Dealing With Superficial People


Who wants to work with shallow people?  Most people want to interact with individuals who have a solid core of values. In fact, can you imagine being in an intimate relationship with a superficial individual. It’s not a good thought. 

You like that person, but the superficial nature of that person is a barrier to any genuine relationship. This situation is a case where actions speak louder than words.  You see them saying the right words and attempting to do the right things. 

However, sooner or later, their superficial disposition comes out, and you can’t believe they are that way.  If you were honest with yourself, you knew that person was pretty hollow in the beginning, but you didn’t want to accept it.  

First, there are no physical characteristics that can identify a superficial person. In many organizations, teamwork is the way to accomplish my tasks.  Richard Daft, author of Management, notes the connectedness of teams:  “When people become part of a team, their success depends on the team’s success; therefore, they must depend on how well other people perform, not just on their own individual initiative and actions.”[1] 

Consequently, the best leaders want the right folks on their teams.  Clearly, shallow people come in all shapes and sizes. They have varying backgrounds. They live in every community. However, these people all have a common characteristic: They are externally-driven. This article explores the dynamics of building relationships and the nature of superficial people. 

When an individual understands the nature of genuine relationships, they will be able to foster better relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and loved ones. 

Second, an individual’s character still counts in fostering meaningful relationships in spite of power or material wealth. Leaders set the tone in most organizations. 

Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, agree with this premise: “Managers determine and shape organizational culture through the kinds of values and norms they promote in an organization.”[2]  Therefore, superficial leaders often surround themselves with superficial followers which are problematic at best.

Superficial people care little about the value of other people, so they focus on themselves, always thinking, “What is in it for me?”  Because shallow individuals are constantly trying to make the world conform to them, they focus little on building good personal content. 

England’s best-known preacher Charles Spurgeon once noted, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.” 

Shallow people are often distracted with other things besides good character. Some chase money. Others chase power or fame. Unfortunately, these things lack much substance.  Like eating frosting on a cake, these people never get a nutritious meal to promote a healthy spirit. Yes, the frosting provides a short-term boost in life, but it is not lasting.  Therefore, superficial people spend little time on good content. 

In the frantic pace of modern living, many people are in the pursuit of the wrong possessions.  The media bombards us with the notion that “We deserve it all.”  When this philosophy is believed, it creates a generation of inwardly focused people. We become a “Me” generation.

Because this person feels he is entitled to be happy, he focuses on what can make him happy now.  Obviously, it is far easier to pursue things (money, power, right clique, etc.) in terms of happiness because they are tangible to the eyes.  However, this short path is not a road to fortune, but perhaps a highway to destruction.  

If you are in relationships with superficial person, you can be assured that your intimacy will lack any significant depth. Your relationship may feel like the real thing, but over time the truth usually will reveal itself.  How does an individual then seek to surround themselves with people of good content?  In addressing this question, here are some things to consider in any relationship:

Finally, building true relationships is dependent on the right idiosyncrasies.  An individual’s character is more important than what he or she brings in terms of assets. Sadly, some people do not have this deepness of character.

They exist on the shallow end of the spectrum; they rarely make serious relationships. Why is this factor the case? These people are more concerned with what’s on the outside of an individual than what is on the inside. Clearly, this is a mistake.  Real individuals want quality, meaningful relationships and are unwilling to settle for less. 

Discuss your experience with superficial people.

 © 2013 by Daryl D. Green                                    


[1]Management by Richard Daft

[2] Contemporary Management by Gareth Jones and Jennifer George



2 thoughts on “Dealing With Superficial People

  1. Wow, thank you for clarifying the facts that I was “Thinking and witnessing” within my recent relationship of a few months, I did not understand why I was guarding my heart, and now it makes much more sense.

    • Hello Meg,

      Thanks for your comments! Sadly, superficial people can appear and disappear out of our lives routinely. We need to guard against close relationships so that they are not with superficial people.

      Dr. Green

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