5 Ways to Deal with a Narcissistic Co-Worker

Narcissists are extremely difficult people to be around. From their lack of empathy to taking credit for others’ efforts to actively looking for ways to hurt others, a narcissist in the workplace can make for a miserable office life. Narcissists can range from broody downers to harassing ego maniacs but they have one thing in common—they are notoriously hard to work with. If you have one (or more) narcissists in your workplace, here are five tips on how to effectively deal with them.

Take the High Road

Most narcissists love a conflict. They thrive on drama and are always looking for ways to make waves in an otherwise harmonious environment. Many narcissists are bullies and will concentrate their efforts on those they can get the biggest reactions from. If you are the subject of a narcissist’s bullying or dramatic ways, take the high road. Don’t engage in a conflict you can’t win and don’t waste precious time or energy defending yourself or your actions. By simply walking away or otherwise occupying yourself, you can save yourself the emotional upheaval and it’s likely the narcissist will look for someone else to pick on.

Keep Records

If you’re working on a project with a known narcissist, make sure you get everything in writing. When you communicate via email, you can better track what each of you has taken responsibility for. This will make it more difficult for the narcissist to take credit for your work or blame you if they miss a deadline or screw up their part of the project. Many narcissists will insist on verbal communication for the sole reason that there is no record of it.

Don’t Take it Personal

It’s important to realize a narcissist acts the way he or she does because of how he is and that it’s not personal. Most narcissists will try to play co-workers against each other and try to convince you that everything is your fault. If you fall into their trap, you can end up feeling unworthy, unliked, and very unhappy in your job. When you realize that how the narcissist speaks and acts has nothing to do with you, it’s much easier to detach and keep your self-esteem high.

Avoid Gossip

Narcissists loving stirring the gossip pot at work. They’re likely to try to cause problems between co-workers and enjoy spreading rumors and inciting gossip. It’s best not to get in any personal conversations with a narcissist, either about yourself or others in the office. You should also avoid gossiping about the narcissist with your co-workers even though this can be tough to resist. Any office gossip is negative and will eventually hurt morale.

Know When to Get Out

If your office is full of narcissists, it might be a sign that there is something wrong with management. Though any company can experience the negative effects of a narcissist, those that encourage them to stay or promote them could be experiencing deeper leadership problems. If you’ve noticed that your narcissistic co-workers are continually getting ahead at work and that more of them are being hired, it could be your sign to find a different place to work.

Narcissists have deep levels of low self-esteem and unresolved issues that can make them difficult or hurtful to work with. Use the above five tips to keep the peace and your sanity at the office and know when it’s time to find a more harmonious environment.