The Narcissist in the Workplace: Tips for Working with a Narcissist

Sometime in your career, you will run into a boss or co-worker who is so difficult, you will feel hopeless about ever finding a way to work with that person. That individual may well have a narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic personality is characterized by an unrealistic or inflated sense of self-importance, an inability to see the viewpoint of others, and hypersensitivity to criticism. Narcissists are preoccupied with grandiose fantasies and unrealistic plans. They tend to be bullies and often resort to verbal and emotional abuse. They exploit people and then thrust them aside. Narcissists will have no empathy and will regard their co-workers as mere instrument, objects, or tools. However, they will also need their co-workers or underlings to be their sources of adulation, affirmation, as well as someone who can be used for potential benefits (such as taking credit for your work and so on). If you work with or under a narcissist, your work life might be described as a living hell.

Workplace narcissists seethe with anger and resentment underneath their public facade. They are also extremely envious; they will destroy what they perceive to be the sources of their constant frustration such as a popular co-worker, a successful boss, or a skilled employee. Narcissists crave constant attention and will go to great lengths to secure it – including by engineering situations that place them at the center. They are immature, constantly complain, and criticize everyone and everything. They are intrusive and invasive in the workplace. They firmly believe in their own power and superior insight. They feel entitled to special treatment and are convinced that they are above the laws, including the rules of their place of employment. Narcissists can be very disruptive and are poor team members; they seldom collaborate with others without being quarrelsome. They are control freaks and feel the compulsive urge to interfere and micromanage everything as well as overrule others.

Unfortunately, Western society and culture are narcissistic. Narcissistic behaviors have long been the norm. The fundamentally narcissistic traits of individualism, competitiveness, and unbridled ambition are the foundation of certain versions of capitalism. Thus, certain forms of abuse and bullying actually are tolerated as a basic part of the myth of today’s corporations. Narcissistic bosses have been idolized.

In many companies, managers and executives probably demonstrate more narcissistic tendencies than others do, but in varying degrees. For instance, the early Steve Jobs and Oracle’s Larry Ellison were the epitome of corporate narcissism. But Bill Gates and Warren Buffet exhibit hardly any traits at all.


  • Arrogant and self-centered, they expect special treatment and privileges.
  • They can be charismatic, articulate and funny-especially in the beginning or if they want something from you.
  • They are likely to disrespect boundaries and the privacy of others.
  • They can be patronizing and critical of others but unwilling or unable to accept criticism or disagreement themselves.
  • Likely to be anxiety-stricken or paranoid, they may exhibit violent, rage-like reactions when they can’t control a situation or their behaviors have been exposed.
  • They are apt to set others up for failure or pit co-workers against one another.
  • They can be cruel and abusive to some co-workers, often targeting one person at a time until he quits.
  • They may need an ongoing “narcissist supply” of people who they can easily manipulate and who will do whatever they suggest — including targeting a co-worker — without question.
  • They are often charming and act innocent in front of managers.

Who can Work with a Narcissist?

Certain personalities mesh well with narcissistic people in the workplace. For instance, someone with a Dependent Personality Disorder, or a submissive person whose expectations are low and are willing to absorb abuse would survive with a narcissist, possibly even thrive in such an environment. But the majority of people in the workforce are likely to suffer ill-health effects, have conflicts with the narcissist, or end up being fired, reassigned or demoted. The narcissistic bully frequently gets his way: he gets promoted, the ideas he stole from someone else become corporate policy, and his misconduct is tolerated. This is due, in part, because narcissists are excellent liars with considerable acting skills – upper management believes them, at least initially, and believes that their abilities are too valuable to lose.

Deciding whether or not to continue to work with someone who is a narcissist also depends on whether the narcissistic bully represents the culture of the workplace or if he is an isolated case. Regrettably, often abusive behaviors in a person’s office or shop floor are merely a microcosm of pervasive bad behavior which permeates the entire corporate hierarchy, from top management to the bottom rung of employment. Bullies seldom dare to express their behavior in defiance of the prevailing culture because if they did go against the grain of their place of employment, they would lose their jobs. Typically, narcissists join already narcissistic companies and fit right in a toxic workplace, a noxious atmosphere, and an already abusive management. If one is not willing to succumb to these customs and lack of ethics in the workplace, there isn’t a whole lot one can do except resign and find another job.

Working in an environment with a narcissist is a dismal landscape indeed. If you cannot leave the job or get reassigned, there are ways to survive without “kissing up” to the narcissist and always being vigilant about what you say and how you say it:

Tips for Working with a Narcissist

  • Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him
  • Never offer him any intimacy or personal information
  • Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on)
  • Never remind him of life ‘out there’ and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity. You can aggrandize even your office supplies, the most mundane thing conceivable by saying: “These are the BEST art materials ANY workplace is going to have”, “We get them EXCLUSIVELY”, etc.;
  • Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on the narcissist’s self-image, power, superior judgment, infinite awareness or insight, skills, capabilities,or professional record. Bad sentences start with: “I think you overlooked … made a mistake here … you don’t know … do you know … you were not here yesterday so … you cannot … you should … (interpreted as rude imposition, narcissists react very badly to perceived restrictions placed on their freedom) … I (never mention the fact that you are a separate, independent entity, narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves)…” You get the idea.


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51 Responses to “The Narcissist in the Workplace: Tips for Working with a Narcissist”

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  1. Jane Doe says:

    So, you say “there are ways to survive without “kissing up” to the narcissist” and then you give us instructions to do just that – kiss up to him?

