The dreaded narcissist, even the word itself sounds poisonous when you say it out loud. No one wants to be labelled with the stain of it, but unfortunately there are more of them than you think out there, heading up board meetings, lurking in the background of conference calls, spamming your inbox, even attending your family BBQ’s and bringing delicious baked goods into the office. We’ve all had to deal with one, especially in the workplace, and if you don’t know how to spot one, here are some tell-tale signs:
• Takes credit for your hard work
• Gives you backhanded compliments
• Ridicules you in front of your colleagues
• Blames everything on you
• Knows your weak spot and exploits it
• Actively tries to discredit you
• Lies to get ahead
• Sabotages other people’s work
• Pressures you to do something unethical
• Is jealous of your accomplishments instead of congratulating you
No matter who the narcissist is in your work environment, their modus operandi is always the same – they want to be seen as the best, no matter what the cost to others.
The problem with dealing with narcissists is that most of the time, we look up to them, we are in awe of them, until we figure out their game. But, by this point, a lot of damage has usually already been done.
So, how do you protect yourself from a narcissist in the workplace? Well, aside from distancing yourself from them completely, here are some top tips:
1. Get it in writing
The best defence is offence, document anything that is said to you and when, in detailed notes, should you ever need to recall an incident or instructions precisely. Even better is to save any email correspondence that comes direct from the narcissist themselves. Only the very arrogant risk exposing their true nature via the written word, so when it happens, keep hold of it. This way, should you, or another member of staff, need evidence of any issues, you’re already prepared for it.
2. Avoid a fight
The narcissist’s goal is to take you down – avoid giving them this opportunity. Finding your weak spot and exploiting it is the famous weapon of choice for the narcissist, they have a special knack for being able to hone in on what people are sensitive about and use it as ammunition against you. If the narcissist feels that you have ‘injured’ them in some way, they will respond by commenting on something that they know will really push your buttons. Do not give them the satisfaction, keep in mind that their behaviour is a reflection on their character rather than any perceived faults of your own, and walk away from the interaction.
3. It’s not personal
The narcissists behaviour has nothing to do with you, it is simply all about them and the deep insecurities they feel. Realising that the narcissists behaviour is not actually a personal attack on you can make it much easier to walk away from. So walk.
4. Keep your mouth shut
Narcissists are emotional vampires, they can sense when people have hit a rough spot, and the more personal information they can glean from you, the more they can use to manipulate you further down the road. Be careful also of sharing any opinions about co-workers or clients with a narcissist, as no matter what answer you give, the narcissist will always twist your words to fit their own agenda.
5. Know your rights
All jokes and surface-level advice aside, sometimes narcissists will cross the lines of legality in their abuse of power and position in the workplace. So, if your day-to-day situation has become unbearable, know your legal rights, talk to HR and get some help and support. Your work environment should be a positive place to inhabit, so don’t let anyone compromise that.
Far too frequently the term narcissist is used as a throwaway comment and a laughable excuse for a difficult person. However, no one should feel harassed, bullied or uncomfortable in the workplace, so get wise to toxic behaviour and make sure that your work environment is the best that it can be for your creativity, productivity and talent to flourish.
Want to see what non-narcissistic, peaceful creative types get up when we’re left to thrive in a positive work environment? Check out some of our latest work and get in touch today to discuss your next project or campaign.