You may come across a narcissist at work, but it may be a while before you can identify they are one. Your team members are supposed to have your back, and you should have theirs. Hence, it can be very complicated to deal with a narcissist.
Dealing with narcissists is not easy, especially in a professional setting. You have to tread a thin line so that your reaction to their unprofessional and narcissistic behavior does backfire. Narcissists are skilled at manipulation; at times, you may feel alone when no one else can understand what the narcissist is up to.
Having to deal with narcissistic behavior at work can be exhausting. If all your work stress wasn’t enough, now you also find yourself watching your back against them. It can jeopardize your work, and you may find yourself despairing at a wit’s end regarding how to deal with them. If you are not mindful, it may affect your mental health in the long run.
Hence, the first step towards dealing with a narcissistic coworker is recognizing the signs. And while everyone is different, there are some common narcissistic traits you can tackle once you know you are dealing with a narcissist.
Who is a Narcissist?
First, you should know who is a narcissist. Someone with a narcissistic personality disorder has a very high opinion of themselves. They have an inflated ego and believe everyone should cater to their needs. They will go to any lengths to get what they want, with little regard for the feelings of others.
Narcissists thrive on validation, and when they don’t get it, they are first depressed and then vindictive towards anyone who denies them. In a workplace setting, you may at first feel that one of your coworkers is probably a little high-handed when, in fact, they are narcissists.
They can make a workplace toxic with their behavior and often try to manipulate any situation to suit their needs. You must have a clear strategy once you have identified a narcissistic coworker.
Signs Your Coworker is a Narcissist
Working with a difficult colleague is one thing, but the problems can be far more severe if they are a narcissist. However, it could be a while before you can identify the patterns that confirm your suspicions. Here are some traits to look out for.
1. Demanding Credit
Narcissists will demand credit and often steal it for work they have not done. As mentioned earlier, they thrive on admiration and feel no guilt about depriving others of their limelight. They will also seek credit for the team’s success, even though it was a team effort and will highlight their contribution while undermining others.
2. Zero Accountability
One of the telltale signs of a narcissist is that they will never acknowledge their mistakes. They will not be held responsible for their actions and will even lie about it. In extreme cases, they will also direct the fault at someone else and deny the consequences of their action, behaving like it was nothing serious.
Narcissists can be big gossipers and often take the opportunity to backstab anyone else. They will spread rumors about someone else to make themselves look good and will especially do so if they are jealous of a particular coworker and feel threatened by their success.
4. Resistant to Feedback
To a narcissist, they can do no wrong. Hence, any feedback you may want to offer as a helpful coworker will be brushed aside. They may even resent you for your audacity to think you can correct or improve them and may target you with hurtful comments or snide remarks. They are prone to get defensive and will be very resistant towards any criticism.
5. Very Charming
Yes, one of the reasons why it can be difficult to identify a narcissist is that they can be quite charming. They usually have a charismatic personality and make very good first impressions. Only later you will realize that their charming demeanor hides a narcissistic personality.
6. Disregard for Rules
Narcissists feel they are above the rules but will leave no opportunity to correct others. They will also often do unethical acts in the office and deny them when confronted. They will downplay their faults and act like the rules are meant for others and do not apply to them.
Narcissists can be very passive-aggressive and use gaslighting to their best advantage. They will make rude comments and disguise them as jokes or act like the victims while they are the perpetrators. They will justify their actions no matter what and often hide their taunts with reassuring but false words of approval.
8. Seeking Praise
Narcissists are in constant need of reassurance or praise. They feel very insecure if their acts are not noticed or if someone disapproves of them. They thrive on words of approval and will go to any lengths to get noticed if they feel adequate praise is not coming.
9. Monopolizing Conversations
Narcissists often monopolize conversations and hardly let anyone else speak or be heard. They also have to have the last say in almost everything. They resent being interrupted but will interrupt others at will. They will also make sure that all their points in a meeting are considered but will toss their coworker’s ideas out of the window.
10. Jealous and Overbearing
Your narcissistic coworker will often be jealous of other people’s success. They rarely applaud when another team member gets credit or does well and often have an overbearing attitude to thwart others. They will try to hog all the attention if they feel anyone else is getting noticed.
