How To Deal with a Narcissistic Coworker

By Subodh / April 27, 2013

In a workplace, there are few things worse than having to put up with narcissistic coworker on a daily basis. Sadly, there are bound to be one or two such people everywhere and if there is one in your office you simply cannot avoid them. Simply ignoring them doesn’t work because they will feel slighted and become more overbearing. They may even make it their mission to make your life miserable.

By definition, a narcissist is a person who has an overinflated sense of self-importance. They have unrealistic views, unable to see others’ viewpoints and hypersensitive to criticism. This makes them extremely difficult to deal with, especially if they have reasons to dislike you. Despite these flaws, they may be valuable workers. Therefore, the best you can do is to learn to handle them.

Narcissistic Coworker

So here are a few tips on how to deal with your narcissistic coworker:

  1. Don’t take what they say personally: A narcissist person is full of self-praise and very critical of others at the same time. While they may be criticizing you, it is most likely that they are not singling you out. For them, you are as good a target as anyone else. The next time it could be another coworker. So when they say something hurtful, do not take it personally.
  2. Genuinely praise and appreciate them: More than anyone else, narcissists like to be showered with praise and appreciation. So when they have accomplished something, genuinely praise and appreciate them for their skills and effort. This will make more favorably disposed towards you. But careful not to overdo it or make it a habit as that will only exacerbate their already overinflated ego.
  3. Do not expect praise and appreciation: Being human, it is only natural that you expect to be praised and appreciated for your accomplishments. But narcissists are so preoccupied with themselves and so full of self-praise that they rarely have the time to shower praise and appreciation on others. So do not expect to be praised and appreciated for your work. This will save you a lot of pain.
  4. Make life easier for them: Although narcissists like to project an image of being at the top of the world, they are in fact insecure and always in need of reaffirmation of their self-importance. This makes them unhappy and critical of others. So make their life easier by avoiding contentious issues and not criticizing them. If you have to, then be prepared for a stinging retaliation.
  5. Stand up to them if nothing works: When all you good gestures fail and the narcissist is hell bent on making your life miserable, stand up to him and let him know that you are not one to be intimidated. Once they get the message, they will leave you alone and find another easier target. Too bad for the next guy, but you will at least have peace of mind.

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