Surviving The Toxic Workplace: How To Deal With A Narcissistic Coworker


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How To Deal With A Narcissistic Coworker In 9 Effective Ways

Do you feel stressed and drained due to toxic coworkers? Dealing with a narcissistic coworker can surely be challenging, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to tolerate their toxicity. Here’s how to deal with a narcissistic coworker.

What is a narcissist coworker like?

We have all experienced our fair share of toxic coworkers at the workplace. They lie, they steal, they manipulate, they control, they gaslight, they abuse and after all that when their plans fail, they play the victim. 

Narcissistic coworkers consistently exhibit negative behavior in the workplace, causing harm or disruption to others around them. This person may –

  • Create a hostile or uncomfortable work environment
  • Make it difficult for others to perform their jobs effectively
  • Create a negative atmosphere impacting morale and productivity
  • Engage in bullying, gossiping and humiliating others
  • Be controlling, demanding and overly critical

The situation can be much worse when you are up against a coworker with exhibitionist narcissism. A person with exhibitionistic narcissistic disorder typically has an inflated sense of self-importance and seeks constant attention and admiration from others due to poor self-esteem. 

This can make them extremely selfish and manipulative as they put their own needs above others. Hence, coworkers with exhibitionist narcissism can easily create a toxic work environment filled with drama and chaos.

A narcissistic coworker may have a sense of entitlement and believe they deserve special treatment or privileges. As they lack empathy, a narcissistic coworker can be difficult to work with leading to conflicts and issues within the team and the organization.

Understanding what a toxic coworker is like will help you in figuring out how to deal with a narcissistic coworker in a healthy and positive way.

Related – 8 Types Of Mental Abuse: Alarming Narcissistic Tactics

Signs of a narcissist coworker

The first step in dealing with a coworker who has an exhibitionistic narcissistic disorder or is exhibiting exhibitionist narcissistic traits is to recognize their behavior. 

Dealing with a  narcissistic coworker
Surviving The Toxic Workplace: How To Deal With A Narcissistic Coworker

Some common signs of an exhibitionist narcissistic coworker include

  • An inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement.
  • Lack of empathy for others.
  • A tendency to exploit or take advantage of others.
  • Need for admiration and attention.
  • Tendency to be arrogant and dismissive of others.
  • Lack of self-awareness and insight into their own behavior.

If you find yourself dealing with a coworker with exhibitionist narcissism, it can be challenging to know how to navigate the situation. 

Related – 7 Common Myths About Narcissistic Personality Disorder

If you are struggling with such a situation and want to know how to deal with a narcissistic coworker. Read on!

How to deal with a narcissistic employee

Now that you know about the signs of a narcissistic coworker, let’s discuss how to deal with a narcissistic coworker to maintain your productivity and mental well-being. 

Whether you’re a manager or a colleague, these tips will help you navigate this tricky situation with confidence and professionalism.

1. Set boundaries

One of the most important things about how to deal with a narcissistic employee is to set boundaries. Narcissists may try to take advantage of you or exploit your kindness, so it’s important to be clear about your limits and expectations. This might include

  • Saying no to unreasonable requests or demands
  • Refusing to engage in arguments or conflicts
  • Setting limits on the amount of time you spend with the coworker
  • Being clear about your role and responsibilities in the workplace

When setting boundaries, it’s important to be firm and assertive, but also respectful and professional.

2. Don’t engage in their drama

A narcissist coworker’s goal is often to get a reaction out of you. They thrive on attention, and they will do whatever it takes to keep the focus on themselves. By engaging in their drama, you’re giving them exactly what they want.

If your coworker tries to start an argument or create conflict, resist the urge to respond in any kind. Instead, take a deep breath and remain calm. If necessary, remove yourself from the situation and take a break to regain your composure.

If you find it difficult to ignore their drama or conflict, try to shift your focus to something positive. For instance, you could spend some time brainstorming new ideas or working on a project that excites you. 

This will help you maintain a sense of purpose and direction, even in the face of a difficult coworker.

3. Don’t try to change them

It’s natural to want to change someone’s behavior if it’s causing problems in the workplace, but with narcissistic individuals, this can be a futile effort. These individuals rarely change their behavior, and attempting to change them can lead to frustration and wasted energy.

Instead, focus on managing your own reactions and interactions with them. This can help you maintain your sanity and protect your own emotional well-being in the workplace. Remember, you cannot control their behavior, but you can control how you react to it.

4. Stay calm and composed

Dealing with a narcissistic coworker can be frustrating and stressful, but it’s important to stay calm and composed in your interactions with them. 

