How to identify narcissists at work—and when to avoid them

You hear quite a bit about narcissists at work—and most of what you hear is unhealthy. There may be good purpose for that. Some narcissists could be completely harmful to your office. So, it can be crucial to have the option to distinguish between individuals who act with confidence and those that are narcissists. It’s additionally useful to have the option to decide whether or not you’re coping with a poisonous narcissist or a extra benign selection.

Self-confident or narcissistic?

One of many large distinguishing options of narcissists is that they consider that they’re particular, and that data and affect ought to circulation from them to the world fairly than the reverse. Because of this, narcissists will usually act with nice authority in conditions and can usually show numerous boldness and self-confidence.

However, not all self-confident individuals are narcissists. So, how do you distinguish one from the opposite?


Rather a lot has to do with how a lot an individual listens to others and incorporates different folks’s concepts into their very own with an acknowledgement that different folks’s concepts and contributions have had an affect. Narcissists take the lion’s share of the credit score for successes whereas passing the blame for failures on to different folks (or to the scenario). Narcissists will both ignore the concepts of others or co-opt them as their very own.

To search out the narcissists, then, you will have to look previous the brash exterior and actually hear to how they deal with others. Many self-confident individuals are snug listening to dissent, to taking options, and to spreading credit score. The narcissists usually bristle at dissent, ignore options, and hoard the credit score.

So, what do you do?

How you need to cope with the narcissist in your midst depends upon the breed of narcissist you’re coping with. There are two broad forms of narcissists. Grandiose narcissists are individuals who really feel particular, however have a robust sufficient sense of self that they aren’t deeply threatened by different folks or their concepts. They don’t essentially take different folks’s views under consideration, however they don’t work actively to undermine different folks. Actually, they usually like to affiliate with different vital folks, as a result of it reinforces their sense of how particular they’re. It shouldn’t be stunning that there are numerous grandiose narcissists in seen positions like elected workplace, theater, and the C-suite in lots of organizations.

Grandiose narcissists within the office want to be dealt with with a bit of care, however they aren’t notably harmful. You’ll be most profitable working with them when you acknowledge how particular they’re and when you get them to suppose that the plan of action you hope they take was their concept (and permit them to take the credit score for it). It helps when you additionally visibly take a few of their options in order that they see the affect they’re having on you.

Susceptible narcissists are a distinct matter. Susceptible narcissists have a fragile self-concept. They use the love and accolades of others to prop up their shallowness. Because of this, weak narcissists will really feel threatened when different folks round them criticize them. They downplay the successes of others. They’re joyful to be seen with different highly effective folks so long as no person says that these different individuals are extra highly effective or vital.

The hazard with a weak narcissist is that they may actively tear down individuals who make them really feel threatened. They’re additionally inclined to fly into narcissistic rages during which they lash out at individuals who have criticized them or have in any other case taken the highlight. They can even go to nice lengths distance themselves from failures and can even revise the historical past of their position in failures to decrease the looks that they contributed to an issue.

While you work with a weak narcissist, your life could be depressing. It’s possible you’ll be the topic of tirades within the office. You might be unlikely to get acknowledged for good efficiency, as a result of the narcissist will take credit score in your successes. You’ll get shouldered with the blame for failures—even ones you might not have performed an element in.


For all of those causes, it’s best to avoid having to work with weak narcissists in no matter approach you’ll be able to. In the event you’re working for a weak narcissist, switch out. In case you are working with one at a parallel degree, attempt to decrease the interactions you will have with them. And if in case you have a possible consumer or buyer who’s a weak narcissist, suppose twice about whether or not you really need their enterprise. Even when they’re being good to you at the second, the time will come when their ire can be directed at you—and it received’t be fairly.