So far we have covered the signs and symptoms of narcissism, this week we will look more in depth at what to do and how to deal with the narcissist in your life, whatever your relationship to them.
Whilst researching narcissism I discovered a fabulous article in The Huffington Post by Jeffrey Kluger, the author of ‘The Narcissist Next Door: Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in Your Bed — in Your World’. Below are some useful tips for workplace narcissists, friends and family members that I gleamed from the article and some of my own tips on partners that will ensure you successfully avoid the minefields narcissists create, enabling you to deal with them more strategically and making your interaction with them that little bit easier.
When your boss is a narcissist
It’s highly likely that either you or someone you know will have had to deal with a boss who’s a narcissist at some point. Power is to narcissists what pollen is to bees and they gravitate to positions of authority faster than you can blink. Their charismatic charm, manipulative tactics and ability to make decisions autonomously usually allow them to climb up the career ladder unimpeded and as a result the majority of bosses out there are, well, narcissists.
But what can you do if you’re one of the unlucky sods who reports to these credit grabbing, blaming, lying and arrogant narcissists at work? Well, fortunately there are a few things you can do should you need to stay in the job and pay the bills.
Always pitch a work idea to your boss by either copying in someone else on the email or suggesting it in a group environment – that way the credit remains yours.
If you suspect your boss is a narcissist but he hasn’t personally targeted you in a negative way (this approach is a little controversial as it does feed into their narcissism and has the potential to back fire in the long run) but feeding their ego’s by being complementary when they do something well usually puts you at the top of their good books.
If you are being bullied it is essential that you record and report all incidents to human resources.
If you feel you are constantly being singled out and bullied by your narcissistic boss, I would encourage you to skip these tips and get straight to seeking out other work opportunities!
When your co worker is a narcissist
The same rules apply as when working with a boss who is a narcissist but there are a few additional points which will stand you in good stead. Firstly, if working in a team, the typical narcissist may have some fantastic contributions during brainstorming or strategy sessions (primarily because this is when they can shine and get the credit).
However, there is a big tendency for the narcissist to shirk off responsibility and rely on the hard work of others when the work in question is behind the scenes and less noticeable, after all, the narcissist wants the credit, not the blood, sweat and tears that go with it. Avoid this by making a record of what everyone has contributed and make the narcissist in question aware that such a record is being kept.
When your friend is a narcissist
This is a tricky one. Narcissistic friends can be fun, really fun. They often invite you out to good parties, crack funny jokes, tell entertaining stories and exude an air of confidence (albeit false) that is infectious. The difficulty comes when the friendship transitions from social acquaintance to a close friend.
Often people can go for years without realizing their friend is a narcissist (check out the tell tale signs in part one of this series) until something happens and their inner character is revealed. With friends the first sign that you may be dealing with a narcissist is when their behavior suggests that they consider their needs more important than yours. If any of your friends regularly meet their own needs at the cost of hurting you in the process, alarm bells should be ringing.
If your friend does appear to be a narcissist on the more slight end of the spectrum, the best thing you can do (assuming they hurt you infrequently and you don’t want to give up the friendship) is to acknowledge and identify in what situations their behavior is poor and then to avoid those situations – remember not all narcissists are the same and some exhibiting only slight narcissistic tendencies have many good qualities to bring to a friendship.
Of course, if they continuously hurt you in an indiscriminate fashion and show little regard for you almost all of the time, you might want to start thinking how you are benefitting from the friendship. If you find that you aren’t and yet still want to preserve the friendship, examine why you want to continue in the friendship and question whether there is an underlying self-esteem issue you could work on (please read my Tiny Buddha article on self-esteem titled ‘Learning to Love Yourself; 3 Steps to Instantly Boost Self-Esteem’). I would encourage anyone who is being constantly belittled and hurt by their friend to honestly assess whether the friendship has become toxic and consider ending the friendship if it has.
Stay tuned – next week we will look at what to do when your partner is a narcissist.
Is your boss, co worker or friend a narcissist? How do they typically treat you? Are you now more confident you can deal with them more effectively? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community, we’d love to hear from you.
Narcissism by Alexander Lowen (a self-help book for the recovering narcissist)