Working with a narcissist can be a very trying situation. You have to deal with someone who is in love with himself and has no problem making life miserable for everyone else in the office. Sure, these narcissistic colleagues can be charming when they want to be as they try to finesse their way into getting what they want.
Yet, you need to watch out for when the narcissist’s evil twin shows up. You never know what’s going to happen because this person might feel threatened like the evil queen in Snow White—that there is someone more lovely and fair than they are. Be prepared for those self-absorbed flare ups and consider the following ways to deal with your narcissistic colleagues at work.
1. Fly Under the Narcissist’s Radar
One of the best things you can do when dealing with a narcissist at work is to fly under her radar. Unless you want to become the victim of the evil queen’s fits of fury when her pride is wounded or she messes up big time and looks for a scape goat. If you are an easy target, you’ll become the symbolic punching bag for this narcissistic colleague. Of course, you shouldn’t tip toe around like you’re stepping on glass and trying not to get speared in the foot by a broken shard.
However, you should keep your opinions to yourself whenever this individual’s evil twin rises and looks for an easy target to attack during her own rage party. Mind your own business and fly under the radar. When the narcissist becomes enraged, that’s not the time to remind her that she really did make a mistake and she’s not the perfect little angel she thinks she is. Her fall from grace, like Lucifer in a tailspin, will take you down with her. So, make sure you get good at acting like a chameleon and camouflaging your workstation when the sh** hits the fan!
2. Don’t Internalize the Narcissist’s Attacks
You are never going to survive working with a narcissist if you continually become ensnared in her tangled web of self-absorbed behavior and egotistical backlash from her outbursts. You’re not responsible for your colleague’s actions and should never internalize any attacks against you. Sure, you probably want to lash out and give her a piece of your mind. However, that will never get you anywhere with this type of individual. Remember, she has the evil queen syndrome where she thinks she is the fairest of them all and none is greater than she is. You standing up for yourself will only fall on deaf ears.
True, you don’t want to get walked on, but you need to handle the attacks in a way where you don’t internalize the negative intent. Don’t validate her harsh words by thinking what she says about you is true. You should never allow her vicious barbs or negativity to bring you down to her lower than low immaturity level. You are better than that type of behavior. Remember that the narcissist is only thinking of herself and not you. Other people don’t matter to them and are only used as play things. Taking things personally will only make you fall into her evil scheme of making you one of her pawns.
3. Realize You’ll Never Be Number One
Of course you need to love yourself—within reason—and channel self-preserving behavior into your daily work routine. However, you must realize that you will never be number one to this narcissist. No one will ever be. This person only thinks about himself, how good he looks and how awesome he is at everything he does. Sure, he may be lousy at work and have a mediocre appearance. Yet, in his eyes, he’s a rock star and everyone should be falling all over him in adoration. The sooner you realize that you’ll never be number one in his eyes, the easier it will be to deal with him and his behavior in an effective manner. You’ll be able to accept the reality of the situation.
He’ll probably still bulldoze over you and act like he completed your team project all by himself. Receiving accolades from others feeds his innate need to be perceived as perfect. It’s best if you can find ways to ignore him as much as possible through the day. However, if that’s not possible, you simply need to accept the facts and realize that he’s probably not going to ever change his ways. You cannot be consumed by his behavior. It’s a part of who he is and you shouldn’t expect that to change. Unless, of course, he gets a lobotomy and becomes a completely different person—maybe that’s a fantasy you should hold on to, so you can deal with his ignorant behavior!
4. Become the Narcissist’s Biggest Fan
Ok, so this step probably makes you want to vomit your last meal, but it is a viable option for effectively dealing with a narcissist in the workplace. This is sort of a last ditch effort if you simply have to work with this person and have not found any means of escape from his evil clutches. It may be excruciatingly mentally painful, but you need to suck up your pride and become the narcissist’s biggest fan. At least in the office, that is.
Once you’ve escaped the prison doors of the office, you can become his worst enemy. Just try not to act out on any revenge fantasies that you’ve been cooking up in your mind. Save those for night time when you’ve defeated the evil queen in your dreams and helped Snow White take back her throne. Remember, this step is for people who absolutely have to work with a narcissist and have no other choice in the matter. Pour on the flattery. The narcissist won’t think you’re flattering him too much because he feeds on such adoration. You’ll become his best friend and won’t be subjected to his wrath during narcissistic episodes of rage or mind-numbing over indulgences in his looking glass.
5. Find Your Own Number One Fans
This process can be difficult. You may think you’re losing your mind if you have to listen to one more second of how wonderful this narcissistic colleague is—and all those accolades are probably coming from his own mouth! You must find your own fans, even if it’s against your more humble nature to have adoring people surrounding you. Ok, so the point is not to transform you into a narcissist. That would be one of the worst things that could happen. Then the evil queen will have won and Snow White will be dead. No, you need to keep the true hero alive and find your own fans.
Basically, you need to surround yourself with your own support system. Who’s going to build you up when you feel like pulling your hair out after dealing with the narcissist on another team project? Who’s got your back when you can’t stop yourself from knocking this ignoramus out cold? That’s where your loyal fans or friends come in. You need to have work buddies or friends outside the office that can understand your pain and help you with encouragement—as well as getting you to stick to the game plan.
So, when you have to work with a narcissist, put on your armor. Get ready for any kind of explosive attack, subversive action or annoying self-flattery. You can stave off the negativity of the narcissist’s evil twin by using the five tips suggested here.
Have you had to deal with a narcissist at work? How did you handle the situation? Let us know in the comments section below.