Are you dealing with a narcissist at work? Narcissists tend to be charming people, the type that everyone gravitates towards. They leave you with a great first impression. They’re hard-working, their enthusiasm for the job is contagious, and they’re high-functioning. You can always count on them to get the job done and encourage their team to be successful.
But there’s another side to them. They will lie and manipulate to get their way, and they’ll do it without a shred of remorse. Generally, they can’t be reasoned with because they always need to be correct. They can be short-tempered when they don’t get their way, or someone tries to make them look bad.
Recognizing Narcissistic Tendencies
The first thing you must recognize is narcissism is a personality disorder. Whether it is a romantic partner, friend, coworker, or boss, being in a relationship with a narcissist can be very hard. An article on Psychology Today states, “A high level of narcissism, not surprisingly, can be damaging in romantic, familial, or professional relationships.”
With a narcissist, it is all about them, all the time! For the non-narcissist, it is exhausting to be considerate of others and not receive the same treatment and respect from them.
When dealing with narcissists, having firm, hardcore boundaries is essential to your self-care, making a firm stand against codependency, and protecting yourself.
Dealing With a Narcissist At Work
So how do you deal with working with narcissists when you can’t leave your job? Here are a few tips for making your work environment better:
1. Establish and Maintain Boundaries
It’s easy to keep saying yes to favors that a narcissist asks of you because they’re so nice when they ask, but this is their first step in manipulating you. Pretty soon, you’ll start to feel taken advantage of with all the favors and requests.
Feeling uncomfortable is an instinct you shouldn’t avoid. A narcissist will try to overrun your boundaries, make you feel guilty, or get angry at you. That’s their problem. Set boundaries for what you’re willing to work with and what you’re not, then stick to it. Don’t let someone else make you feel bad about respecting yourself.
2. Pick Your Battles
Sometimes peace of mind is worth more than winning an argument. Narcissists will try to manipulate you, sometimes by picking a fight with you. Don’t take their bait.
If it’s an argument not worth fighting, walk away. And if you strongly feel the need to say your piece, know that you’ll likely do so without being truly heard. Narcissists hear only what they want to. They will try to twist your words, call you names, and manipulate you into believing that something is your fault. It’s usually best not to engage them in an argument.
3. Document Everything
If you have an encounter with a narcissist in your workplace, your best course of action for the future is to document it.
If it’s through email, save the email. When it is in person, immediately send yourself an email to your personal account describing what happened in as much detail as possible and with as many exact quotes as you can remember, and describe the situation that led up to the encounter. Then save that email.
One encounter may not be enough to report the coworker, but a documented history of bad behavior will go a long way.
4. Report to HR
After several encounters, report the situation to your company’s HR department. Show them that you’ve been keeping detailed documentation of every situation and that you’re not willing to work under the current circumstances. Let them know that you expect them to deal with the situation immediately.
5. Take It One Step Further
If your company’s HR department is unwilling to do anything, it is your right to report your work situation to your state’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Working with a narcissist who mistreats you is considered a hostile work environment, and they take such claims very seriously.
Just make sure to cover your bases by informing your HR department that you plan to report your company if they don’t do anything. You will need to allow your company the opportunity to address the situation first.
Protect Yourself From Narcissists At Work
Working with a narcissist can create a challenging and difficult work environment for everyone involved. Protect yourself by setting boundaries and documenting every encounter.
If you find yourself in a situation like this at work and want to talk about how to navigate it and make a plan for your future, reach out to Rachel Schneider with Career Find for a free Intro Call.