Are You Dealing With a Narcissist at Work? Signs You Are, and What to Do About It
What Made Them Pick You?
Dealing with a narcissist at work can completely consume your life, and even affect your physical and mental health. In this article I'm going to go over signs that your co-worker is a narcissist, and the actions you should take to protect yourself and your sanity.
You may be wondering, "Why am I their target?" Well, there are a few reasons narcisissts pick certain people to sabotage, and others to praise. You may become a target by:
- Having something they want
- Being really good at your job
- Being empathetic
They can't stand someone having a better position than them, or having more friends than them, or being more sweet than them. If they can sense that you are a good, caring person, they may decide they want what you have, and they know you're nice enough to not confront them.
So, What Are the Signs?
They Are Charming
Based on first impressions, the narcissist at work may be one of the most well-liked people on the job. They wouldn't become so likeable by being mean to everyone, so how do they get you to open up? They will charm your socks off. They listen intently to you, they appear caring, they are funny, outgoing. What's not to like? Well, the thing is, they can't keep up the charade forever. Their mask begins to fade and what lured you in starts to take a turn for the worse. A huge red flag to look out for here is that they are often "over the top" with compliments. With everybody.
The narcissist and I became friends very fast because of how nice she was at first.
What to do: Take your time to get to know people's true selves; take time to observe before you get too close to someone.
They Single You Out
Just as they were complimenting everyone in the room, they will purposely leave you out. It's subtle, and only you notice it.
What to do: The best thing to do is not react.
They Will Start to Intimidate You
When no one else is around, of course. You may get what I call the "death glare." You feel it, and can sense it, but it's still not enough to call them out on what they are doing. Because they're still so nice, and you're confused why they are treating you like this.
When I was going through this, the death stare I would get made me sick to my stomach. That's how piercing it was. It was pure hate. And if you've ever gotten that look, you know what I mean.
What to do: Don't make eye contact. She knew it bothered me, and liked me reacting and me worrying over "what I did wrong." The best thing I could have done was not react or even look in her direction. Strong boundaries can put a stop to this.
They Don't Take Criticism Lightly
They may take offense at something, like you talking about something that you can do but they can't. They may take offense at constructive criticism. And if you flat out tell them something they did bothers you, to try and clear the air, be prepared for backlash.
A narcisisst who is offended or has their ego wounded will turn everything around on you.
For example, although she was the one giving me the "death glare," when I had enough and brought it to her attention, she went to management telling them that I gave her dirty looks.
What to do: If you're feeling uncomfortable, go to management as soon as possible. That way if things escalate or get worse (which they tend to do with narcissists) then there is a record.
Narcisissts tend to "suck up" to their superiors. They may even be "best friends" with the boss, if this is the case, go to the next highest level of management.
Also: Document, document, document. Everything. What they did, when, where, were there any witnesses. For your own records and for your own protection.
They Will Talk About You
They will make sure everyone thinks that you are the one terrorizing them. They will forever be "the victim." All the while insisting that they are not one to lie or gossip.
They have no problem lying to others/talking about others for their benefit, but they hold others to a higher standard. If they find out that you went to someone, like management for example, and told the truth—gasp—all hell will break loose.
What to do: As hard as it is to not defend yourself, don't react or explain yourself. The calmer you are, the sooner their lies will come to light. People will see that what the narcisisst is saying does not match up with your character. Your peers may even make the connection that the narcissist is actually talking about themselves!
Sometimes it gets so bad that, without the proper support, you may even consider leaving that job. Dealing with people like this is no joke; they want you to suffer. Staying aware of what is going on and documenting and reporting things right away can help get a jump start on managing what is going on. Keep your boundaries strong and you may minimize your risk of being a target.
Have you worked with a narcissistic person? What was the outcome? How did you handle it?
If you have any other tips for readers, drop them in the comments below!
Thanks for reading.