Narcissists in the workplace.
The narcissist in your life, as most of you might already know, could be anyone, from a parent to a partner, a friend to a colleague, a boss to siblings, a neighbour or even your own children. ( some toddlers and teenagers do have traits, so if yours are showing them, it doesn’t always mean they are.) so how do you know a work colleague or a boss is a narcissist? How do you handle them, and with them being a boss or a work colleague, this means that places you eat, drink, shop and stay could have a narcissist in there. As we become more aware and more tuned into our instincts, we can often spot them relatively fast.
A narcissistic boss or work colleague can make work-life extremely difficult, and for the most part, you have to work around them. If they are extreme and your employer doesn’t take action, you might need to consider a new job.
1. Bosses will expect recognition for themselves when things go well.
2. Blame all others and dodge responsibility when things go wrong.
3. Has favourites and will change these depending on who’s the most useful at that time.
4. Takes over meetings and conversations, always trying to get the last word in.
5. Causes conflict between people, Plays people off against each other, the divide and conquer.
6. Makes unreasonable demands, or changes the game at the last minute, often not letting others know to create confusion.
7. Keeps promising new job opportunities, pay raises, promotions yet fail to deliver.
8. Takes credit for other peoples work.
Signs are similar to most narcissistic people, as they have a disorder, it’s who they are, and it’s what they do.
1. Idealisation, when you first start, or they first start, they might seem like really lovely people that really want to get to know you, they might want to socialise outside of work, they might want your help in learning about the job, they might flatter you, then the next minute for what you can find no reason, they hate you, narcissists due to cognitive distortions only see in black and white, so they either love people (in their way.), or they hate people, there is no compromise and no middle ground. They might just walk into the job, or you might. They are envious of you from day one and seek to take you down, or they might try to make friends with you. They most often will start their triangulation games to divide and conquer, smear your name and destroy you in the workplace. I’ll add a triangulation link at the end for more information. So with a work colleague or a boss, you might never be idealised; however, you most often always will be devalued at some point and eventually discarded. When you’re not doing exactly what they want when they want, they will most commonly begin to devalue you in front of others, or a boss could raise you so high in front of others, with constant flattery and attention to how good at your job you are, which when narcissists are involved often leads to employees falling out, then when they have you isolated from your co-workers they have you where they want you, so when they begin to devalue you have no one for support.
How to disarm, the best advice is just to avoid them, not always possible depending on your boss or the size of your workplace when it comes to avoiding colleagues, so when they are playing nice, enjoy it and play nice back, but tread carefully, they’ll usually only ever play nice because they want something and as soon as you say no they will throw almighty tantrums when they don’t get their way, how to handle, ignore, ignore and ignore some more. If it’s extreme, then it’s a case of looking for a new job.
2. Narcissists will do their personal best to take all the credit for the work that you have done. Narcissists are thieves, and they believe they can take whatever they want whenever they want and pass it off as their own as they are self-entitled, arrogant, and they do not care for who they walk over to get their own needs met.
How to disarm, if you can ask them about it, in-font of a boss, or other colleagues as they most likely not know the full details to explain and you can then step in and explain, keep a record of your work, also if it’s a colleague don’t tell people who you believe are their enablers what your new ideas are.
3. As they believe they are above all others and feel entitled, they often enjoy talking about themselves and exaggerating all accomplishments or lying about things they’ve achieved. They love to brag and get attention. Now reasonable people also do like to talk, but it’s usually a two-way conversation, not just the narc way. So pay attention to whether their words match their actions and achievements.
How to disarm. Leave them to it, don’t buy into it, and if others want to let them listen and learn, you go about your job and your life, let them do what they do.
4. Intimidation, they might yell, name call, project, gossip, silent treatment, play people off against each other, threaten to make life as difficult as possible for you.
How to disarm, retreat and don’t react, take notes, keep records, document with dates, witnesses, and talk to the boss or senior management if it’s the boss, take it to whoever you need, until you get the help and support you need, for smaller companies you might just have to face the fear and walk away, to start an incredible new job.
5. Insensitive to others’ needs. You can get this again with a boss or a colleague. With their lack of empathy, they have no thoughts about the needs of those around them. If you’re overworked, underpaid, stressed, family issues or are ill, to them, it’s not their problem. They will offer no help or support. They will just want to take more from you unless you are being idealised, which they are usually doing to play you off against other colleagues or to get something from you before they drop you again.
How to disarm, don’t tell them things they don’t need to know, they’re not interested and will only use them against you if you’re too ill to work, they call in sick, hold the phone away while they moan, thank them when they’ve done and then hang up, relax, rest up and get better.
6. Uses you to for their own gains, as narcissists are self-entitled and exploit people. They do use people, so they might want you to go above and beyond for them, so they’ll want you to do things for them that are above and beyond the job description, or more than you’d typically do for a work colleague, they might want you to run personal errands, they’ll be no or very little give and take, they are no extra pay or acknowledgement, any praise will be given in front of others, to make those feel envious and work harder, now some bosses or colleagues might ask these things, it will be genuine and if you were to ask them, they most likely would for you.
A colleague might ask continually to borrow money from you, rarely to never paying you back. They might ask you to go to their home and help them lift or fix something. They might always be in need of a lift to or from work. If you say no for whatever reason, you can not help out that day. You will most often get the silent treatment if you say yes. They’ll just ask for more and more, never really showing any form of gratitude, and always only using you more and more to meet their own needs. They don’t care if you have to go out of your way for them on a continued basis. All they care for is their needs are being met.
