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Working with Narcissistic Personalities


Posted by Kathy Rogers | Learning & Development Consultant on 6 June 2019




In a work environment we are often interacting with people we wouldn’t choose to be around ordinarily. This can lead to personality clashes, which can make working together a challenge.   A behaviour trait receiving attention in the media is Narcissism.



Narcissism can be a trait often found in the work world, with behaviours often perceived as both drivers of success and, on the other end of the spectrum, quite harmful.    


There are varying degrees of narcissism; narcissistic personality traits are common and some of them can be found in many individuals to a greater or lesser extent.

You probably know someone who likes public praise and grabs the attention of the entire office to tell their funny stories. They probably have a few narcissistic tendencies.   They can often be over achievers, can break the rules, charm and be persuasive.  


When there are more than a couple narcissistic tendencies, they have a narcissistic personality disorder and are very hard to work with.

Here are some typical signs of a narcissistic personality:


  • Believe self to be special
  • Arrogant and self-centred
  • Strong sense of entitlement
  • A grandiose sense of importance
  • Preoccupation with own success
  • A need for excessive praise and admiration
  • Lack of empathy
  • Super sensitive to criticism or feedback
  • Highly critical of others, often bullies
  • Manipulative and demanding


Narcissists will go to any lengths to preserve their idealized, grandiose image of themselves because it hides deep feelings of insecurity.


Dealing with this type of behaviour can be distressing, exhausting and can leave you second guessing yourself. It undermines your self confidence and is highly destructive in any relationship.


Self-preservation is key when you are spending long periods of time with someone who is extremely self-focused. One thing to realise when working with a narcissistic personality type is to accept you are never going to change them. Accept when working with them it will be all about them and minimal teamwork.


Here are a few things you can do to minimise the impact your narcissistic colleague has on you:



  • Have confidence in your own abilities and document your achievements at work.
  • If working on the same project, ensure you update your manager along the way with what you have achieved and contributed. So, at the end of the project your manager knows how it was completed and what part you played.
  • Maintain your own self-esteem and reflect on the work you have achieved for yourself.
  • Set your own boundaries and don’t doubt yourself
  • Write everything down. Any instructions you are given, ensure to get them emailed to you. If you are having issues down the track you can use these notes if you need to talk to management later on.
  • When you have moments of fun working with them, compliment their behaviour. Behaviour is repetitive, so by complimenting them on a specific action, you are reinforcing that positive experience in a way that connects to directly with them.
  • Spend as much time as possible away from them.
  • Surround yourself with positive people that feed your self esteem to counter the negative impacts they have



Working in an environment where narcissism exists can be very draining, so focus on what you can control, and ensure you get the time you need to recharge at the end of the day.



Here is a link to a really good article:



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