    Sorry – seen to many people enable these folks. That is all kissing up to them does – enable them. Never solves anything long term. Leave if they have power, ignore if they don’t. If you can’t ignore them, try to stay invisible to them as much as possible, and treat them like they are invisible.

    • RL says:

      Thank you Jane. I read you loud and clear and I share your thoughts and the thoughts of T.Rene as well. I am stuck with someone just like that > A narcissist < he is also in a position of seniority. unfortunately I can only ignore him so much but must communicate with him in relation to our job service responsibilities within our team. I have been doing exactly the opposite to what is suggested. Stand up to him and demand respect and took it right to the top demanding that Management adhere to and enforce respectful behaviour in the workplace. fortunately I have a good Manager who listens and tries to resolve his hostile behaviour when ever I have an opinion or challenge him where he is lacking empathy for our customers whom we as a team are responsible for. I refuse to join his Gravy Train with damaged wheels. I have my work ethics to fulfil and refuse to stoop down to his level. I am unable to find another job because of times as they are these days in finding a Job as well as my age of 59 years. I will avoid him at all costs, speak or consult with him only when I need to and there is no social interaction I am interested in either. My Manager is addressing this behavioural issue and has arranged for a councillor to educate the whole unit on appropriate communication e.t.c. At least my Manager is willing to address it. He also has to because the second stage is HR investigation being the next step. In the Public sector at least we have this going for us. In the private sector it must be more difficult. I hear your pain. You are not alone….

    • Christina says:

      I’m going through the same thing at work, but she’s on methadone. I’m a really sensitive person so it was harder to learn to deal with it. It’s not your fault, they make you feel like your the bad person. It’s just yourself adjusting to deal with these people. I have learned that this person, I work with, is just making me a stronger person. Avoid them at all costs, but stand up for yourself when they cut you down. And talk to someone at the top of the chain of command, to ensure your safety if something does go wrong. Keep a journal if possible.

    • Anastasia says:

      It’s a bit different. There is no I, Me, My, or You. There is no individual. If the email bounced either some vague IT person got it wrong or the system messed up. Not a human you can pin. If something went RIGHT it’s the company or policy etc that succeeded not any person.

      Unfortunately not everyone has the option of just leaving.

  2. T Rene says:

    What a disappointing article. It describes a narcissistic coworker to a tee, then suggests that we feed into their B.S. You are helping narcissists abuse others, and encouraging the rest of us to be victims.

    • colleen crowl says:

      Codependency only feeds them until your left a shell and unable to fight back. I’m at that stage with a coworker and now have to face management in regards to her lies. I’m sure I’ll look like the one hurting her.

    • Stephanie B. says:

      Yes, but what are the options?
      1) Constant workplace tension as you refuse to submit to their crap.
      2) Find another job.
      3) Pretend to worship him/her, too.

      The last thing these people want is someone taking the blinders off. By not submitting to their game, they view you as the enemy. They will do anything to not have to see themselves as average. I don’t have the energy to go head to head with this. I would rather take options 2 or 3.

  3. A says:

    I agree. Why should you bow to an equal because of their narcissistic behaviours. I really would like strategy of how to overcome the narcissists beliefs of interpretation of expectations in the workplace.

  4. Lucy says:

    Oh my gosh, this fits my co-worker to a tee. I am at my wits end and contiplating leaving a job I love just because of this horrible person. She is a bully and a liar. She is so abusive it’s upsetting. Argh! She keeps complaining how she hates this company and yet she is still here!

    • kitten says:

      I know exactly how you feel Lucy. I’m probably on my last legs myself, and I love my job – can’t handle working with this woman and her offsider who is just as bad. Talk about control freak!!! I don’t know what to do. Management love her and she’s such a liar, and if she doesn’t like you or you show her up in her work by doing a better job than her you may as well go jump off the harbour bridge. She’s awful. If you learn any good tips on how to manage people like her, apart from sucking up (not a good thing) let me know. Otherwise just know there are other workers out there who work with the type of person.

      • JF says:

        I’m there with you, I work with such a women that everyday is a LIVING HELL! She is awful and mean and demeaning, controlling, VERY VERY VERY difficult to work with. She’s been at the job for 15 years and 2 years away from retirement, I’ve worked with her for 4 years and try to ignore her and brush her off but lately i feel i’m becoming bitter and that makes me sad. I dont know if I can work 2 more years with her toxic personality!

        • PL says:

          OMG…I can’t believe I found this site, and that there are other people dealing with people like this..I can so relate to what you are saying JF, I too feel that my personality is changing because of this person, and I don’t like it. It has literally taken me months and months to come to this point of actually thinking that maybe the issues I have with this co-worker are not my fault at all. So I began thinking and analysing the behaviour I have been witnessing and I initially thought Bi Polar, but the more research I did, the more obvious it became…NPD. After reading the posts on this site, I can’t believe that I have been ‘feeding’ this behaviour for so long, believing that I will get better at my job, and then she will stop picking at me…now I know that will never happen. I am obviously her latest victim..(the last poor lady is still on stress leave, and the narc still talks nastily about her). The last couple of weeks have been ridiculously uncomfortable and I find myself on the verge of tears so often. I am not that type of person. I am strong and confident in my abilities (usually), and I enjoy people, but this person has just worn me down to this point, and I hate myself for allowing this to happen. But at the same time, I am thankful that I have sunk so low that I began to think differently and came to this realisation. I now know what I am dealing with, and while I don’t believe it will be easy, I am determined not to give up a job that I love because of this person’s issues. I can’t believe that I actually feel as if a great weight has been lifted because I am not the ‘baddie’ here and I will not be treated as such. Good guys do win, and we will all be winners, in this ridiculous game we are forced to play.

