Encountering a narcissistic co-worker can change the landscape of your workplace, of your career, of your happiness even. While these people exist in all walks of life, you do not have to allow yourself to be destroyed by them, and there are ways of co-existing without the stress and upset they can cause.
What is a narcissist?
A narcissist is typically someone who is purely concerned with their own image, aiming to further their own career, whatever the detriment to others may be. They are likely to be arrogant, self-centred, patronising and demanding. A narcissist will often belittle others and punish others deemed ‘weaker’.
If you recognise the above description as being one of your co-workers, here are four ways in which you can successfully deal with a narcissistic co-worker.
Avoid attacking back
While it can be upsetting to feel as though you are enduring the most of your narcissistic co-worker's attacks, avoiding retaliating with similar treatment towards them is always recommended. When a narcissist’s behaviour is mirrored back to them, things can deteriorate even further.
With sexual harassment, if you’re asking yourself why does it happen and who carries out these attacks, this is a prime example of someone feeling the need to punish and humiliate someone because that’s how they’ve been made to feel.
One thing that many narcissists do not expect is for someone to stand up for themselves against their attacks. Some narcissists act covertly, under the radar most of the time, whereas others are far more obvious with their actions. Whichever type you are facing, ensure that you act assertively in response, showing your strength.
For example, if they try to belittle you regarding your work output, simply say, “I have done my job. I am happy with it and my boss is too.” or something along those lines rather than acting hurt or starting to cry. Although, if that is how you feel, it is absolutely ok, but try not to reveal that to the narc.
Talk to management
With workplace bullying, it can feel as though you are grassing on someone when you run to the boss. However, if something is happening and it is making employees feel uncomfortable and unable to do their job properly, the management of any decent firm will want to know. If they are unaware, they will be unable to act.
Make notes of any occasions where you feel the narcissist has acted unprofessionally and caused harm to either you or the business and its reputation. Remember to note down the names of any witness, too, to enable them to corroborate your story. This evidence will support you, particularly if any counter claims are made, which is highly likely along with gaslighting.
Avoid becoming personal
Maintain a strictly work-based relationship with a narcissistic co-worker. Every time they glean a bit of personal information from you, revealing your vulnerabilities, they will use this to their advantage. Keep conversations solely about the firm and the work you are carrying out to avoid them having any further ammunition to potentially use against you in the future.