Narcissism in the Workplace (Part 3) – What You CAN Do When You Need to Work With a Narcissist

“Don’t find fault; find a remedy.”  ~ Henry Ford

118848930You’ve just read the article on “How to Spot a Narcissist”. Shock hits… “Hey, I know that guy!”

Before you run for the nearest exit, here’s a sad fact – every workplace has at least one. In fact, one out of every 3 people will suffer some kind of mental illness or disorder in their life.

If you are going to be out in the world, working with other people, you are going  to encounter some narcissists.

You can still do your best work and love your job, if you take the right steps to protect yourself.

footprints-151189_150Step 1: Keep that “How to Spot a Narcissist” list handy. Refer to it often. If you see 5 or more of the narcissistic traits in a coworker, subordinate or boss, chances are your team will have challenges ahead.

Step 2: Study and practice everything in “What to AVOID When Dealing with a Narcissist”. If you don’t you are asking for problems. Saying “But that’s not fair!” will not help you, when a narcissist is focused on destroying you, because you tried to teach him/her a lesson.

Step 3:
Follow the steps below to proactively manage your day:


Know your “WHY” (per Simon Sinek). It’s hard to get pulled down a rabbit hole if you are on a straight, clear path. Know who you are, what you stand for, what’s important to you, and why you are here. ALWAYS take the high road in any conversation. As one brilliant person told me “Never wrestle a pig in the mud. “ (Pigs like the mud. You’ll never win.)

There is something powerful and inspiring about a person who has a clear and solid “WHY”. The narcissist won’t understand his/her inability to phase you, and will likely respect you, or at least keep a respectful distance.


Manage your expectations. Just because this person is not pleasant, team focused, or caring, doesn’t mean he/she isn’t doing the job he/she was hired to do.

When you get hooked on the idea that “Bob needs to change!”,  your focus will turn in the wrong direction. Your work will suffer, and so will YOUR credibility. You cannot change anyone. You cannot expect anyone to change. That’s completely out of your control.

number-146023_150Actively listen. This is VERY hard to do, when you hear the usual self-promoting, manipulative “blah, blah, blah”. Most people stop talking when no one is listening. Narcissists DEMAND attention and will fester and create false stories in their heads about you when you do not listen to them. Trust me, you DON’T want a Narcissist creating stories about you. Though these stories are false, they can do damage. number-146024_150

Ask for more information about what the Narcissist is saying. In the process of clarifying, this person will have a chance to do the right thing, correct over-statements, give credit where credit is due and tame some “magical thinking”. Most of all, it will show you are actually paying attention and will dive into the facts deeper if needed. When catching a Narcissist in an inconsistency, be pleasant, never accusing and never excusing.  Stick to the “facts” as they are presented. Be gracious, as tempted as you are to call this person out.


Give genuine praise. You may be tempted to hold back praise to create balance (this person praises him/herself constantly, not recognizing others’ achievements). Be fair! Look for the good in ALL people you work with. Do not play favourites. When you reward someone appropriately for good behaviour, you reinforce that behaviour. Make sure you ONLY praise what is truly praiseworthy.

You want to stay as far removed from this person as possible. if you work together, complete avoidance is not realistic, or healthy.

Here are two special considerations:

If YOU REPORT TO a Narcissist – It’s your life and your career. If you are in a large 86481419company, you may be able to switch departments. Basically, you will never outperform a bad manager. If you make him/her look less competent, credible or followable, expect your life to be miserable. Do you really want to walk on egg shells every work day? Know your WHY and make a decision based on the RIGHT reasons for YOU.

If you a Narcissist REPORTS TO YOU – Do everyone on your team a favour.  Give rbc3_18this person full accountability to his/her own work, actions and non-actions. Reward good behaviour. Appropriately address bad behaviour. A Narcissist responds to authority better than to coworkers or subordinates (In fact, this person probably treats you extremely well, making you less inclined to confront him/her).

Never leave your crew alone to try to manage their work relationship with a Narcissist! You MUST lead! Contact me for the communication skills to handle problem people. Know what is really going on with your team members. Remove obstacles to their success.

For both of these scenarios DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!!! A true Narcissist is a convincing liar. Eventually, the web will come unraveled, giving you the perfect opportunity for an intervention.

Ready to have that intervention? Contact me for a FREE consultation  and a cheat sheet of best practices to follow.


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About Carol Carter

Carol is a team transformer. She cuts through the craziness and chaos of TODAY's workplace and helps leaders love their jobs again. Her live workshops and her online course "Transform Your Leadership" help people get "on track" and create REAL change that lasts, both professionally AND personally.
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