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5 tips to deal with narcissists at work

Narcissists are some of the worst people to have at work. They are mentally exhausting and toxic to be around, and they are often regarded as social vampires who feed on the energy of those around them, even tiring those who can put up with them. There are two things that define a narcissist - one, their constant need for attention. And two, their inflated yet ironically, fragile ego. The best way to describe narcissists is the world is their stage, and the people their audience. They thrive on the attention that people give them and are always seeking more. You can bet that work is never peaceful with these people around, and it can often feel like you’re wading through a field of landmines, waiting for one to trigger at any time. Unfortunately, these people never change and they will continue to make work difficult for everyone. That said, there are ways you can keep a narcissist at bay, and that is by limiting your contact with them. Here are several ways for you to do that.

Never divulge your personal lives to them

The first thing to note about narcissists is that they enjoy prying into people’s personal lives to learn about others. Think of them as a nosy spy who is constantly collecting information about you so that they may use it to gain the upperhand in the future. For example, an employer may make use an employee’s marital status to bind them to their jobs i.e. Your boss requests you to stay back for overtime on a Friday night because you’re single and you have no plans, in exchange for their freedom and ability to go off early for the evening. Some employers have even crossed the line by stalking their coworkers on social media. Another example of prying into a colleague’s personal life may include divulging information that is privy to them without regards for the wellbeing of others i.e. A narcissist may be a tattletale who intentionally reveals a colleague’s salary information at large just to be treated to free meals or drinks all the time.

A narcissistic colleague is inherently manipulative, and they will do anything to gain the advantage. While it may seem a little stone cold to maintain a professional boundary, doing so will ensure that your narcissists know little about you, which prevents them from using any personal information against you. Remember, less is more.

Beware of gaslightings

Narcissists love to be in the spotlight, and they especially love taking credit for their colleague’s work. Tales of narcissistic bosses and colleagues stealing a coworker’s idea in order to gain promotion at work are rampant. Narcissistic bosses in particular, are notorious for putting down others and one-upping their involvement at work. They are incredibly charming and persuasive, traits that enable them to sway the masses’ opinions to their advantage. They may even go as far as to gaslight their employees by implying things that are entirely untrue. This is done with the intention of muddling the account further, in hopes that their story may appear convincing, which puts them in a favorable light to the public. It’s always tricky to counter a narcissistic colleague or boss who enjoys stealing your thunder, but the best way to deal with them is to ensure you are always ready to present evidence to maintain your innocence or contribution. A narcissist will not have anything to defend their claims when solid evidence is put forth, and it will give their tall tales a run for their money.

Safeguard yourself against negativity

Narcissists thrive in drama, because they want to have something to talk about. They may attempt to sow dramas by spreading false rumors about colleagues at work, which gets people riled up and confrontational. To people who are their equal and below, they regard these people with impunity and arrogance. A narcissist wants you to feel insecure and weak at all times, which in turn bolsters their ego and makes them feel powerful. Deep down, this is simply a ruse that allows them to maintain an advantage at work and protect their fragile ego from crumbling. When drama happens, it’s important to keep cool. Learn to distance yourself from drama as they may only seek to bring you down at work. As the saying goes, a person of moral integrity fears no slanderous attack. You have no need to play a narcissist’s little show to prove your innocence. Keep calm and soldier on.

Watch out for flattery

If a narcissist is constantly showering you with flattery, start running for the hills, because it could only mean one thing - they are expecting something from you. A narcissist does not compliment from their heart, they compliment for the sole purpose of getting something out of others and once they have what they want in their hands, they revert to their old selves and continue treating others with the same callousness or insensitivity as before. A narcissist is only concerned with their wellbeing and will continue to behave in ways that serve to benefit them. If this involves constantly pandering to a particular group at work to gain access to certain privileges, they will continue doing so until it is no longer possible, at which point they will either move on to a new group of posse, or start seeking out new targets at work to flatter.

Avoid engaging in conflicts

If there’s one thing that narcissists enjoy more than drama and being in the spotlight, it’s victimizing themselves and garnering sympathy from the people around them. When people openly disagree with them at work, they are quick to cause a scene to such a dramatic extent that people are inclined to sympathize with them. And when criticisms are given, they often find ways to shift the blame to their colleagues instead, often citing external factors i.e. incompetent colleagues as their source of failure. A narcissist is horrible at taking responsibility and holding themselves accountable for their actions, this is because they are obsessed with the idea of grandeur and perfectionism, and believe themselves to be flawless. During these exchanges, they may lash out and react aggressively when they are called out on their mistakes, and will violently defend themselves to the very end. You may be goaded into having an argument with them, but it is at this precise moment that you have all the more reason to walk away. The reasoning is simple, every second you spend entertaining their tirade is another second that goes into feeding their already-inflated ego, which will only seek to drain you further and leave you damaged. Don’t let that happen.

Silence is golden…

In most cases, dealing with narcissistic colleagues or any narcissists in general is simply a matter of keeping your reactions to a minimum and never indulging in their constant need for attention. The more time you spend interacting with a narcissist, the more you allow them to feed off on your energy and tire you out. Sometimes, it’s important to remember no reaction is a reaction, and that’s the only response they should ever elicit from you.

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