      • Anthony says:

        These people are often VERY easily dealt with. Tell them, right to their face, that they are suffering from NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), and then immediately walk away. Then e-mail them a link to Wikipedia’s definition of NPD, along with cc’ing Human Resources, and let everything take its course.

        I’ve done this several times, and within a couple of weeks they were often fired, or quit.

    • laura luckett says:

      I was forced out after 6 years and now im in the process of filing bankruptcy….because the OWNER was the narcissist..i had done nothing to deserve my demotion, and was blind sided ….i expected to work there until i retired, in the 6 years of my employment, all we ever heard was how terrible we were , what a bunch of losers,and how we could hand in a sales sheet without a certain amount sales on it and think we deserve a paycheck. It was awful i , now i am seeing a therapist and take medication ( which i cant afford now) i worked my butte off for HIS company, there was no reason whatsoever for what he did to me …..i am struggling just to keep the electric on….i only wish i had a GOOD LAWER because there is so much bull…. Going on over there and for some reason he seems untouchable

  5. cindy says:

    The rest of the world, who does have empathy, respect, love for others, should not have to bow down to a narcissist. The narcissist needs an attitude adjustment. If it was only possible to give them a good a*s-kicking without going to jail because that would cure a lot of their crap!

  6. will says:

    I have a fellow manager who is like this. The best thing to do is to confront them head on and win your battles. Fist time this person ever exhibited behavior to me like this I pulled him aside (As his subordinate) and set the expectation that it was unacceptable. We have butted heads occasionally, but now have a mutual respect. He is terrible to other workers though. My other piece of advice is make friends with his boss. Do extra favors, bring things to there attention that are important. Show the boss that anything they here from this person is incorrect. Often the Boss secretly does not like the person as much as you would think. Never Never, be submissive, you will permanently open the door to abuse. Stand your ground. Set the expectations.

    • Pat says:

      I stood my ground with my coworker. It worked. There is a mutual respect between us now even though I know I mean nothing to her except for what I can do for her to feed her narcissist needs, but I have drawn boundaries, let limits, do not jump through her hoops, and she respects that. Hopefully, she will not bother me too much if I don’t feed into the need.

    • sophia says:

      Great advice! These people do what they do because of people who are submissive ( or secretly wish they’ll be so bold like these sickos). Stand your ground. Set the expectations! YES!!!!!!!!!!

    • KLB says:

      Never be submissive? This is my boss? At first I stood up, tsljed to her as if she was a reasonable person, tried to clarify cconfluctin demands. That got me a disciplinary talk and mark against my record. So I played submissive, low key. Still no end to the picking and criticism . (Interestingly the character flaws she faulted me for described herself to a T.
      I ended up getting a needs improvement on following policies. In one sentence she complained that I was resistant and also agreed with her. ???

  7. Stella says:

    I have worked with one for over 15 years. If you bow down to them as the article discusses they will suck the life out of you. They literally have no boundaries and see you as an extension of themselves, meaning you are there to serve them. Underneath that all, they are frightened little children. You absolutely need to stand up to them because that causes them to back down. If they smell weakness they will go after you but if they sense power they will cower down. If they are on the same level as you absolutely become close with the higher ups. All of my higher ups have seen through this person and avoid him like the plague. It is not a fair situation. Most of the blogs tell you to run like hell if you have to deal with one but when you work with one you have no choice. Do not tell them anything personal because they gather personal info to have power of you. Keep conversations brief and to the point. If you really want to defeat one, give them no attention. If they call you, talk for a few minutes and then have to go for a meeting, another call etc. Avoid them at all costs.

    • RL says:

      That is exactly my reaction to the narcissist I have in our team. I stand up to him, he hates it, tries to run me down or anyone else who stands up to him. Instead I made complaints about him, had meetings with my Manager on several occasions. He genuinely tries to resolve this issue. Each time I stand up to this psychopath he backs off like a little child and leaves me alone because he can not bear me challenging him again too soon. Of course he always cries out that I am the one disrespecting him. anything to side track the real issue. That is just their style.
      It had a positive impact for some time until the next flare up. There had been several times where he showed aggression towards me and each time I would front him and also make my grievance to my Manager. Thankfully he is as impartial as he can be and does try to resolve it. My last meeting has put this Nut on notice. I made it very clear at the meeting that I will not tolerate his abusive behaviour. They know I mean business and there is no backing off from me. I have rights and that is > I do not come to a workplace to be abused. Result is? Management is pursuing this further on my behalf and are arranging a councillor to educate him as well as the whole Team on appropriate communication in the workplace. Will it fix it? lets wait and see > I have a lot to loose and I be damned if I let this Nut succeed.

  8. Stella says:

    Also, do not leave the job because of this person. That just makes them win. There are many websites and books on how to handle these personalities. I went to see a shrink who gave me a lot of strong tools on handling this person on a day to day basis. Yes it is ridiculous to have to do this because of one person but for me it was necessary. I was not going to leave the job that I have worked at for so many years. I avoid the narcissist at all costs. When I have to meet with him, I am extremely professional and curt. I say nothing personal and semi blow him off. This drives him nuts. He wants power over me so badly but cant have it. Remember these are also the most miserable people you will meet. You have a life they don’t. They have no friends and are horrible at relationships. Good luck!

    • Paul says:

      This is so true. I am literally going mental because of this colleague. He is the most insidious, nasty, negative person I have ever had the misfortune to meet.
      I love my job and this 40 something singleton who lives with his mother and burns through 5-6 relationships a year, really gets on my goat.

