DEALING WITH A NARCISSISTIC COLLEAGUE; How to Manage Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Written byTBOG

Workplace Emotions Consultant | Family Wellness Instructor | Certified Physiologist| Developmental and Social Psychologist | Managing Partner TSAGEandTBOG Consult | Cherie Blair Foundation Mentee Alumna | CoFounder Remake Africa

Jul 12, 2022

It’s almost a given that almost every office has that one person who doesn’t get along with the rest of the team.There are a variety of reasons why this may be the case. It could be that they just have different interests or in some cases, the situation is worse: the employee is just rude and unpleasant to be around. If it is the latter, perhaps this employee might have the dark triad personality traits? For this article, we will, however, focus on narcissism.



I think it’s absolutely important for you to understand what narcissistic behaviour looks like so that you can spot it quickly before you’re bent out of shape. If you don’t, you’re bound to experience a roller-coaster emotional ride when engaging such a colleague. Being connected with a narcissist is mind-bending and soul-ripping! You have to know what it is and protect yourself from it.

Here is a checklist of behaviours associated with narcissists [this is not an exhaustive list]:

  1. Gets triggered by things that most people don’t get upset by.
  2. Needs to be the centre of attention.
  3. Constantly switches conversations back to themselves.
  4. Expresses self in arrogant and superior ways.
  5. Threatened by others who are smarter or more attractive.
  6. Envious of other people’s success and pathologically jealous of who you spend time with.
  7. Needs to be the authority.
  8. Struggles to take direction from others.
  9. Demands special entitlement.
  10. Lack of compassion and consideration for others.
  11. Pathological lying.
  12. Manipulative
  13. Projects faults and blame onto others.
  14. Abusive and cruel when triggered.
  15. Switches between adoring and abhorring you.
  16. Refuses to take genuine responsibility.
  17. Unremorseful and doesn’t learn from mistakes.
  18. Makes excuses and justifications for unacceptable behaviour.
  19. Argues with defence mechanisms that make your head spin.
  20. Sabotages unity, love and peace. etc

Anyone who ticks above 15 of the traits highlighted is most likely a narcissist.


So, how do you work with a narcissist especially when you have no choice?

If you don’t already work with a narcissist, the chances of you working with a narcissist at some point in your career are very high. In fact, research has proven that narcissism is on the rise and has been for quite a while. It is sometimes possible to avoid and manage narcissism. But that isn’t always the case, especially in professional settings. The experience of working with narcissistic colleagues can be exhausting and frustrating. It’s extremely important to have realistic expectations, set appropriate limits, and manage your own emotions about the situation. Regardless of your role or industry, getting along with coworkers is undoubtedly important. You will often need to work together on various projects or when collaborating in meetings. That said, it’s crucial to learn how to deal with a narcissist because their abuse doesn’t have to affect you, no matter what the situation may be. Even though some dynamics can feel frustrating, you can improve how you cope.

The following are 10 tips on how to deal with a narcissistic coworker:

1. Don’t Take Things Too Personal: 

Narcissism has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your coworker’s personality and expectations. Sadly, you might be caught in their crossfire. The goal of the narcissist is to pin blame on others. So, when that happens, remind yourself that it’s not your fault. Additionally, taking things personally leads to more anger, impatience, and self-blame – all outcomes the narcissist anticipates you have. Don’t let him/her get to you.


2. Understand the Concept of Gaslighting:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse that entails someone questioning their sense of reality. In gaslighting, a person is coerced, manipulated, scapegoated, and deliberately lied to in order to question their belief in reality. Learning about narcissistic gaslighting can help you understand a coworker’s behaviour when you feel confused or even blindsided.


3. Maintain Realistic Expectations

It’s natural to wish that your coworker could take personal responsibility or practice more compassion towards others. But holding onto unrealistic standards may trigger even more resentment. It is unrealistic because the narcissist is not compassionate by design. Instead, try to focus on accepting your coworker for who they are. That doesn’t mean you have to like or condone the behaviour. Acceptance simply means you acknowledge reality for what it is.


4. Set Firm Boundaries

If there is one thing a narcissist is good at, it is to breach boundaries and make it look like you’re excessive for wanting to enforce them. It’s important to set appropriate workplace boundaries. These boundaries can be physical, mental, and emotional. Identifying and reiterating healthy boundaries is important for your well-being. You deserve to be treated with respect, and if your coworker cannot respect that, other actions need to be taken.


5. Remain Assertive

Submissive personalities are more appealing to narcissists. This is because they want to surround themselves with people who will enable them. It is therefore imperative that you remain assertive and firm in your values and beliefs. In order to disarm the narcissist and reduce their influence over your life, you should stand up for yourself more often. Your well-being is less affected by the narcissist if you stand up for yourself.


6. Document Offensive Behaviour

Unfortunately, narcissists often get away with toxic or unethical behavior because they often have excellent performance in the workplace. However, they tend to trample others in order to succeed. It is therefore important that whenever you notice concerning behaviours, jot them down. Even if you don’t plan to do anything about it in the immediate, having that evidence may be invaluable when a more serious issue arises. Especially because narcissists are masters at twisting situations to favour them.


7. Consult With Your Boss

You should address your concerns with your boss if issues continue to occur – or if tension escalates. When describing observable problems, be objective and write down any specific incidents. You don’t want to go to your boss with speculations and abridged versions of incidents knowing that the narcissist will manipulate himself/herself out of your report and pin it on you. You must be factual and objective.  Avoid bad-mouthing your colleague; instead, focus on emphasizing the issues (rather than the personality).


8. Be Mindful of Flattery or Love Bombing

Narcissists do gravitate towards certain people they deem as special or superior so as to rub off on their fame and build some clout with their influence. If this happens to you, they might project all their perfect fantasies onto you and shower you with love and attention. You may initially find this to be extremely rewarding. But it can quickly become love bombing, however, so proceed with caution. Eventually, they will recognize that you are just a human and that inevitable disappointment may lead to immense rage against you.


9. Don’t Engage in Gossip

General rule of thumb: gossiping or badmouthing your colleagues is never a good idea. But this rule is especially critical if you suspect that you’re working with a narcissistic colleague. They may [and most likely will] use anything you say against you. They don’t stop there. They might twist even benign statements into ones that fit their sense of reality. You don’t want to give a narcissist room to do this. It’s excruciatingly painful.


10. Avoid Sharing Personal Details

Stay minimal and professional at work. Narcissists may try to befriend others for their own emotional or financial advantage. This mindset may be strongest in the workplace. Instead, try to withhold divulging about your home life, family, or personal interests. In addition, make sure that you have turned on your privacy settings on social media (narcissism aside, this is good practice for almost all workplace settings!).



It is important to remember that narcissists are sick people and cannot help themselves. So, don’t let the effects of their “sickness” rub off on you and steal your joy. Narcissistic abuse can be traumatic, and narcissistic rage can make a workplace hostile, unsafe, and downright dangerous. So, maintain your professionalism and disengage from their behaviour. And if you can’t cope, please walk away. To employers reading this article, don’t hire solely on academic qualifications. Test emotional health during the hiring process because one narcissistic employee can set your organization back by many miles. Get Workplace Emotions Consultants to sit in on your interview board to help you sift through potential toxic employees.


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