Even with the pandemic forcing many workplaces into the virtual space, it can be difficult to escape the manipulative and oft-destructive behaviors of a narcissist in the workplace. Now that more of us are beginning to migrate back into physical offices, it’s more vital than ever to remind ourselves how to deal with someone who exhibits these tendencies, especially if we’re going to be around them for 40 hours a week or more.
Today, the term narcissism is overused to describe someone who seems to have an inflated ego. It’s an especially common allegation on social media sites. However, don’t assume that narcissists don’t exist in the workplace. True narcissists crave admiration, want to be the center of focus, and are overconfident because they are power and status-hungry. The narcissist is interested in something that can make them seem more attractive.
Although everyone at work at first admires or idolizes the narcissist, they ultimately find out the narcissist’s game. Until a new recruit comes along, the narcissist runs out of people to sabotage or blame. Everyone else has learned to keep their distance. The narcissist has already done a lot of harm at this stage.
So what can we do about it?
Don’t be deceived if the classic narcissist seems to be compassionate at times, going out of her way to do you a favor or assist you with a project. These people are just looking out for themselves and would not hesitate to throw you under the bus if and when it benefits them.
Expect no consistent acts of kindness from the narcissist, and be wary of falling prey to their charms, as narcissists are masters at attracting admirers. It’s best to respectfully refuse when they give a favor or a helping hand because they’re likely to expect you to return favors tenfold.
The fact that narcissists have a fragile self-esteem concealed under their arrogant trust makes them susceptible to the slightest criticism. Don’t point fingers at them or hold them responsible for anything. Instead, discuss the impact the problem has had on you, your feelings, or the company to indirectly address the implications of their actions. Instead of focusing on issues, try to focus on solutions. Normally, I would not recommend taking an indirect approach, but it is the best choice for this personality type.
Unfortunately, the narcissist is unconcerned with the achievements and goals. Go somewhere else if you want to celebrate a win. Your opinions will be dismissed, and the conversation will quickly turn to his realm of grandiosity and self-praise.
Try not to be activated by a narcissist’s narcissistic attitude, even though it’s challenging. Narcissists make a lot of unsolicited suggestions and seldom follow through because they feel they are superior to others. They’ll think they know something, but they’ll fail to put it into practice.
If you have a lot of free time, you can spend it on a worthwhile debate, which you will find elsewhere. Don’t bother trying to persuade this individual to change their mind; your point of view is likely to be dismissed. Avoid endorsing their viewpoints because this individual would gladly pull you into a third-party debate or disagreement as a fervent supporter of their beliefs and actions. Recognize their contribution respectfully, throw in a compliment for good measure, and go about your business.
You would be battered if you spend enough time with a narcissist. Your backside would need to be bruised. Pick your battles wisely. A narcissist’s ego is extremely fragile. Wounds and bruises go deeper than you might think, and they aren’t cured by antibodies. Looking for an apology is futile. It’s always safer to take the high road when dealing with a narcissist.
It’s doubtful that a fight can be resolved with a tie. When you disagree with them, don’t try to persuade them to change their minds. Recognize that narcissists are expert argument manipulators and logic twisters, so you can feel crazy afterward. Control the desire to win and make a point. Learn how to cure yourself. In any case, these are valuable abilities to have.
If you’re dealing with a narcissist, you’ll need to practice detachment. You would feel compelled to speak up if they hurt your feelings; it will be a normal urge to express your feelings. Recognize, however, that you might end up feeling worse than you did before you said something. Of course, you are free to say whatever you want, but your primary goal should not be to receive an apology, as this is impossible. Indeed, you may find yourself apologizing to them for something unexpected.
All they do and say can be interpreted through the prism of mental illness: strange behavior characterized by feelings of superiority, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Emotional detachment can help you form more productive interactions and responses.
Check out my related post: Do you HumbleBrag?