  9. Alplily says:

    I work in a great nonprofit where everyone gets along well and we all do our best to support one another and act like a team. Except that a classic narcissist runs one department / division. She fits this description completely. All of the articles I have read on this phenomenon indicate that the rest of us should just stay out of their way and do their bidding–kiss up to them. I’d rather our executive director handle the problem and if necessary fire them. After all, the rest of the team is not doing anything wrong and we are regularly getting beaten up by the narc. It is exhausting, painful, and detrimental to productivity, morale, etc. Why is it so difficult for managers to see what is happening and deal with it? Such behavior in other staffers would generally be immediately disciplined.

  10. mar2343 says:

    Alplily, there is an unwritten code at work that narcs are smarter, stronger, and that is the basis for capitalism in the U.S. that strong = narcissist = productivity but it’s not true. Narcs are detrimental to any office environment, cause low office morale, low productivity, excessive absences, and quittings. I blame the good ole U.S. of A. for this fallacy that bullies will make stronger companies and will be good for the economy by being tough and strong. The same issue is in schools as well. Once we get rid of this thinking, we will be rid of narcs at work and bullies at school.

    • RL says:

      It’s a wworld wide thing. We have the same issues here in Australia. Bullies are a protected species and yet it is dramatized that bullying will not be tolerated. What a laugh!! Though it is not funny at all because I was bullied for years, finaly had enough and took it all the way and made the public service take responsibility for their inactions. of course they opted to work with the Bully to cover their own incompetence in enforcing the NO Bully Policy.

  11. nyceaglescout says:

    In the last 15 years I have dealt with 4 narcissists on separate occasions. They were all self-proclaimed “visionaries.” The first was in grade school, when a kid organized all the bullies in the school- between 60-80 of them- so he could better control them. At the same time, he built a change coalition around his vision with an anti-bullying movement. Thus, the more pain inflicted, the more his movement grew… a disgrace to the No Bully Policy.

    More recently, as an Executive in NYC, I found myself repeatedly at ends with the narcissistic executive on the board. He threatened to fire one of the receptionists, on grounds of insubordination. What he wanted her to do was learn ESP and read his mind. This way she knew what needed to be done and would get it done so that he could focus on company growth.

    Among this executive’s portfolio of absurdities, he hired one particular employee on salary, but then also gave said employee hourly wage and overtime. Thus, the employee could leave at 3pm but still be paid until 5. (I knew the employee well and we got along cordially, yet this infuriated the CFO, and also stressed out the employee, who felt his job security threatened.) However, the executive dismissed any allegations of wrongdoing or worries. “It is what it is,” he said infamously. (The reason for his doing this was that the said employee “fit into his vision of growth”.)

    After finally occluding his vision of expansion into areas of the business that were performing unsatisfactory for the last time- a debacle that lasted 2 years and which the CEO supported my stance- the executive accused me of malicious wrongdoing and twisted several arms to have me terminated. However, my attorney disagreed with that decision by clear show of evidence, and subsequently the company was forced to settle.

  12. Emily says:

    I work with someone just like this article describes. Even to the point of them targeting one colleague at a time till they quit – I’m the latest one being targeted. This person, let’s call her Sue, is a control freak, believes her knowledge is greater than even experts in the company, treats others in one of two ways – as tools or enemies, is a bully and somehow uses charm to make the very people she’s destroying worship her at her feet. For example, she’ll pit people against each other but then if she comes back from a few days off, other colleagues gather round her like she’s a rock star and they’re dying for even an ounce of her attention. The efforts she goes to in order to set up intricate situations just to trap me and make me look bad would make her a genius if she wasn’t so evil. She’ll attack me, then give minutes later she will turn around, smile sweetly and say something to me, almost like a freakish gloat. The last colleague she did this to had many more years experience than her but couldn’t handle her constant games. I’m now too trying to leave a job I love because Sue just makes me so depressed and I know she’s trying to discredit me into being fired. At one point I was so depressed I didn’t want to live, was prescribed anti-depressants and have been booked in to see a psychologist. The sad part is management think she’s the best thing they’ve ever had. She isn’t even that good at her job, but she makes up for that in manipulation. She’ll end up being promoted until she’s a boss herself and will make a whole lot more people suffer. She’s turned me from a respected higher up in the company to a laughing stock who is looked down on. I don’t think appeasing these people is right. All it does is let them think they have won and fuel their egos even more. I don’t really know what the answer is.

    • Ann says:

      So Sorry Emily .. What this chick is doing to you.. “Gas lighting” she won’t stop. If you do choose to leave. She will find her next victim. Cause that’s what these vile evil people do. And they can’t be treated, because they don’t believe they have a problem to begin with, so there is nothing to fix.. It took me a long time to figure it out and make my choice. since I have, I feel so much better. I am leaving my job. Sometimes your sense of well being trumps over the career.

      Be strong.

    • Stephanie B. says:

      “She isn’t even that good at her job, but she makes up for that in manipulation.”

      I have this same situation. The boss loves this woman, but I know she isn’t good at her job. She spends hours behind closed doors gossiping about her co-workers. Our boss ignores the situation; she just refuses to see what a problem this is for the organization.

      Behind every narcissist is some enabler allowing this bad behavior.

  13. Ann says:

    It is incredible there are so many familiar stories here.. I am leaving a job of almost 8 years greatly in part of a narcisstic co worker who has gas lighted me and others. One example of many…This person deliberately withheld information on a former co worker’s fathers passing and funeral information from several of us at work that really respected and admired.

