4 Ways to Deal with Narcissists in the Workplace

4 Methods to Take care of Narcissists within the Office


Prazis Images/Shutterstock

Supply: Prazis Photographs/Shutterstock

Narcissists will be exhausting. Their shallow conversations, self-promotion, and lack of consideration can depart others feeling used or drained.

Many methods for coping with narcissists—that means people who meet the diagnostic standards for narcissistic character dysfunction or show robust narcissistic traits—have downsides. For instance, you possibly can associate with a narcissist’s grandiosity however really feel disheartened by the fakery. You’ll be able to attempt to be constructive however threat being put down. You’ll be able to ignore them however find yourself as a goal. You’ll be able to communicate up, solely to be attacked.

Whereas there are not any excellent methods, some approaches may also help when going through narcissistic bosses, colleagues, or shoppers.

1. Use narcissists’ ego-driven targets to your benefit.

Anticipating those that are excessive in narcissism to play by regular guidelines is a setup. Such people are typically motivated by consideration, picture, and successful.

Cooperation and open communication usually are not extremely valued by narcissists. A brand new examine of 118 executives in a big Chinese language agency, for instance, discovered that narcissistic executives affect their items to be much less cooperative and fewer receptive to data from different items throughout the identical firm.

But lack of cooperation will be pricey to a company. To extend cooperation from a narcissist, enchantment to their core motives by asking your self:

  • How would cooperating with you improve their picture of their eyes?
  • How would cooperating get them extra consideration?
  • How would cooperating make them really feel revered?
  • How would cooperating make them really feel they gained?

2. Know when and the best way to set boundaries.

Narcissists are used to getting what they need, typically by manipulating or sporting others out. You could be going towards the tide for those who communicate up. Nevertheless, whenever you let a boundary violation slide, future boundary violations are prone to be larger and are available extra typically.

When a narcissist is insulting, contentious, or violates your boundaries, you would possibly discover one thing to acknowledge them for, regardless of how minor—but in addition inform them their remedy doesn’t really feel respectful and will intervene along with your capacity or willingness to assist them obtain their targets.

After all, you need to think about energy differentials at work. Highlighting values or pointing to boundary violations could also be efficient or acceptable with a subordinate or colleague. However doing so with a consumer might threat you dropping a sale. Standing as much as a extremely narcissistic CEO might threat your job.

Ask your self: What’s the price of going together with or standing as much as a narcissist? Narcissists will be vindictive. But dropping your sense of self brings a excessive value.

3. Give attention to values.

Narcissists are typically pushed by self-aggrandizement. The query, “What’s in it for me?” looms massive. Narcissists’ behaviors typically displays their underlying values.

One evaluation of three research discovered that narcissistic people are extra keen to lie, cheat, and steal than others. In one of many research, contributors have been requested, in the event that they have been promoting a automobile with a defective water pump, whether or not they would disclose the wanted restore. Not disclosing would imply it might possible stay undiscovered till summer season, lengthy after the automobile was offered. A non-disclosing vendor would obtain a larger value for the automobile however the lack of disclosure might price the client considerably extra when the pump failed and broken the engine. The examine discovered that the upper the extent of narcissism, the extra possible the particular person wouldn’t disclose the wanted restore.

One other state of affairs requested contributors to think about they have been up for a promotion. They have been advised of a subordinate’s sensible concept and had the choice to current the subordinate’s concept as their very own. After being advised that their presentation of the thought had secured the job, contributors have been requested how a lot of their $10,000 hiring bonus they might share with the subordinate. Contributors with the next stage of narcissism have been much less prone to share any monetary acquire.

The authors warned, “When a chief is keen to lie, cheat, and steal in pursuit of his or her personal pursuits, it will possibly demotivate others, put the group in danger, and encourage others to have interaction in related habits.”

These techniques are about domination. They depart little room for values akin to reciprocity, inclusiveness, variety, compassion, connection, studying, empathy, altruism, or self-awareness. By pointing to the dearth of such values in narcissists’ actions, you declare increased floor that narcissists hardly ever contemplate and have little solution to compete with.

Narcissism Important Reads

Narcissistic leaders might dismiss values akin to compassion or altruism as inconsequential to an organization’s backside line. Nevertheless, a 2020 evaluation of greater than 150 research on narcissism discovered that grandiose narcissistic leaders jeopardize their organizations as they “take outsized dangers, exploit others, overclaim credit score for fulfillment, blame others for failure, ignore the recommendation of specialists, and are overconfident of their talents and judgment.”

The detrimental results of narcissism may even lengthen to professional sports activities organizations. A 2020 examine on NBA staff efficiency discovered that groups with increased imply narcissism had poorer coordination and efficiency than groups with decrease imply narcissism.

4. Keep away from the next traps.

  • Arguing with narcissists. As an alternative, validate any of their robust factors, and transfer on.
  • Feeling it’s essential to defend your method. As an alternative, maintain your feedback brief and candy. Much less is extra with narcissists. They’d fairly hear themselves than you, anyway.
  • Making an attempt to get them to just accept accountability. As an alternative, level out attainable detrimental penalties their method might convey them, then allow them to select.
  • Taking what they are saying personally. As an alternative, acknowledge they’re like this with everyone. That is merely how narcissists search to get their wants met.
  • Responding to dramatics or ultimatums. As an alternative, sidestep theatrics and return focus to the duty at hand.
  • Taking the bait once they blame or criticize. As an alternative, reassure them that you’re not towards them, after which go about your small business.
  • Overlooking narcissists’ vagueness, failure to maintain their agreements, or makes an attempt to say credit score to your work. As an alternative, defend your self by documenting agreements and your accomplishments. Take into account notifying HR or different authorities. Recruit allies so you do not face a narcissist alone. And contemplate whether or not working with a narcissist is finest to your profession in the long term.


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