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Is there someone in your workplace who always has to draw attention to themselves? Or do you have a client whose demand for your focus go way beyond what’s necessary to service their needs? Does Dave really need to spend all that company time making TikToks? You might be dealing with a narcissist.
Two of a Kind
We all know the classic profile of a narcissist. Vain, arrogant egomaniacs, making everything about them. Wolves of Wall Street, Madonna, pretty much anyone you follow on Instagram. This is called Grandiose Narcissism, which as a name, frankly is just going to encourage them. But there’s another kind. Vulnerable Narcissism is less obviously self-centred, because it blames others instead of courting them. Sensitive and neurotic, these are the put-upon martyrs, the ‘I do everything around here even though everyone hates me’ types. Vulnerable Narcissists manage to soak up as much attention as Grandiose, just in a different way.
Entitlement is not a rude word
Entitlement gets a lot of flak nowadays, but actually, a bit of entitlement is a good thing. You should feel entitled to adequate compensation for your work. You are legally entitled to your breaks and your leave, plus you owe it to yourself to take them – if you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to make time for your illness, like the poster at the yoga studio says, only you don’t know that because you don’t have time to go. But there are some people for whom a sense of entitlement has grown to encompass all of the things, all of the time, and that can be a problem. Not for them, for you. So how do you handle it?
1. Be Understanding
You can’t fight it, Martha, it’s bigger than both of us. Narcissists don’t necessarily know they’re being self-absorbed. Their drive for the adulation and approval of others is actually a bit sad, pointing to a deep underlying insecurity. Narcissists respond to praise and recognition. It’s what motivates them. So praise the behaviour you want to see, and hope you get more of that.
2. Set Clear Boundaries
Narcissists are master delegators. Because they literally think their time is more important than yours, they’ll hand over as much as they can without a second thought. Don’t you think twice about saying no. Head them off at the pass: don’t wait until you’re exasperated and resentful, be firm upfront. Remember, both Grandiose and Vulnerable narcissists will happily take all the credit for your work – in fact, both actually think they did it.
3. Is it all bad?
Nope! Working with a Grandiose Narcissist can actually be great. Narcissism tends to go hand in hand with extraversion and assertiveness. They can be entertaining, energetic, even inspiring. They aspire to great heights and can see untrodden paths to glory that can elevate everyone, providing you don’t mind being in charge of the actual tramping and carrying the packs. Vulnerable Narcissists are focussed on problems, and because of that they can identify real issues that need resolving. Don’t encourage them too much though or there’ll be a dishwasher roster before Dave can make a TikTok about it.
Can We Help?
At The Pickering Group we know that you’ll encounter many different types of decision makers. To influence them effectively you need to know what makes them tick. You can’t browbeat a narcissist into seeing your side – you have to meet them where they are. Our Influence and Persuasion training gives you the tools to be heard, no matter who else is making noise. Join us on LinkedIn, or check out our in-person and virtual courses here.
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