    The part of this article where the narcissist thrives in an already existing toxic environment, really struck a cord with me. However, I am going with the consensus on the feedback here. I will standup for myself. I have a sense of self and will not rollover, and it was caused conflict..and now I finally know when it’s time to say:”when”. This woman will continue to poison every new employee, and the business will continue to have huge turn over, and management will continue to be clueless.. But I will be happy again….

  14. BeenThere says:

    I was ousted from a job when my division downsized, and my boss kept the narcissist. I had stuck it out for years, hoping that my numbers and the good will of others would be enough to keep me in good stead, but you can’t fight against a dishonest a$$-kissing backstabber that way and win. After I left, it became clear that he wasn’t as good as he’d convinced himself and others that he was, but as far as I’m concerned my old boss deserved what she got. A company needs people-smart people at the top, who can see through the BS narcissists defend themselves with. If the top brass are oblivious, then GO! Find a new job ASAP! Don’t wait for the axe to fall!

  15. Working In Hell says:

    Can you physically beat the narcissist out of someone? That seems like the only possible answer to this one, but perhaps that shines a light on my own mental/rage problems….

  16. NotUAgainUgh says:

    I work with a colleague and everything is about him and how fabulous he is in every way. He is negative and treats me like his therapist, tossing me away when he is finished talking at me. When I ignore him, he follows me or gets even more into my personal space. I am so drained by him at work. I can’t escape him. I did not sign up for tickets to his personal show and I can’t leave his egotistical studio. Help!

  17. kit says:

    Oh! You have to see two personalities get together. Provided you haven’t already. I have and its almost laughable. Two narcs engrossed in competitive conversation. That was part of my experience at a job I worked. Just a strange group of people. Now I know more about these NPDs, their flying monkeys and just how manipulative they are. Competitive, envious. The list reads seven deadly sins plus three more. But thus IS a disorder and no matter how bad we want to beat them up, we have to empower ourselves and learn to maneuver them while running home and hitting the job boards to escape as soon as possible. If we don’t get out in time, heal then you have to try to forgive them for your own good.

  18. Lynne says:

    I’m in this hole too! My supervisor is a 47 year old guy who acts like a toddler, is sneaky, insecure, manipulative and disrespectful of me. I’m a 52 year old woman. There is also a 60 year old man who answers to the creep in question. For him he has total respect and backs down when he doesn’t take his crap. But if I stand my ground, he sulks for MONTHS, withholds work related information from me, denies me a new printer when it was broken, pre-plans shouting attacks on me by taking me into the ultra private and sound proof room, etc. I have reported this all to upper management but they just hold meetings with us telling us to work it out amongst ourselves. No help! They all think he’s the cats meow because he bends over backwards and sucks up to them. He cannot stand up to men though. So he vents all his frustration on me because I am easy going. I also find all his mistakes and point them out to him so he can fix them. But then he takes the credit for it. He just sucks donkey snot. I am quitting tomorrow.

  19. sarah says:

    I have enjoyed reading these blogs and I am sure responding will be cathartic in some way. I had been with a team doing a job I was passionate about and good at both on clinical and spiritual level (real heart stuff). The job relates to health service – which one equates with supporting and caring environments – not torture chambers for narcissistic destruction. i had undertaken additional studies and really developed by skills and was known as one very good and caring worker with contemporary knowledge and passion. When I left people would ring the service to see if they could see me as they valued my work. The reason i left was due to a narcissist – one I had worked with in my early 20s and not really as closely as I did more recently. I was given a senior role (right under her wing and also under her constant surveillance and close to her desk where she could keep her eye on my every move. I believe i probably accidently fed her narcisstic suppply initially .Things started changing when I noticed her treatment of other staff, targeting behaviours, etc plus totally intrusive and bullying comments to staff including myself. I note I was often subjected to these along with put downs where she would close the door of her office and her face would change into something quite scary while she stood over me. I was gaslighted, not given information or credit for me work.I also noticed thank you emails from my executive boss directed straight to her when I had done the work. The challenge really began when I stood up for a co-worker who was being poorly treated against a person who was also strongly feeding her narcissistic supply, so in favor. I was berated publicly in front of co-workers more than once and intolerably in this situation. I started noting her empathic attempts were nothing more than trying to make me feel I was not coping and also challenged his.When my father in law died she commented on how down I looked and did not like the response that “this was quite a normal response to a loved one’s death”. Only someone with empathy could understand that. She knew I could see her now. Then the attacks came. About my decisions, about my “inapporpriateness” (when I didn’t agree with her decisions. So I complained – all the way to the top. The resulting apology was not genuine with veiled threats about taking another position or having to increase my more load more if I didn’t. I was then performance management for not agreeing with her and on two tiny manufactured issues. Yes, nasty letter. formal meeting. terror. the lot. My concerns were not taken seriously enough (toxic culture which supports movers and shapers) Then came the anxiety and the panic which made me incapable of work at all followed by a brain haemorrhage which I believe was the direct result of the stress. I am lucky to be alive and am trying to move forward now. I occasionally read up now on narcissism to I don’t get complacent. I know know thanks to my beautiful colleagues that about 15 people have left the service – some voluntary redundancies, some resignations for bullying behaviours, one for discrimation (so I am now convinced i AM NOT THE CRAZY ONE whcih she actually pointed out to me to discredit me. The anxiety and panic were too activate my fight and flight response which i eventually had but no course but to follow) She now has lawyers coming from every direction from various staff – discrimination, fair work australia and workcover. She will eventually have to answer to her harms. She met a team of non people pleasers. And if nothing more happens than she doubts herself more than will be enough. I will never work for someone like this again. I would rather go to the poor box and be healthy and enjoy lifee. She stole a year from me which I can never get back. And I still believe the world is 75 percent good, only 25 percent bad. But I will know from the perfect painted nails (yes she had these), the self obsession (I even got an email from a beauty salon where she was having work done demanding I go over – in work time mind you – and see her there?? – people pleaser in me did! That was early days. Never again. The gaslighting, the not believing in myself. She has given me the ultimate gift – I can not spot people like her and I will never allow it to happen again. What greater gift could I have. I never would have explored narcissism in such greater detail and discovered there has been another one in my personal life for years who also needed to go. So I am free.

