty fights, nor having a short temper. The joke is that when Donald Trump plays golf, he is playing Donald Trump because no one else is capable or great enough to be in his presence.


Looking at it solely from my coaching knowledge and experience, I would say that the argumentative people I coach:


  • Have a grandiose sense of self-importance.

  • Are preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

  • Believe that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).

  • Require excessive admiration: regularly looks for compliments, and is highly susceptible to flattery.

  • Have a sense of entitlement.

  • Are inter-personally exploitative.

  • Lack empathy: is unwilling (or, I would add, unable) to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

  • Are often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

  • Show arrogant, haughty (rude and abusive) behaviours or attitudes.

  • Have less impulse control than others.

  • Have a more negative mindset.

  • Lack flexibility.

  • Find it difficult to resolve conflict.

  • Are likely to have an exaggerated response to minor issues.

  • See things always in black or white and they are always one or the other.


Nick Cohen in the Observer comment section on 05/02/17 wrote a great piece on this very topic. He claimed that compulsive liars should not bother us because they can harm no one if no one listens to them. That may be true up until now in politics, but I have met many of them in the workplace: leaders who have a pumped up ego, with a compulsive need for gratification and questionable character. Cohen talks now about compulsive believers who follow these compulsive liars and therein lies the dilemma we now face in politics.


My concern is that President Trump, the sky-high extrovert with the off-the-chart low agreeableness coupled with a relentless reward-seeking need for personal positive feedback or gain, might try to take big risks to deliver big payoffs - to make America great again as his campaign slogan says. Ask anyone what they think of Donald Trump and you are almost guaranteed one of two instantaneous - almost reflexive - reactions: “he is great” (read: I admire his guts, love his strength and honesty), or “he is awful” (read: he is a disgusting, self-serving bigot and demagogue). The argumentative real-estate developer that he is will certainly test our nerves, if not our lives.



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