Sometimes, achieving happiness in your job means knowing how to work with some tough people. This series of posts is for those 80% of workers who interact with at least one “toxic” co-worker, manager and subordinate day-to-day. Want to know more? Check out the introductory article to the series.
We’ve defined what a narcissistic personality looks like based on the the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association. Then, we looked at what it’s like to work for a narcissistic boss. But what if you work alongside the person in question, rather than working for them? Narcissistic co-workers present a whole separate set of challenges.
Here are some the obstacles you can expect to encounter:
- If you voice your concerns to them, they will have no real interest and will probably think they are pretty petty. Remember, they are only interested in things that impact them to worry about things that are important to you.
- They are going to make requests of you that are outrageous at best, but what’s really crazy is they are going to get angry with you if you don’t do what they want.
- They are never going to give you credit for things you do, which can result in you trying harder and harder to gain their approval. And even if you do succeed in impressing them (which they will never let you know, of course), this may actually backfire because you’ll only make them jealous of your work.
So, what can you do if you find yourself in this position? Here’s how you can help protect your sanity:
Just stop trying to change them. It’s really not going to work. Think about all of the frustrating interactions that you’ve had with this person…and then think about how many of those actions have centered around you trying to change them. That’s how many confrontations could have been easily avoided just by accepting that it is not your place to try to change them. You need to focus on coping with their particular brand of crazy.
Don’t take it personally. This has got to be your mantra when dealing with a narcissist. You can avoid a ton of self-blame by remembering that the problem lies with you, not with them.
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