  20. Lynn says:

    The malignant NPD is a pathological liar without true empathy or a conscience. They lie through falsification, distortion and omission. If the narcissist is your boss, you either suck it up or leave. As your boss, they have channels of communication and protection afforded them that you as an employee do not. HR will not help you. HR will instead help protect the company and your narcissistic boss against you.

    A fish stinks from the head. My company had a complete change in management, starting with the CEO, who gathered people around him he preferred after firing those who were under him. Those he preferred are like him, and they’ve kept or hired new employees who are like them.

    A malignant narcissist boss is there because s/he knows how to handle their malignant narcissist boss who knows how to handle their malignant narcissist boss. Narcissistic personality disorder is a cancer that spreads like wildfire in the California dessert during a drought when it infects from the top down.

    Life is short. Get out. Or, learn to suck it up or turn into an absolutely gray uninteresting personality that fades into the background and is completely devoid of narcissistic supply (either good or bad). That is the reality as much as I hate it.

  21. francis Chaston says:

    The advice given in the article is very disappointing as the commentary indicates, feeds into their narcissism.
    One thing people have to realise about narcissists, you can never please them and at the end of the day it is always about them. As the saying goes “Never give a sucker an even break” and that is the motto which narcissists live by.
    I) I am a great believer in being assertive. That means standing up for yourself when the occasion arises.
    ii) Keep the conversation as short and concise as possible when interacting with a narcissistic boss or colleague.
    iii) Be professional at all times around them and never get into small talk.
    iv) Avoid them whenever possible if possible without making it too obvious.
    v) Avoid the habit of gossiping about them to your colleagues but rather do your venting outside of work as it could easily come back to bite you. Remember Narcissists are normally very “street savvy” and on the paranoid and sensitive side so will pick it gossip very quickly particularly if it is about them.
    vi) If necessary, keep a daily diary of events that occur.
    vii) Whilst not allowing being distracted by your job, keep a close observation of the narcissist. You will find they do things by intention and not by chance and you will find they tend to spend a lot of their time around select individuals whom they perceive as important. Observe how they interact with the people of importance and then observe how they treat others. They are acutely aware of the “top dogs”. You will also note the “karma” on the unit. Whenever there is a narcissistic Manager around, there will always be a tension and an uneasiness on the floor.
    viii) If abused by them don’t show any emotion as it feeds into their narcissistic and pathological side of their perverse personalities and are more likely to repeat their abusive behaviour towards you.
    ix) Narcissists love to talk about themselves and their achievements. Remember it is always about them. Listen to what they say but say nothing in return. Again keep the conversation short and be professional as possible at all times.
    x) Narcissists gain a lot of satisfaction in making other people look stupid. Public humiliation is the order of the day for them. So give your narcissistic colleague or boss as little as possible to criticize you. So as the saying goes. “watch your back” around them.

    • KH says:

      I have found similar strategies very useful in dealing with a narcissist at work. She used to be quite a close friend and I put up with her bullying ways for some time before it all went bad. Now that I can see she is narcissistic it is easier to cope. I have distanced myself from her, cut off all social contact and limit my interaction at work to the minimum necessary. It has helped me a lot, but I hate seeing her treat others the same way. I agree with practically all the other commentators – don’t flatter these people too much, you just feed them. I give moderate praise if it is clearly due, and leave it at that, but on the other hand I don’t go picking fights with her either, as frankly life is too short.

      If you’ve recognised the narcissist, you’re part of the way to dealing with it.

    • Marko says:

      This is good advice – and is exactly what I am doing. They can never change – so it is up to you to do everything to protect yourself. This is me at work now – clock in, clock out. Do what I have to do and pick up the check at the end of the month. Sure they make your life miserable – but you get to leave at the end of the work day – they have to live with themselves 24/7. Imagine what a sad life it must be to be on of them.

  22. Ellen says:

    Reading this article and all the responses has been incredibly helpful. I feel for everyone and also feel validated that the issues I was dealing with (both the president of my company and a co-worker I have to work closely with are in this category) are real. In my case, the narcissism and managerial incompetence meant that I had next to nothing to do at my job. I have quit. I hope the company realizes that when a skilled, smart, hard working individual chooses NO job over this job, something is wrong.

  23. Kay says:

    Like so many have already stated, the advice in the article is disappointing. The commentary is great though. Love it, thanks to all.

    I am currently dealing with a Narcissist and a weak manager. I’ve dealt with a Narcissist in my personal life recently so I was familiar with the behaviour. One colleague has already left the company and I’m on the job hunt now. Since that departure another, strong manager has been introduced. The interesting observation is the N will still visit the weak manager frequently with complaints, requests etc but never the strong manager.

