Are you working with a Narcissist?

I have written many articles about Imposter Syndrome and I am absolutely determined that we don’t attach this label to ourselves because it’s the latest buzzword. So many men and women are appearing in my therapy room telling me they have imposter syndrome because they feel out of their depth due to over promotion or lack of experience and can’t do what is being asked of them. Whilst elements of this have roots in imposter syndrome, I believe that many of the people are misdiagnosing it because its prevalence in the media. They are more likely to be feeling the effects of limiting beliefs formed in childhood such as ‘I’m an outsider’ or ‘I don’t belong’ rather than the fear of being found out as a fraud.

There is also a more silent contributor to the misdiagnosis of imposter syndrome, and one that I have felt the effects of in the past, though looking back, I had no idea what I was dealing with. I felt helpless at times, often useless and looking back I realise I was more than capable. I’m talking about narcissism, and if think you might be working for or with a narc, you will benefit from this blog.

Narcissism in the workplace is a challenging issue that can have a detrimental effect on the performance of the organisation. If you are currently thinking about a person who takes lots a selfies and likes to catch their reflection in the glass panes of the office, you’ll be looking in the wrong place. Narcs in the workplace are more likely to engage in counter-productive behaviour and will most certainly believe themselves to be superior to others, have an inflated sense of their own value and an inherent need for deep admiration which is largely driven by profound insecurity. The latter point is worth noting. A true narcissist has a personality disorder, one that is difficult to treat. Whilst the non-narc might be left mouth open and wide-eyed at the behaviours displayed by the narcissist, the narc won’t even bat an eyelid because they genuinely don’t realise what how they think, act and behave is anything less than normal.

The other challenge we have is that there are many people who display narcissistic traits which they have picked up from true narcs. Like most things, there is a spectrum. This narcissistic culture exists when a significant leadership role in an organisation is assumed by a Narc. Corporate narcissism is then created.

So how do you know if you have a Narc in your midst?

All smiles & no action
Narcissists are wonderful at connecting with and convincing people to buy. They make great first impressions and are initially extremely likeable. Sadly they often lack the follow through to ensure a job or service is done well. They will miss deadlines and break promises and will be highly skilled at apportioning the blame to others. ‘It’s your fault this went wrong because you didn’t provide the document I needed.’

Me, me and more me
A narc will think nothing of hogging the whole conversation with tales of how amazing they are. They will show little or zero interest in anybody else, unless it is to criticise or pass judgement on others. They often have a fondness of the sound of their voice and if you change the subject, you’ll find it won’t be long before they have managed to turn the spotlight back on to themselves once again.

Listen to undermine
When the narcissist does allow you to lead the conversation or allow a group to discuss topics, you will find that they are generally looking for that opportunity to throw