The impact of a narcissist in the workplace can be both profound and far-reaching. Narcissists tend to be manipulative, disruptive, and controlling, often taking credit for other’s work or ideas and disregarding the needs of their colleagues.
They are also very competitive and prioritize their own success over that of the team, which can create an unhealthy environment where employees may feel devalued or unappreciated. This can lead to decreased morale, decreased productivity, and a general feeling of disenchantment with the company as a whole.
Additionally, their presence in the workplace may cause conflicts among coworkers due to their manipulative tendencies and tactics such as triangulation, resulting in an overall decrease in team cohesion and communication.
In this post we shall be discussing 15 tips for coping with narcissists at work.
Is Your Colleague a Narcissist?
It is normal to come across people with selfish or toxic behavior in the workplace, but how do you know if you are dealing with a narcissist?
They Crave Attention
An excessive need for attention and recognition is a key indicator of a workplace narcissist, as they will strive to be the center of all conversations, tasks and activities.
They may attempt to overpower the opinions of others, hijack conversations or take up more than their fair share of the kudos when projects are completed.
In addition, they may talk excessively about their own achievements or those of the company they work for in order to gain recognition from other colleagues or management.
They Lack Empathy
Narcissists lack empathy, meaning they are unable to show understanding or compassion towards the feelings and needs of others. They are more likely to focus on their own success or image rather than considering the wellbeing of other people in the workplace.
This can lead to narcissistic behavior such as withholding important information from colleagues, taking credit for someone else’s work and playing down the achievements of other team members.
A narcissist may also invalidate the opinions and ideas of others, leaving them feeling frustrated and unappreciated.
They Are Not Accountable
Narcissists will find it difficult to take responsibility for any mistakes or errors they make in the workplace, instead turning to blame other people. They may not accept fault, instead making excuses or shifting the blame onto someone else.
Additionally, they may be unwilling to apologize or admit any wrongdoing and may even attempt to minimize the severity of the issue in order to protect their image.
As such, a narcissist often disregards the impact their behavior can have on other colleagues or team members and is unwilling to learn from mistakes.
They Are Manipulative
Narcissists often use manipulation as a tactic in the workplace. They may be subtle in their approach, trying to influence and control colleagues without them realizing it.
The narcissist will attempt to use guilt-tripping or playing the victim card to get people to do what they want, or try to make decisions for their team without consulting them. Narcissists may also try to engage in power plays with colleagues, setting up a competitive environment in order to maintain control and authority.
They Boast and Show Off
Narcissists have an inflated sense of their importance in the workplace, often leading them to exaggerate their own achievements and those of the company they are associated with.
They may use grandiose language when talking about either themselves or their company, presenting them as being more successful than they actually are.
Furthermore, they will also come across as arrogant and entitled when speaking to others, expecting recognition and admiration from their colleagues or team members.
They are Excessively Competitive
Narcissists tend to be excessively competitive in the workplace, particularly when it comes to outperforming their colleagues.
They may use any means necessary to gain recognition from senior management and other influential figures.
Additionally, they may attempt to manipulate others in order to gain an advantage or prove themselves better than their competitors, such as withholding information or falsifying results.
To top it all, they often have a heightened sense of entitlement, expecting special treatment and preferential treatment due to their perceived superiority.
Dealing with a Narcissist at Work
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (1) Don’t Take it Personally
Don’t take a narcissist’s behavior personally. It is highly unlikely that the behavior is directed at you in particular, and more likely reflective of their own issues and insecurities.
Try to remember that it is not about you, or your worth as an employee. Instead, focus on setting boundaries and limits when interacting with them, voicing your concerns honestly and openly, and taking care of yourself both mentally and physically so you are not overwhelmed by the situation.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (2) Set Boundaries
Establishing boundaries with a narcissist in the workplace is essential in managing expectations and maintaining order. It’s important to be assertive without being aggressive, and to let the narcissist know that you are committed to working together as professionals, but will not tolerate any type of manipulative or abusive behavior.
Speak up when necessary and clearly state what you need from them, whether that’s clarity on project deadlines, respect for your ideas and opinions, or simply more recognition of your contributions. Setting these boundaries early on can help keep the situation from spiraling out of control and minimize potential conflicts.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (3) Speak Up
Speaking up is essential when dealing with a narcissist at work. It’s important to remember that it is not your responsibility to keep them happy or meet their demands. Instead, focus on voicing your own thoughts and feelings in a calm and collected manner.
Don’t be afraid to express your needs firmly and clearly. Emphasize your rights as an employee and be sure they are respected. Remember, you have just as much of a say in the conversation as they do, so make sure that you don’t let yourself be silenced or intimidated. Being assertive and professional will help you get what you need from the situation without feeling overwhelmed or taken advantage of.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (4) Don’t Get Drawn In
Do not get embark on pointless debates or arguments with the narcissist. Narcissists often take things personally and may attempt to turn the conversation into a personal attack against you.