  24. myrna says:

    The best way to deal with a narcissist is to get away from the person (whether it’s on the job) or a friendship.
    It will drain you. Case closed

  25. johnxw says:

    Hi I’ve read all of the above and totally agree that an individual should not shy away from this, by that I also mean don’t go looking for it either, but if it’s your boss and you show any weakness, you WILL be one of his / her targets and it will find you anyway if you show any kind of weakness….. loads of stories to tell if you wanted to read them all, but I’ll stick with just this one…

    About 5 years ago my direct line manager, the site director, for no apparent reason launched into the most amazing rant I’d ever heard, directed at me, heard some good ones before but this was by far his best shot, the body language and expressions where so aggressive it was actually unbelievable. So I choose to ignore it, the very next morning he called me on his mobile from a meeting he was at down south somewhere with his peers, loudly proclaiming on the phone that I was the best thing since sliced bread as he was having breakfast with 3 other directors, a very blatant covering his a*s phone call, in case I pursued this through HR, it was so obvious it was sickening, for the next 5 MONTHS he completely ignored me, except for the odd occasion he had to come and speak to me about some issue or other, it was always short and never pleasant, I spent the latter part of this time taking notes, recording who was in the room, time date etc etc,

    It was always public, the ones who think they are untouchable always do it publicly (should add he gives it out to a good few people, I wasn’t the only target) so anyway my half year 121 was due and he had to speak to me, it was scheduled for an hour, 11am till 12pm as he had another meeting, fine by me but on the understanding that there was 3 topics on the agenda, my 121, and 2 private discussions at the end of the 121 so he had to make the time for all 3 in the hour or we would need to re-schedule.

    So, I print everything off, my 121 stuff and notes of all the meetings where he either gave it to me or some other poor bugger. 121 lasted 1 full hour, I was a great guy all the way through, I let him play is card, typing up his comments in front of him, printed it and got him to sign it, then got that witnessed by his P.A.

    He got up to leave the meeting, and I reminded him that there where other matters on the agenda, and it was at that point I changed my mind…. instead of rhyming off some of the harsher specific incidents, and preparing myself to go toe to toe with him, I changed my approach, basically showed him the paperwork nearly 2 inches thick, then said, look I tell you what, you know what’s coming here, I can see it all over your face, so I think I’ll cut you some slack and summarise it this way,

    ”I love you as guy when you are a good guy, and I cannot stand you when you’re in your bullish aggressive and intimidating mode, so, rather than take you through specific incidents that YOU ARE ALREADY AWARE OF, I think I’ll finish the meeting now with this statement and save you any embarrassment

    (I should say that I couldn’t afford to lose my job, but I was really hoping this fight back would work or I was screwed, talk about nerves at that very moment)

    He BROKE DOWN crying, saying he would never believe what another manager was saying again he knew it was not true (Liar) he only shouted at me because HE ONLY GIVES PEOPLE CLOSEST TO HIM A HARD TIME, that’s what you do to the people you love (Yep a Narc does that) he back tracked that fast he got dizzy tripping over himself…… He then said, I thought you’d understand living with a bi-polar wife you know what it’s like, I actually don’t think at that point in the 46 years I’d been on this planet that I could have been angrier.

    He got it immediately with all I could give him, if he ever mentioned my private life again I’d be up him so fast and hard (please forgive this statement but that is what I shouted at him so close our noses where touching) he wouldn’t be able walk again never mind work.

    He has never bothered me again, I’ve been promoted twice since then and I am credited by being only 1 of 2 out of 15 managers who does not take anymore of his insidious mean and brutal behaviours. He is due to retire next year and by god I cant wait for that day..

    In summary, took me a bit longer in hindsight than it should’ve but, if you can, DO NOT STAND for their s**t, challenge them back, if you can be strong enough they cannot feed off you (in that de-moralising way) these people create confusion, they divide, and they play a multi party game that they have to control, so he still gets that, I just don’t invited to meetings that he KNOWS I’ll challenge him on, suits me fine, but I still see people leaving his office as if the world was just put on their shoulders, and as a previous comment earlier in this longer than planned post, I’ll take up others peoples issues with him and he actually apologised publicly twice this year alone, quite proud of that, but still look over my shoulder, I suspect and actually EXPECT some payback for standing up to him before he retires, so yes, I still take notes, these people do not forget, they REMEMBER EVERYTHING even if it’s twisted to suit their agenda, so however strong you think you are, you should still be prepared..

    Good luck everyone

  26. Nat says:

    I had tears in my eyes reading everyone’s stories/comments.
    I’m so happy to find this website, I have had to work with a narc for about 2 years now. She’s mothered by the office manager and gets away with patronising (me mostly as our jobs are quite similar) via emails. There’s no empathy in her communication, she’s almost like a robot. She genuinely believes she above everyone, if you’ve been to Tenerife she’s been to Elevenerife. Over exaggerating achievements, pulling the most ludicrous stories from her backside. Her work is all quantity based (I’m so busy) rather than quality.

    She speaks in a sickly sweet manor and emphasises on how hard she works; how tired she is from working, how she’s so important and hardworking she needs 2 monitors, how she types so quick she has rubbed off the letters from her keyboard etc. She tells different stories to different coworkers (bearing in mind this is a small company).

    She’s completely envious of me, my relationships with fellow coworkers, my weight, my life outside of work.
    No one likes her at my work. She’s only managed to keep her job purely by her manipulative relationship with the office manager. The managing director won’t do anything as he doesn’t want to upset the office manager (who he has worked with for years). She’s erratic, desperate and somehow without seeing the films or TV series has managed to dress the same way as the Trunchbull and Governor Joan Ferguson from Wentworth!

