How to deal with a narcissist at work

Narcissists are everywhere.  Many of you are fully aware of them and pained to know how to deal with a narcissist at work, at social events and even in a relationship. Because the reality is they work, live and cohabit amongst all of us every day.

However, others of you are unaware of this personality disorder, particularly as narcissists are brilliant at shielding their true selves.  They are chameleons fitting into whatever situation is required, so we don’t detect who they truly are, until it’s too late.

Narcissists are predators, yet they are often the most charming, popular and charismatic person you may have worked with, grew up with or, if you are like me, married one.  Understanding a narcissist, is the first step to your mental freedom.  Their psychological manipulation is so devastating, lethal and on-going, that long after the relationship has ended, a victim can still feel the repercussions for many years, as akin to a form of PTSD.

I have been inundated with messages, emails and calls, following my previous blog post published on ‘My Marriage to a Narcissist,’ on the website Mamamia, and I was devastated to receive from the many beautiful young women who have been affected by these nasty, cunning, and at times evil human beings.

What hit me as strong as a tsunami wave was the number of young women who had come into contact with a hideous narcissist within your workplace, as I too have had the experience of.  Whether this was a colleague or your worst nightmare your boss.  I too have experienced this, as working with the international financial markets, in London, Hong Kong and Sydney, is the perfect melting pot, where narcissists thrive!

how to deal with a narcissist at work

I can still recall the stress that would begin on late Sunday afternoon, contemplating my week ahead, and the stress headaches would begin.  The humiliation of being yelled at from across a very large office, from my manager at the time, for a misdemeanour so insignificant it’s not worth writing about.

This manager did not have the decency to stand up and walk to my desk, she would prefer yelling from her office for greater humiliation.  The memory of this event, which occurred time after time, still makes my stomach clench, remembering the stress and the utter humiliation I felt.  The level of stress it caused me began to eat away at my once strong self-esteem, and worse I began to question every decision I was required to make within my role.   I began to doubt myself as I did not understand I had slowly, but surely, lost my self-belief and my confidence.

In hindsight, I understand my manager relished this humiliation, as it fed her ego even further.  Narcissists enjoy finding fault in us the lesser (in their eyes) of human beings.  As they are on a pedestal in their heads.  I can recall a corporate lunch with a client, when she actually stated with sincere honesty, that quote ‘We are different from most, we are above most in life, and it feels great!’   I can remember her saying this and waiting for the punch line of a joke, yet that was never to arrive as she was serious! 

So why did I put up with this humiliation? 

I loved the actual role I was in, I truly respected and enjoyed my colleagues and, most importantly, the company was world renown and was an absolute must for my CV. In addition, I was young.  However, if I knew then what I know now, a huge amount of stress could have been removed from the equation.  One point I am proud to make, when I understood what I was up against, I realised the only clear solution was to exit the company and secure a wonderful new role, which is exactly what I did. 

Narcissists number one goal is to look and be seen as the best.  Often at your or your colleague’s detriment, because they don’t care, it’s all about them.

How to deal with a narcissist at work

When I work with a client, we go through key steps so you can learn how to deal with a narcissist at work or in your relationship. Here’s how to start:

1.  Signs your colleague is a narcissist

Before you can discover how to deal with a narcissist at work, you need to spots the signs. Let’s start with your colleagues.

  1. Stealing your ideas. Your colleague on more than one occasion, steals your original idea and takes the credit.
  2. Continual lying. You have caught your colleague blatantly lying on more than one occasion, to change the story to shed them in a more favourable light.
  3. Sudden promotion. You suddenly find your colleague who is not as talented or hard-working than you or your other colleagues suddenly promoted, and you will realise they are in a secret relationship with management.  This one I have seen too many times!
  4. They are not team players. This is an obvious sign when you have to work within a group.  Narcissists can’t work within a team, as they have to win at all costs.
  5. Ridicules you openly in meetings. This is the worst of the worst, and boy are they good at this.  This is a way they grandiose their accomplishments to management above them at your detriment.  This is a real sign and one to note early, as they won’t change their pattern.  Do not allow them to get away with this.  If they have bene disrespectful take it up with management, but ensure you document, document, document.

