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How to deal with a narcissist at work

Every office has at least one person who is a narcissist: let it be a manager, an office colleague or even a clerk. A narcissist tends to disrupt the smooth flow of operation and spoils a good office environment. This leads to less productivity, more chances of desertions and fall of company’s reputation. So it becomes important to deal with a narcissist before he starts to affect the surroundings.

Identify a narcissist

The first step to deal with any narcissist is to spot him out at work. Following are the traits a narcissist is very well known to possess:

1. He displays a lack of empathy. He thinks only of himself and faces great difficulty in placing himself in someone else’s place emotionally.

2. He acts as if entire world revolves around him. He always seeks the attention of the crowd.

3. He is always ready to exploit other people for his own benefit. In other words he does not care about anybody but himself.

4. He is jealous of accomplishments of others and becomes angry with anything that takes focus away from him.

5. He tends to be haughty and arrogant. He is convinced that his colleagues and sub ordinates are, or they should be, envious of him.


Increase communication between the hierarchies

All the best companies with a good working atmosphere has an effective protocol in regarding with communication among the people in different positions of the company’s hierarchy. A narcissist is well known to disrupt the environment, manipulate people for his personal gains and create ridges between people. So in order to take sting off the person’s actions, the best way is to effect an effective communication network. There should be a separate section for employee complaints that deals with their problems and take their complaints to the higher authorities. To encourage the employees to put in anything wrong going on in the office, his confidentiality should be respected. In this way, even if the manager himself is a narcissist, it will help people aware of him and take necessary measures to deal with him.

Take necessary and immediate measures to curb narcissism

Dealing with a narcissist should be done with patience and calmness. There are cases when the narcissist himself is not aware that he is the cause of disrupting the good work atmosphere. So it becomes responsibility on the part of the HR to make sure that the person is guided properly. The office complaints regarding a narcissist should not be ignored, as in most of the cases, companies have lost good employees because of a narcissist’s presence. The complainant should be given due attention and necessary steps should be taken immediately against the narcissist so that he does not aggravate the situation. Firing should be kept as the final resort, as it does not give positive reflection to the other employees at work.

Deal with narcissist tactfully

Curbing narcissism is not a short term process. So, in the meantime, the concerned narcissist should be dealt tactfully, so that much of the good work atmosphere can be preserved. Following steps can be followed while the narcissist is still in the stage of healing:

1. Lower your expectations:

However much a narcissist is talented, he is affected by lack of emotions and field of thought. So instead of keeping expectations as per his talents, you, as a higher official or a colleague, should lower your expectations a bit. This will help you deal with work more effectively without bringing in any sort of disappointment.

2. Avoid getting emotionally attached with a narcissist:

Narcissists are affected by the lack of attitude of sharing. In such a case, you should avoid trying to please a narcissist, as, instead of pleasing him, which is impossible to do, it will fuel his ego, making matters worse. Also, you should try not to share your personal feelings with him, as it won’t have any effect on him in a long run. Moreover, he may use these feelings against you like a typical narcissist.

3. Show how something will be to their benefit:

Narcissists are a selfish lot. They will never do something, unless they expect something significant for themselves out of it. So, instead of preaching them of selflessness, you should try to make them see their gain in the work they are to be involved in. In this way, the person will work harder to see the work done, thus helping you utilizing his potential.

4. Be a patient listener:

A narcissist loves people to listen to him, instead of listening himself. So instead of trying to stop him from speaking, you should be a patient listener. If you are not one, you should be tactful enough to divert the matters so that the concerned person does not have time to say anything. The latter approach is much difficult, as a narcissist always has something to say about everything. So, it is better if you increase your listening stamina.

Employ a psychiatrist in the office

Narcissism is more of a psychological disorder, however much the person appears to be normal. Merely complaining or ignoring will not help matters in long run, especially when the narcissist is talented. In such a case, firing him will only create a talent void in the company. So, the officials should help the person deal with narcissism, instead of isolating him. This can be done by employing a psychiatrist in the office. This psychiatrist can be in HR or like a family doctor. A person facing with narcissism should be encouraged to pay a visit to this psychiatrist so that he can come over this problem.

Dr Prem Jagyasi

Dr Prem Jagyasi

Author, Chartered Consultant, Personal Branding Expert & Global Trainer at DrPrem.com
Author of several life improving guide books – Dr Prem is an award winning strategic global leader, successful chartered consultant, personal branding expert and global trainer.  Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries to work with above 150 international organisations and to speak in global conferences. Dr Prem has published several guide books and numerous niche websites which have millions of reader across the globe.
Dr Prem Jagyasi
Dr Prem Jagyasi

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