    Unfortunately there is nothing I can do, I have tried to air my concerns before but when your manager mothers/biased towards a narc it’s impossible to explain your reasons without being accused of “causing the drama” in the first place.
    “Behind every narcissist is some enabler allowing this bad behavior”

    However within the last couple of weeks our work is probably going into redundancy, and it’s opened up my eyes to apply for job I’ve wanted to do for ages but never had the confidence to do (funeral care). It’s also pushed a coworker to set up her own business.
    So for these remainder few weeks I will continue to ignore her the best I can, will dress to show off my figure, will speak to fellow coworkers when she’s in earshot of how wonderful my boyfriend and friends are and on the last day will cry tears of joy!

    If you do work with a narc, I would have a think about what you truly want to do with your life and go for it, your sanity and happiness is worth more than having to deal with a narc.

    Good luck

    “If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it”

  27. Ive been working with this type of man for over a year hes been agressive and nasty on several occations because I dont stroke his over inflated ego,im not a brown noser and find the advice given unhelpful , im miserable and feel quite helpless , his behaviour seems to be tolerated and even liked by folk who like stroking hiss ego , ive never felt so down.

  28. A Manager says:

    Here’s an article with some good advice on how to deal:

    My takeaways from the referenced article:
    1. Remember the person is coming from a place of insecurity. (Consider whether there is a specific situation that made it worse. For instance, did the person not get a promotion he wanted?) It always helps to put yourself in the person’s shoes.
    2. Provide just enough reassurance to get him to relax and focus on what needs to be done. Don’t flatter him or you’ll fan the flames.
    3. Stay positive and don’t get ruffled. Ignore any comments that aren’t about the job at hand. Keep focused (and keep him focused) on what you need to get done.

  29. ava says:

    I am so glad i read these comments. I work with someone exactly like this! And even better….mommy in law is EVERYONES boss. Its so fustrating. Is it bad that i feel better now that i know why the heck this person is driving me crazy? She is mean, nip picky, attention seeker extremely manipulative. I was just telling my friend i smile and nod just so shed shut up and go away….it doesnt seem to matter. But now i will stand up to her. Im not looking for a fight. But i will stand my ground. I felt miserable at work n all i keep telling myseld is “its just 8 hours, ignore her your here to work and get paid to make a great life for your daughter” i repeat that ALL DAY when i work with her. Now that i know how to deal with this personality im going to walk into work and ignore this toxic person with a smile because quite frankly i now know they cant do anymore negative things to me because im NOT going to let it happen anymore. Thankyou everyone for posting this has helped me. Although the article on how to deal with a narcissistic personality is very wrong i will have to say.

  30. Di says:

    It might help to know that over 7% of the population has NPD and that is of the ones we know about, since most would never seek help because they are too perfect. If they do enter counselling because they are depressed, since they did not get their way, they do not stay with it and they never really heal. They instead see themselves as victims. There are a number of abusive techniques they use, including one that is not logical. This is where they agree with you and then, in the same sentence or paragraph they contradict themselves and blame you. Then, they become so charming and convincing that it is hard for others to believe you. When you see their charm you might know it is false, but wished it was real and all the time. They only put it on when they want something and they only give back when they want something; plus, what they give back is minimal. The article is correct in saying that if the narcissist is allowed to continue with the bullying, once you or someone else made a complaint, there most likely is a workplace culture of accepting bullying behaviour.

    Unfortunately, if you absolutely need to get something done and the narcissist won’t let you they only way you can convince them is to speak their language, which means describing how it will improve their performance ratings or budget; Otherwise, they cannot compute your language. It is in effect a disability. This approach is also rather an unnerving one to take and for many a last resort, but it depends on how much you absolutely must get something done. If you ordered supplies for your team or students and they make certain that you cannot open those supplies, how will you complete your project or make use of the spent money and time to order the supplies? They are blocking you and have convinced upper management it is ok to do so. They mix lies with a bit of truth to convince others. How important is opening the supplies to keeping your position? You might want to ask these questions. Otherwise, you could ignore the person, as much as is possible, and develop another way of dealing with your situation. In the meantime, keep reminding yourself about what you do well and take care of yourself or you could become deeply depressed around these people that think they are the supreme of everything. Remember that you are not insane because they can make you think you are or are the wrong one.

    Working with a narcissist is one of the most difficult relationships to tolerate. However, if they are your parent I believe that is worse. In most other situations you can leave them. I prefer not to get close to them and to say little and then, when the timing is right I present them with the facts that contradict their lies when I have witnesses. I am not a passive person and like to state the facts, as I see them. I feel like I am a lawyer in the courtroom at that time. However, be aware that they will do whatever they want, no matter how disrespectful it is, in order to protect themselves and achieve their never ending desire for more power and money, even if it means pushing you and your friends in front of an oncoming train when others are looking and then, trying to convince them what they did was right because they were defending themselves. These people and sociopaths/psychopaths run dictatorships from which our politicians insist on buying faulty supplies from. Narcissists are not far from becoming psychopaths, in my opinion and both rise to the top or organizations and run countries. Eventually, they ruin them, but they do not need to take you and your colleagues down with them. They will not change, but you need a survival plan that works for you and keeps your sanity. These people are literally six-year olds in suits, Meryl Streep plays one well in the Devil Wears Prada. I have a hard time tolerating them! Pretend to be Spock and you might do well.

  31. jessica says:

    Thank u for the recommendations of how to work with them better or in another words how to survive if we need this job badly ….. one question ‘by doing do, are we breeding them further’???

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