Later On

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How to deal with narcissistic co-workers: A survival guide

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Jody Foster writes in Quartz:

Throughout my career as a psychiatrist, I’ve worked with a personality type that I call Narcissus. One such person was Richard, a successful executive chef whom I was asked to see after he threw a knife at a sous chef in the kitchen. During a seemingly uneventful food preparation demonstration, he asked his assistant for a particular knife, but was presented with a different one. In a dramatic episode of screaming and yelling, he threw the knife back toward the horrified chef and stormed out of the kitchen, swearing about how incompetent she was.

Thankfully, most of us do not have to deal with knife-throwing at work. But a lot of us encounter narcissistic types in the office—people who try to inflate their sense of self-worth by exaggerating their accomplishments, overestimating their abilities, and blaming others for shortcomings. This tendency is rooted in an underlying, deeply entrenched sense of insecurity. (In everyday conversation, we tend to think of a narcissistic person as having too high an opinion of himself, when in fact the Narcissus just appears self-absorbed in order to protect himself from low self-esteem.) It is never fun to work with someone who behaves this way. But if you have a narcissistic co-worker, there are strategies you can employ to soften their ego-driven blows.

On a day-to-day basis, appealing to this person’s egocentricity can be very effective. The occasional recognition of the person’s achievement, strengths, or values may go a long way in avoiding anger or demeaning comments; in some instances, you may simply want to remark upon a person’s good efforts. Fanning the embers of narcissism is particularly effective in avoiding unwanted conflict. Particularly if the Narcissus is your boss, you have to let them think that you perceive them as important. No matter how difficult it may be to do this, the Narcissus boss can make the workplace a living hell for anyone who they think is not on board with their success. Give them compliments, and try to do so without mocking them.

Remember that the only commentary that the Narcissus will be able to actually hear will contain some degree of praise in it. So when asking for a favor or for some type of change that could be perceived as an insult, definitely attempt the route of first praising him in some way. Even a simple statement like a reminder about a deadline might need some positive reinforcement embedded in it: “I can’t wait to see your draft of the proposal on Friday.” Remember that the Narcissus has special techniques for avoiding hearing criticism and can interpret even a simple suggestion or reminder as an insult if it doesn’t contain anything positive.

Another strategy is paying attention to the Narcissus. If enough attention is not paid, he will perceive criticism. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 May 2017 at 3:49 pm

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