11. Disapproval of Everything
Your narcissistic coworker will disapprove of everything. Nothing is ever good enough for them- from the new manager to the coffee served. They would complain about anyone and everything and emphasize that things would be much better at the office if they were at the helm, often coveting higher positions and leadership roles.
Useful Methods to Deal with a Narcissistic Coworker
Getting along with coworkers is important to keep unwanted workplace hassles at bay. And even though your colleague is a narcissist, knowing how to deal with them can keep tensions within the team away. Here are some ways in which you can deal with them.
1. Prevent Gaslighting
You have to know how gaslighting works and protect yourself from it. Whenever you see your coworker trying to coerce you into something you don’t want to do, trying to lay their faults on you, make you a scapegoat to get out of a mess they created or spread rumors about, resist that behavior firmly.
You don’t have to create a scene or get into a shouting match with them because you can be sure they will play the victim. Instead, please educate yourself on how gaslighting works and prevent it from happening to you.
2. Don’t Take Things Personally
This is very important to remember while dealing with narcissists. It is not personal. A narcissist cannot help who they are; it has nothing to do with you.
You are just one of the many people with whom they behave rudely and egoistically. It is all about them, and they don’t care who is affected by their behavior.
3. Don’t Try to Change them
It is not your burden to change a narcissist. Be realistic about who they are, and do not assume that if you behave well with them, your good gesture will be reciprocated.
In fact, they will be even more triggered and will try to get back at you. Just accept them for who they are and ignore their behavior. When they see they do not affect you, they could move on.
4. Document their Behavior
A narcissist can engage in very offensive behavior, and sometimes it may get out of hand. By tolerating unethical behavior over the long term, you will condone it even more.
And it would help if you had something to show in case they cross a line. Hence, be sure to document all offensive behavior and keep a witness by confiding in another coworker you trust. The evidence will be useful in case things turn very serious.
5. Set Your Boundaries
It is very important to set boundaries with a narcissist and clarify what you will and will not tolerate. Healthy boundaries are integral for your mental health while dealing with a narcissist.
It is important to communicate clearly that your coworkers must respect your boundaries if you work together. You must consider taking other actions if they cannot respect your boundaries.
6. Be Assertive
Since narcissists like to establish dominance, they usually target those with submissive behavior. Hence, the best way to deal with a narcissist is to stand up for yourself. Do not budge if they try to talk over you.
If they try to steal credit for your work, make sure everyone knows about your contribution. If they try to dismiss your ideas, ensure that the people who matter get to know them. Seeing they have no power over you will make a narcissist back away.
7. Speak to Your Manager or HR
If things turn for the worse, speak to your manager or your boss. This is especially true if working with a narcissist affects the quality of your work. Do not complain, gossip, or try to paint your coworker in a bad light.
However, talk about your concerns. An understanding boss will take necessary actions or will at least try to move you to another team.
Also Read: Signs Your Boss Trusts You
8. Be Careful of Flattery
A narcissist can manipulate you in several ways, and one of them is to flatter you. They will praise and flatter you, bringing you down the next moment.
And they will defend their actions by flattering you all over again so that you do not see through their manipulation. Identify the pattern and be careful of their words of praise followed by rudeness.
9. Do not Share Personal Details
You should avoid sharing personal details with your colleagues, especially with a narcissistic coworker. They can use the information at some point and use it to your advantage.
Through these details, they will understand what kind of person you are and try to manipulate you. You should also limit who sees your social media profiles from work and use your privacy settings to keep information away from your narcissistic coworker.
Should You Seek Professional Help for a Narcissist Coworker?
Yes, if your narcissistic coworker makes things very difficult for you and costs you your mental health, you should consider seeking mental health. Or else you will expend too much energy into dealing with them, which could negatively impact your work.
You cannot risk your career all the while suffering at the hands of a narcissist. If you feel too disturbed, seeking therapy can help you identify signs of narcissist collapse and also help you recover from it. You will also gain the confidence to stand up for yourself and empower yourself to face your narcissistic coworker.
A narcissist can make things exceedingly difficult for you at the workplace. They can turn any environment toxic, and sooner or later, it will affect everyone. Understanding the signs can help you positively deal with them.
Speak to someone you trust if things get overwhelming, but being strong in the face of narcissistic behavior is the best thing you can do. Once you prioritize yourself and your work and ignore your narcissistic coworker, they will probably stop bothering you once they see they have no power over you.