According to professional estimates, about 0.5% of the US population has a condition called narcissistic personality disorder. This is about one person out of every 200, so if you’re dealing with a narcissist at work, you’re far from alone.
A narcissist is a person who has a personality disorder where they’re unable to empathize with other people. Because of this, they’re really self-centered and like to brag about their own accomplishments.
Dealing with a person at work who has a God complex is annoying and tough to navigate. I’ve had to do it, and know how annoying and ridiculous it can be.
Luckily, I learned that there are some ways to deal with your narcissistic coworker that can make your life much easier. Read on for some tips on how to handle a narcissist and reclaim your workplace sanity.
1. Don’t Take What They Say to Heart
Narcissists say a lot of things in an attempt to manipulate people around them.
The ‘do as I say, not as I do’ policy is one that the narcissist loves since it doesn’t hold them accountable for their actions. They will do one thing while purporting that it’s a bad thing for others to do- a narcissist is always the exception to their own moral judgments.
Narcissists will also say things to try to get you to feel like you’re in the wrong.
Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse where a narcissist tries to get you to question reality. Examples of gaslighting include:
- “You must be confused.”
- “It’s always something with you.”
- “Don’t twist my words.”
- “You always misremember things.”
- “I think you need mental help.”
A narcissist will likely say things like this to you so that you’re more likely to listen to them over your own memories, knowledge, and conscience. The only way to avoid feeling bad is to remember that they’re just lying.
In the workplace, a narcissistic coworker will probably say things to make you feel like you’ve done both morally wrong things as well as made professional transgressions. There’s nothing wrong with your work, but a narcissist won’t want you to ever feel good about yourself.
Let what the narcissist says go in one ear and out the other. Their words are all lies.
2. Don’t Try to Fight With Them
You shouldn’t take what a narcissist says to heart, but you also shouldn’t try to fight with them. They aren’t going to listen to you because they aren’t reasonable people.
Anything that you say in an argument with a narcissist will inevitably be twisted around and thrown back in your face. They have no real emotions, so they’ll take advantage of your being reasonably riled up and try to make you look hysterical.
The narcissist also believes that they are, without a doubt, correct in every situation.
You don’t want to get into an argument with someone unreasonable because you won’t be able to win. Narcissists aren’t looking for a conversation- to them, everything’s just an opportunity to prove that they’re the greatest person ever to exist.
Also, since narcissists tend to view emotions as a weakness, getting emotional about your work and your ideas is just something that they can exploit.
It’s best to just ignore the things they say and carry on with your life, no matter how much they might make you want to yell.
You can also practice meditation and mindfulness at home to make sure that you’re capable of managing and balancing emotions!
3. Don’t Share Personal Information
There’s one more thing I forgot to mention about narcissists up until now: most of them are so very charming.
Narcissists tend to be really funny, engaging, and interesting. They make you want to spend time with them because they have the smarts to pretend to be the kind of person you want to hang out with.
In the beginning, most narcissists will seem like a dream come true. You’ll feel a sort of magnetic pull to them and want to befriend them.
Even once a narcissist shows their true colors, they’ll still have moments when they seem like the workplace sweetheart that they once pretended to be.
Most narcissists I’ve met have also told stories that make you feel bad for them. They want you to think that they’re always the victim.
As an empathetic human being, this makes you want to become close with the narcissist. You’re likely to feel for them and the struggles that they’ve fabricated and told you about.
You may feel like telling them things about your life as a result of this. Doing this, however, is one of the worst things you can do.
Any and all information you give to your narcissist coworker is fuel for them to manipulate you further. They’ll use any knowledge that they have about you as tools to make you feel bad about yourself in the future.
4. Don’t Go Anywhere Alone With Them
Not only shouldn’t you tell a narcissist anything about yourself, but you absolutely shouldn’t go anywhere alone with them, either.
Most narcissists are abusers, and they’ll take any opportunity that they’re alone with you to engage in abusive behaviors.
Since the person you’re trying to avoid is a member of your workplace, this can be tricky. You might be wondering, ‘what should I do if we need to work on a project together or collaborate?’
These are reasonable concerns, but they can be solved by having a third party present when you work together. Ask a friend or supervisor to be in the room with you as you and the narcissist speak.
If you are forced to go somewhere alone with the narcissist, make sure that you have your cell phone with you. It can be used to call someone in an emergency or as a recording device if things begin to go too far.
5. Do Get Everything in Writing
While a recording device is a good idea in extreme situations, it isn’t something you’ll want to use on a day-to-day basis. The better alternative is to get everything that the narcissist says in writing.
Narcissists are incredibly good liars. Once, I saw a narcissist speak to a superior in an attempt to get a colleague suspended, and guess what?
I wish that the guy who was suspended had gotten the truth in writing. Although he came back to work the next week and was fine, he didn’t deserve to miss that pay.
The moral of that story is that you need to get your resident narcissist to email you everything that they claim that they have done. You’ll want them to be specific.
Make sure that you store them in a safe place within your email account. To be especially safe, you can print them out and file them away. This will prove to your boss that you’re telling the truth if anything happens.
Also, if your narcissistic coworker emails you anything abusive, print it out right away and show it to your superior. This will make sure that your boss is in the loop and knows the narcissist’s true character before anything drastic happens.
6. Do Avoid Contact When Possible
While it’s best for contact with a narcissist to be in writing, it’s even better to avoid contact altogether.
I know, that’s tough in the workplace. There are, however, some ways that you can avoid dealing with a difficult coworker that you might want to take a look at.
Above all else, narcissists want to keep up good appearances. Use that to your advantage.
When the narcissist comes near you, make it look like you’re really busy. This will deter them from coming up and bothering you since people around you would judge them if they did.
You should also block the person on social media. This will send the message that you’re onto them and don’t want to be bothered by their lies.
It also will keep them away from your personal information and life, which we already established they’ll use to their advantage.
Finally, you can avoid contact with the narcissist by making a schedule that’s different from theirs. Take breaks at different times than they do- it will do you a world of good.
Do Learn How to Handle a Narcissist
Dealing with a narcissist is obnoxious, irritating, and emotionally taxing. If you use the tips that you’ve learned here, though, I’ve found that this becomes a much easier task.
Now that you know how to handle a narcissist, it’s time to do something nice for yourself so that all the anxiety of dealing with them melt away.
To do this, I personally like to take a long, hot bath with a book and some bath oils. Click here to learn about the best essential oils that you can get in your bath oils to help you handle stress.
Good luck- you’ve got this!