HOW DOES A NARCISSIST LOOK AT WORK?
They can be men, women, your boss, the CEO, a cubemate, or a person you consider a work friend. Sometimes the way they appear to the company is so charming and helpful, they do not need to have two heads to have two different sides to them, so please don’t be fooled just because everyone likes them.
Narcissists come in many flavors, but I want you to understand the concept of overt vs covert narcissists. An overt narcissist is outwardly thinking they are superior, they talk about their accomplishments and their own self worth in the organization. The stereotype to think of is a ladder climber who steps on others in order to raise themselves higher.
The covert type is like Clark Kent, mild mannered, keeps to himself, helpful, professional on the outside but behind closed doors they are working the powers that be to raise themselves up and devalue everyone else. This person is hard to identify until you become their prey, most victims never saw this type of behavior coming. This cover or ‘mask’ is harder to fight because they have created this amazingly wonderful persona that no one will believe you when you bring things to the attention of an HR department.
BEHAVIORS OF A NARCISSIST AT WORK
As I said above, we cannot diagnose them. Their behaviors are what we must look at and use to guide us to understand that this person is abusive and toxic. Every narcissist is going to playthings differently, use these as a guideline:
They tell everyone how great they are and yet never seem to get anything done. The old saying that actions speak louder than words really do apply here. They self-inflate if they have the gang to back them up and cover for them when they don’t get work done.
In a meeting they often hog the conversation and rudely interrupt others. This unprofessional behavior is a call for attention. They love to be in the spotlight and even if no one is putting a light on them, they stand up and claim it. The narcissistic need for attention is displayed with this type of behavior.
Stealing from others is another common tactic. They do not play well with others and probably stole other kids toys when they were young. This type of behavior doesn’t happen fast, it happens slowly as they gain your trust, then when you don’t expect it, they are in a meeting telling everyone about this great idea, that was yours. When this first happens you may excuse it, but in time the bar gets lowered and they are practically stealing everything they can from you. If you dare speak up, they immediately put you on the ‘evil’ list and begin the devalue stage to destroy you. They only want people around them that admire them and that they can control.
Rules do not apply to them. Think of all the white-collar crimes that people commit. A narcissist is entitled to steal supplies, laptops and your work, as they have no conscious, and they feel no remorse for hurting people.
A narcissist is quick to judge everyone but themselves. They feed off negative emotions and try to break teams up, they bring down morale and cause damage wherever they go.
They can throw tantrums if someone doesn’t agree with them. If someone speaks up against them, they will publicly try to ruin that person. They are not good at taking criticism, or any type of negative feedback. When this happens, it causes that narcissistic injury and sets in motion the devalue stage. How dare you say bad things about them.
Passive aggressive behaviors are also common in the devalue and discard stages. The gossip and smears we spoke of above are one way they attack, but stonewalling, backstabbing, gaslighting and office sarcasm are also things to watch for. When they joke about you in front of other people, they will cover it with a stupid comment like ‘only kidding’, ‘gosh you are sensitive’. The goal is to make you look bad and feel bad, and when they say something about you in a joking way and then pull it back like that, they have planted the seed for a smear campaign later. This strategy boosts themselves up while they devalue you.
You are either good supply or you are the enemy.