Working With A Narcissist? 13 Common Mistakes To Avoid

working with a narcissist mistakes

Working with a narcissistic person can be nothing short of a living nightmare. However, the good news is that if you know what to do, and what NOT to do when engaging with them, you’ll have an easier time working with them. As long as you avoid making certain mistakes, you will be okay.

13 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Working With A Narcissist

Mistake 1 – Call A Narcissist A Narcissist To Their Face

Calling a narcissist a narcissist, no matter how true it may be, won’t help. Additionally, naming someone a narcissist is unprofessional unless you are a mental health practitioner who has been licensed and who has been provided with enough access to diagnose NPD (narcissistic personality order).

Mistake 2 – Call A Narcissist A Narcissist Behind Their Back

Again, this is indulgent and unprofessional. Instead, use facts.

  • As I reviewed the recording of my presentation, I noted that Joe interrupted me 10 times mid-sentence. Do you have any advice?
  • When I gave Sue the feedback questionnaire, she laughed and dumped it in the rubbish without looking at it. What are my options?

Related: 18 Signs Of A Narcissistic Co-Parent and How To Deal

Mistake 3 – Try To Reform The Narcissist

Stop trying to help the narcissist to see their problems and errors. Instead, work on your own responses and engagement. How can you respond calmly and firmly the next time the narcissist crosses your boundaries? How many deep breaths did you take before responding to the narcissist’s last round of excuses?

We are not suggesting that you tolerate workplace abuse; we are suggesting that you refuse to over-function by taking responsibility for buffering or moderating the narcissist’s poor behavior.

narcissist
Working With A Narcissist? 13 Common Mistakes To Avoid

Mistake 4 – Report Problems Based On Feelings Instead Of Evidence

Whether your organization has a formal or informal feedback system, your observations will be better received if they are based on evidence rather than feelings.

Less Effective: It is extremely difficult to work with this person.
More Effective: This person has been late to work 20 out of the last 40 days.

Less Effective: Everyone avoids working on a team with this person.
More Effective: I created graphics for a presentation on Tuesday. On Thursday, this person used my graphics in a different meeting and insinuated that both the graphics and ideas were her own.

Mistake 5 – Make The Narcissist Think That Your Ideas Are Their Ideas

Although rubbing the ego of a narcissist is tempting (because it often works), most of us find this kind of coping behavior to be demeaning, dishonest, and disingenuous.

Tricking a narcissist into thinking your ideas are their ideas may work to promote your ideas, but it will not promote your mental health or self-respect. Using flattery to reduce a narcissist’s insecurity is a form of unhealthy enabling.

Related: Narcissistic Leaders — The Destructive Lies They Tell Themselves and Others

Mistake 6 – Give Feedback Alone

If you are in a situation to give a narcissist feedback, ask someone else to be with you. Narcissists do not usually take feedback well and may become angry, lash out at you personally, and seek revenge. To avoid a he-said-she-said situation, invite a third party to be in the room when you deliver feedback to a narcissist.

Mistake 7 – Give Feedback In A Large Group

Most people do not relish negative feedback given in a public setting or in front of a large group. Narcissists find such a situation especially humiliating and may be expected to react poorly.

Mistake 8 – Take Life Too Seriously

Better to laugh than to cry at the absurdities of life. When you have to deal with a toxic personality at work, your sense of humor can help limit their power to affect you. Be the bigger person. See the narcissist as weak and childish rather than scary and powerful. Meditation may be a powerful tool for changing your paradigm.

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Rebecca Zung

Rebecca Zung is a Narcissism Negotiation Expert and one of the Top 1% of attorneys in the nation, having been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Lawyer in America”, as “Legal Elite” by Trend Magazine, and recognized by her peers and the judiciary as AV preeminent rated in family law, the highest possible rating for an attorney by Martindale Hubbell. She is the author of bestselling books, Negotiate Like You M.A.T.T.E.R: The Sure Fire Method To Step Up And Win (foreword by Robert Shapiro), and Breaking Free: A Step-By-Step Divorce Guide For Achieving Emotional, Physical, And Spiritual Freedom, and is a sought-after major media contributor. Her perspectives are in high demand by television and print outlets, as she has been featured in or on Extra, Forbes, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Time, Dr. Drew, NPR Talk Radio, Good Day New York, and CBS Los Angeles among others. Now based in Los Angeles, she is continuing to serve through her very popular YouTube channel, media appearances, podcast, articles, and on-demand programs such as S.L.A.Y Your Negotiation TM with a Narcissist and Breaking Free TM Divorce Masterclasses.View Author posts