If this happens, don’t engage in trying to win the argument. Instead, focus on communicating your point clearly and professionally without escalating the situation further.
Remind yourself that these conversations are not productive and will only sap your energy if you allow them to continue. Be firm but polite in stating that you have said all you need to say and respectfully end the discussion.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (5) Take Care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is essential when you are having to face a narcissist’s toxicity at work. It can be emotionally exhausting, so make sure you prioritize self-care and your own mental health.
Seek out supportive people who understand your situation and can offer emotional support. Set aside time for activities that bring you joy and allow you to relax, such as reading, painting, or going for a walk.
Don’t forget to practice simple acts of self-care like drinking enough water, getting plenty of sleep, engaging in physical activity, and making healthy meals. Allowing yourself the time to take care of your needs will help you stay focused and resilient in stressful situations.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (6) Remove Yourself from the Situation
It’s important to remember that removing yourself from a situation with a narcissist is an act of self-care, and should be treated as such. If the narcissists’ behaviour is making it difficult for you to complete tasks or is causing you great emotional distress, it may be necessary to remove yourself from the environment or task.
Speak with your supervisor or human resources department about what you are experiencing, and discuss ways to mitigate the situation. Ultimately, your physical and mental health should always come first, so don’t feel bad about needing to take a step back if the situation becomes too much for you.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (7) Document Everything
Keeping detailed records of events can provide helpful evidence should the situation with the narcissist escalate or require Human Resources intervention down the line. Keep track of dates and details of incidents, transcripts of conversations, emails sent, and any actions taken in response to inappropriate behavior. This can provide important context for decision makers if legal action is necessary. Having a thorough record may also be beneficial should you ever need to file a grievance against an individual or company
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (8) Address Behaviors, Not Personalities
When addressing narcissistic behavior in the workplace, it’s important to focus on specific behaviors rather than attacking someone’s character. This helps to keep the conversation professional and productive without further damaging relationships between colleagues.
It is important to remain focused on the behavior in question and explain why it is problematic or disagreeable without making any personal attacks or accusations. Additionally, providing examples of how this particular behavior has been detrimental and what needs to be done differently can be a useful tool for creating a more harmonious work environment.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (9) Voice Your Concerns
Make sure to express any concerns regarding how well (or poorly) a task is going between team members openly and honestly as soon as possible, before any misunderstandings or resentment builds up resulting in bigger issues down the road.
This includes speaking up if someone is taking advantage of other colleagues or acting inappropriately in any way within the workplace environment itself.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (10) Give Credit Where Its Due
Show appreciation for other team members’ hard work by recognizing their efforts publicly, even if someone else has taken credit for it first. This will help create an atmosphere of trust, which will make it easier for everyone involved to feel express themselves without fear of backlash from any toxic personalities at work.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (11) Become Aware
Pay attention to subtle manipulations such as subtle guilt trips or playing off emotions in order to get what they want. Staying aware of these tactics can help you to safeguard yourself from the manipulation and scheming of your narcissistic colleague.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (12) Stick Together
Build alliances with other coworkers and support each other during work meetings or whenever the narcissist tries to bulldoze everyone into doing things their way. It shows that you are standing together against bullying behavior and will not be intimidated by someone who is trying to take control of the situation. Additionally, it sends a message to the narcissist that their abusive tactics are not going unnoticed or tolerated.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (13) Avoid Gossiping
Don’t gossip about team members or perpetuate negative attitudes towards colleagues. Such conversations create a negative environment, and fuel the narcissist’s sense of power. Instead, it is important to practice and promote positive attitudes towards all colleagues in order to strengthen relationships and foster a more productive work atmosphere where everyone feels respected.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (14) Keep Communication Direct and Honest
Make sure all communications remain professional when interacting with the narcissist. Avoid sugar-coating problems, but try not exaggerate them either, since doing so will create more conflict and confusion.
15 Essential Tips for Coping with Narcissists at Work – (15) Put safety first
Speak up if you witness any bullying or harassment, reporting it as per company policies and procedures. This sends a clear message to the perpetrator that their inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated, and it also creates a safe environment where everyone feels respected.
Final Thoughts on Dealing with a Narcissist at Work
These 15 tips are a great starting point for dealing with narcissists in the workplace.
It is important to remember that narcissists can be difficult to work with, but by understanding their behavior and utilizing appropriate strategies, you can develop effective ways of managing them.
Ultimately, it is essential to create an environment of respect and trust between all parties involved. By doing so, you will be able to maintain positive working relationships with coworkers and resolve conflicts more effectively.
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