How to disarm, if it’s not in your contract and you feel uncomfortable doing something, then say no, if it’s a colleague, then they will have people to help them if they can not help themselves, yes good people might be in need of support. There is nothing wrong with doing favours for those in need. Just make sure you’re doing them for the right people. Narcissistic people are all about taking.
7. Uses you to break the rules or ethical norms. Often they will do just enough for you, so when they ask you to do something that’s not feeling right, you believe they are a genuine person. They ask with such conviction you feel guilty, or like you would be betraying them if you didn’t, they pull you in with the idolisation, twist it into your idea. Hence, you do things that you wouldn’t normally do, they often make out that in some way it’s not for them it’s all to help you, and when you do it, they will use it against you further down the line either to break a boundary, so when you stand tall and say no, they can do the “after all, I’ve done for you.” To try and make you feel guilty or to intimidate you, as they believe they are entitled, they pull you in unwittingly as an enabler until you struggle to find a way to break free. Many narcissists think they’re above the law. They will take big or small advantage of those around them. They will abuse financial expenses, often using employees somehow to do so. They will falsify legal documents to meet needs of their own or to gain extra financial resources by falsifying business earnings, either by earning less or more depending on their need at that time.
How to disarm. There’s no easy way out of these things. Make sure you safely have as much evidence as you can in case they come after you, then make a choice to accept no more and leave the job, person or business. They might hit with smear campaigns. I’ll add the smear campaign link at the bottom. Just stay out of it the best you can.
8. They will blame others for their own failures as a narcissist can not self reflect on the errors of their ways and will not accept accountability in any form or responsibility unless it serves a purpose for them. Once served, they will switch the blame again. They are highly sensitive to any form of perceived criticism. Negative feedback or constructive criticism severely damages the narcissists’ fragile ego, and they will blame employees, triangulate employees, project onto those around them. You might witness anger or forms of the silent treatment. I shall add a silent treatment link at the bottom.
How to disarm, if it’s a colleague, just stay clear of them and use the grey rock approach that I shall add at the bottom. If it’s a boss, the best advice is looking for a new job.
10. The negative emotions, Narcissists are full of negative emotions, they can, and they will do all that they can to pull others down and make them feel insecure, be it a boss triangulating employees or a colleague playing people off against each other. They do all they can to manipulate and keep people off balance. They can criticise, judge and ridicule often in subtle ways or in ways perceived to be helpful yet are toxic They like to make those around them feel inferior so that they feel dominant.
How to disarm, avoiding them is best. Observe their toxic words, don’t absorb, know your truths, retreat, rethink and only respond if you need to do so, don’t let others’ opinions of you define who you are. Trust those instincts if something doesn’t feel right. It most often isn’t.
11. Tantrum or threaten, a narcissist boss or colleague will threaten with all they have, anything they Manipulated you to do they will use against you, they will threaten court proceedings if they feel they can, again this can be subtle “I could take you.” The Covert way, or obvious “I will take you.”
Remember most things you did at the time. You believed them to be a genuine person. You did what you did with good intentions. Whether what you did was right or wrong, most often, these predictors do take advantage of other people’s good nature. Most often, if they take you to court, you might be able to gather enough evidence to let them sink themselves, so if they are threatening, gather what evidence you can, emails, texts, bank transfers and dates, keep them safe, where they’ll never be able to get to them and walk away.
12. The pity play, when the boss wants you to work longer and longer with little extra pay or will not give you a pay rise, they might have been most helpful to start. Yet, now no more, and they’ll say how they’ve got homes to run, children to feed, to try and make you feel guilty for asking, they will ask more and more from you to give less and less back, work colleagues can also ask for loans with pity plays of the children’s birthday, they’ll not be able to get to work etc., pulling on your empathy to break down your boundaries and give in to their demands.
How to disarm, know your worth, if you’re not contracted to work extra, say no, mean no, and stick to that no. If they’re a colleague and you don’t want to loan them money, don’t loan them money.
They will be gaslighting people with all the “I never said that.” Or “If only you’d had done this correctly.” Or “I never agreed to that.” They are most often always looking for that get out of jail free card.
Instincts, always listen to your instincts. If something feels off about a person, or things don’t sit right with you, no matter who they are, those instincts are usually right and trying to warn you, listen to them, either avoid the people, avoid the places, change jobs, we often get ourselves caught up in the cycle through fear We could be wrong or fear of change, safely step through that fear, change that thing and it can change everything for you.
You can help other people who will either inspire you or drain you. If they drain you, it’s time to walk away. You can not change other people, especially those with a disorder. It’s who they are, and unless they can recognise and take action to change, they will continue the cycle with you or with someone else. No one deserves to be abused. Everyone deserves to make a choice to walk away.
You did not cause it, and you can not change it. It’s who they are. It’s a tough enough job changing ourselves and our own life patterns, people can only ever change themselves, yes, with helpful guidance and support, but manipulative people only ever do this temporarily. We all make mistakes and errors in judgment that are a part of life, life’s lessons and how we learn, yet mistakes repeated more than once is a decision, whether that’s someone else’s decision because they don’t feel guilty, empathy or remorse and see no need to change, or ours through fear or regret or what if we are wrong about them, we should stand by and help them. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Good people, yes, those who rattle your anxiety, your instincts, your inner peace, no walk away, set yourself free, and create a much happier, more peaceful life for you.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with Click here for BetterHelp. (Sponsored.) Where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
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