Narcissists might try to provoke you, so it’s important not to react emotionally. Instead, try to remain objective, professional, and focused on the task at hand. 

For instance, if they try to take credit for your work, politely but firmly let them know that you won’t tolerate it.

5. Document everything

Documenting your interactions with a narcissist coworker can be crucial in protecting yourself and your work environment. 

Here are some reasons why you should consider keeping a record of their behavior

A. Evidence for future reference

Having a written record of any incidents or interactions that made you uncomfortable can serve as evidence if you need to bring the issue to HR or management. It’s important to have a clear and detailed account of what happened and when it happened.

B. Helps you remember details

In a high-stress environment, it’s easy to forget specific details or incidents. By writing everything down, you can ensure that you have an accurate and detailed account of what happened.

C. Helps you stay objective

Keeping a written record can help you remain objective when dealing with the situation. By having a record of their behavior, you can avoid getting caught up in their drama and focus on finding a solution.

Remember to keep your documentation professional and objective. Stick to the facts and avoid including personal opinions or emotions. This can help you avoid any potential legal issues and ensure that your documentation is taken seriously.

6. Focus on your strengths

Dealing with a narcissistic coworker can be challenging and frustrating, especially if they try to undermine your confidence and make you doubt your abilities. 

However, it’s essential to remain focused on your strengths and capabilities and not let their behavior affect your performance. 

When you notice negative thoughts about yourself, reframe them in a more positive light. For instance, if you think, “I’m not good enough,” change it to “I am skilled and capable.”

7. Don’t take anything personally

Remember that their behavior is a reflection of their own insecurities, and try not to affect your self-esteem. Don’t take their behavior as a reflection of your own worth or abilities.

Narcissistic coworkers may try to undermine your confidence by criticizing you or your work. Don’t internalize their criticisms or let them make you doubt yourself. Remember your strengths and capabilities, and don’t let their behavior affect your performance.

8. Focus on your own self-care

When trying to learn about how to deal with a narcissistic coworker, remember, you are not responsible for the narcissistic coworker’s behavior, but you are responsible for taking care of yourself and your own well-being.

It’s important to focus on your own self-care when dealing with a narcissistic coworker. This might include

  • Taking breaks and practicing self-care activities like yoga or meditation
  • Engaging in hobbies or activities that bring you joy
  • Setting realistic goals for yourself
  • Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
  • Avoiding taking on too much responsibility or stress in the workplace
how to deal with a narcissistic coworker
Surviving The Toxic Workplace: How To Deal With A Narcissistic Coworker

9. Consider seeking help from the management

If you have tried every possible way to manage your narcissist coworker and their behavior is still causing issues in the workplace, it may be time to seek help from management. 

While it might be uncomfortable to bring up the issue to higher-ups, it is important to remember that their job is to ensure a safe and productive work environment for all employees.

Here are some points to consider when seeking help from management regarding a narcissistic coworker

A. Schedule a meeting

Request a meeting with your manager or HR representative to discuss your concerns. It is important to come prepared with specific examples of the problematic behavior and how it has impacted your work environment.

B. Present facts, not opinions

When discussing the issue with management, it is important to remain objective and present facts rather than opinions. Stick to specific instances of behavior that have affected your work and the overall work environment.

C. Propose solutions

Rather than simply bringing up the problem, it is helpful to come to the meeting with potential solutions for managing the behavior. This shows that you are taking a proactive approach to the situation and are willing to work towards a solution.

D. Ask for guidance

Management may have experience dealing with similar situations and can offer guidance on how to handle the behavior. They may also have specific policies or procedures in place for managing workplace conflicts.

Related – The Anatomy Of Narcissism: Toxic Narcissistic Personality

Professionalism trumps narcissism

How to deal with a narcissistic coworker can be a challenging question, but it is possible to manage the situation effectively. 

It is important to maintain a professional attitude, establish clear boundaries, and document any problematic behavior. Remember to prioritize your own well-being and mental health, and don’t let the behavior of a narcissistic coworker affect your work or personal life.

narcissist coworker
Surviving The Toxic Workplace: How To Deal With A Narcissistic Coworker

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  1. Paula Sayers Avatar
    Paula Sayers

    Great advice but when the team member has been in the office multiple times and nothing is done except for management baking them up because they have been a cleaner for years and says yes to every shift offered. Management favour this.

    1. Sesi Mahlobogoane Avatar
      Sesi Mahlobogoane

      I agree ☝️ Some managers don’t know how to deal with narcissistic behaviour and thus enable it to the point of being destructive!

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