2.  Actions to take if you understand your colleague is a narcissist?

  1. Document, document, document.   Yes, that’s right get everything in   The good old email will be collateral in any disagreement that may occur.  Do not ever rely on verbal anything.  In addition, document all your successful accomplishments constantly to keep up to date.
  2. Don’t divulge any ideas to them. Keep all your ideas, your plans to yourself, so then they can’t steal anything from you.
  3. Keep your private life extremely private. Don’t divulge any personal information whatsoever.  Narcissists are experts at extracting information on your private life, that they can and will manipulate to create gossip and innuendo at your detriment.  Beware!
  4. Don’t create an argument. There is no point trying to argue with a narcissist, as they can’t be found to be incorrect.  Its best to engage with a narcissist as little as you are required.
  5. Make solid plans to leave if you find this environment stressful, without any support from your management.

Blocking any communication is harsh but extremely wise.  You can’t have an ex-partner who is a narcissist in your life as a ‘friend’ as all they will continue to do is sabotage your life, your relationships and your future.   Cut, cut, cut all social media TODAY!

3.  Signs your boss is a narcissist

As with a colleague, before you can discover how to deal with a narcissist at work when they’re your boss, you need to spots the signs. Here are some key signals.

  1. New staff are becoming younger.   They often employee younger, more malleable staff, who have not quite found their voice as yet, to ensure they have total control over those who report to them, in simpler terms these staff members are ‘Yes’ people. 
  1. They have favourites. This is so common.  They don’t treat their staff equal.  They have absolute favourites, like a teacher with school students.  Their favourites also idolise the narcissist boss, as they find traits within the narcissist that they wish they had.  Their staff member who is selected as their favourite, will remain so as long as they continue to support their boss in whatever they require, which makes their boss look even better.  The staff member is blinded to this, as they are under the magical spell of the narcissist, until such time they displease their boss and they will be banished to the Siberia of the workplace, and replaced in a millisecond by some other willing participant.
  1. They adore praise. You can clearly see that when anybody praises anything related to your boss, whether it be their dress sense, their new house, their children’s achievements, whatever it may be, you can see the adoration in their eyes, as this all feeds through to their grandiose ego
  1. They lack empathy. When one of your colleagues is having a family crisis, their only concern is with their work, nothing to worry about the emotional well-being of your colleague.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Narcissists often have to have the LAST and FINAL say.  If you resign as you are stressed, overworked, underpaid, and simply so unhappy and don’t have a new position to go to, DON’T allow a Narcissist boss to entice you back?


It will most probably be a trap, to entice you back so then they can SACK you for something so minor and petty.  They do this to ensure they have the upper hand particularly with your future.  This is so important and so easy to believe a Narcissist has changed their ways when actually they are two steps ahead of you planning your demise.

4.  Actions to take if your boss is a narcissist?

LEAVE – its not defeat, it’s the cleverest measure to preserve and promote your career.

  1. Plan your exit strategy.

This must be completed with the detail of a SAS contingency plan and I’m not being sarcastic, I’m deadly serious.  If you speak with head hunters do it under the tightest of secrecy, to not allow any trace of gossip or innuendo to travel back to your current work place.  Why?  This is where your boss can absolutely ruin your career.  If you are working for a Narcissist you are good.  They won’t have anybody working for them that is not good, as the better the staff reporting to a narcissist the better they look.  So if they find any trace that you are about to leave, they take this extremely personally and it’s not about your future career advancement, it’s all about them.  They would sabotage any chance you had to improve yourself, and then if they found this out you may lose out on the role and then your life at your current position will simply be hell.

  1. Update your CV with all achievements.

Before your leave your current position, finalise an audit over all your achievements you have accomplished, to ensure you don’t overlook anything, to ensure your CV is up to date. It is better to have this completed while you are still employed, with all the relevant information at hand, rather than relying on memory when you have departed the company.  This is particularly beneficial with figures, which can be easily forgotten.

  1. Don’t inform your colleagues. Don’t mention a word to any of your colleagues until you have signed the dotted line to your new role.
  1. Resign after you have the signed contract in your hands and not a minute before.

When the contract is signed, sealed and delivered and you have the contact in your hands, resign then with dignity and then it’s time to celebrate as boy do you deserve this!

If you are in a situation and you feel you could do with some guidance, please reach out to me at any time, or download my begin recovery from a narcissist relationship.

If you are in a situation and you feel some guidance will help you, please reach out to me at any time, or Download here my  my FREE 5 Day Recovery From A Narcissistic Relationship, to help you begin your healing process.

5 day narcissistic relationship

Have a beautiful day.

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