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narcissists

Difficult Personalities In The Workplace #1 – Narcissists

It can be difficult to work with narcissists because it seems like they are only interested in their own gain, are unaware that other people should be considered, and may retaliate when confronted or criticised.

What is a narcissist?

The term “narcissism” comes from the name of a figure in Greek Mythology, Narcissus. He was so handsome, he fell in love with his own reflection. We use the word “narcissist” to refer to a person who has an inflated sense of self-worth, truly believing they are more important than other people, that has an intense need for admiration and often lacks empathy for other people. A person exhibiting narcissistic behaviour might be suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Why is it difficult to work with a narcissist?

It can be difficult to work with narcissists because it seems like they are only interested in their own gain, are unaware that other people should be considered, and may retaliate when confronted or criticised.

Is it really possible to work with a narcissist?

Narcissists are often very charismatic, bright, and engaging when they find themselves working with people who accept them for who they are and who makes an effort to praise and empower them. However, a narcissist might be manipulating the people around them into giving them more admiration and praise than they deserve. A narcissist’s inflated sense of self-worth is often rooted in shame and trauma, and they often need help from the people around them to hold onto their self-esteem.

The narcissistic manager

In the long run, working with a narcissistic manager might be damaging to your emotional wellbeing. It is very important to set boundaries and not to share your personal life with this manager, as they may try and use it against you. Build a strong support network around yourself at work. When you disagree with their course of action, have some suggestions at hand with clear indicators of what’s in it for them. Never ignore them, and don’t take their criticism personally.

The narcissistic colleague

When you need to interact with a narcissistic colleague, have your talking points and stick to it; don’t allow them to side-track you. Keep coming back to the point until you have an answer. Don’t allow them to distract you from doing your job and don’t fall for their flattery. If possible, rather go to this colleague’s manager for information.

The narcissistic employee

It’s difficult to avoid hiring a narcissist because they generally excel in interviews. The best way to handle them if you find yourself stuck with one is to have them working in a strong system. They will try and manipulate weak situations to their advantage. Try and empower them instead of just criticising their work, and avoid placing them in situations where teamwork is expected; rather use them on their own.

The narcissistic client

The best way to handle a narcissistic client is to make them feel valued. Express your gratitude for their business and tell them how they will benefit. Maintain respect and don’t take their rudeness personally. Don’t argue with them and take time to cool down if they upset you. It is very important to set and maintain boundaries because they will try to get more out of you than you are willing to give.

When you understand that a narcissist is actually a damaged soul in need of support, it might change the way they respond to you. That being said, if the narcissist persists in working against you, it might be best to remove them (or yourself, depending on your position) from the situation completely.