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Narcissism: Dealing With Narcissists In Business & Life

We all carry a bit of narcissistic behavior in us but severe narcissism can be harmful for the people around. Often, especially in the workplace, avoiding a narcissist is not an option, so how can we cope with this toxicity and even find our way to make peace with it? 
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Narcissists can be everywhere; you may find them in your circle of friends, family, or work environment. As narcissists are masters in catapulting themselves in every forefront, you will likely find them in a leadership position. We all carry a bit of narcissistic behavior in us, and it is more triggered than ever. Through the rise of social media, professional success depends more and more on your ability to self-portray and personal branding. 

While those narcissistic traits can be annoying but harmless, severe personality disorders are dangerous. Extreme cases of narcissism can cause a lot of emotional damage as hidden narcissists have the power to weigh you down while making you believe you deserve it. They are highly manipulative as they find your weak spots and use them to their advantage. Narcissists are talented in bringing you to the point where you will make excuses for them and letting their toxic behavior affect you negatively. Encountering a narcissist can lead to severe self-doubt and even depression.  

Yet the more you learn about narcissism, the better you can detect it, cope with it and even find a way to make peace with it. To learn how to deal with narcissism, we need to understand it:

Learn more about Narcissism from our advisors on the Conscious Consulting Podcast

Understanding Narcissism 

Though narcissism can have different roots, often, the narcissist had a very deprived childhood and did not get enough love in the formative years. Narcissism is their way to overcompensate this lack of love. 

Narcissism can wear different faces: some narcissists need to constantly undermine people to elevate themselves to feel seen and heard. Another expression is constantly overperforming, desperately seeking to be in the limelight. Narcissists are very likely to be overachievers on the hunt for attention and recognition. Which they mainly get because of their charming and manipulating behavior. They are rewarded with praise and respect but not with love.

In a vicious cycle, the narcissist tries even harder to achieve more which is rewarded with more respect but still not more love. 

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Narcissists create an environment, where they shine. Therefore, everything around them must serve the purpose of feeding their egoistic needs for recognition and respect. A personality disorder is pretty dominant in the personality. It is masterfully integrated into the narcissist’s natural behavior. Unfortunately, that can lead to years of relationships with subliminal manipulation.

As the clinical psychologist Dianne Grande, Ph.D., writes in her article “Narcissism and Capacity for Change,” a narcissist will only change if it serves their purpose.

Being great is so fundamental to their identity that they can’t allow imperfection. The personality disorder makes it impossible for the narcissist to admit flaws or weaknesses, making self-reflection and personal growth very difficult. 

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

Viktor Frankl

On the question of how to deal with a narcissist in one of our recent conversations with CCG’s advisor team, holistic science philosopher and advisor Claudius van Wyk drew the analogy of a poisonous snake. 

“You can’t blame the snake for being poisonous, but you treat it like it’s poisonous.” The snake will attack when you make it uncomfortable. If flight is impossible, you need to find a way to manage the relationship for your sake.

The knowledge about the predominant personality disorder is the first crucial step as it distances yourself from the harmful behavior narcissist will throw at you. Setting clear boundaries can help you to prevent stepping on a landmine.

Hurt people, hurt people. Healed people, heal people.

What differentiates you from people with a personality disorder is rational thinking. As a Conscious Leader, you choose how to react or if to react at all. Not reacting, not responding doesn’t mean surrendering but actively taking away toxic energy and choosing not to be a partner in crime in the game of narcissism.

Equanimity is a good way of meeting or being with narcissists while not allowing them to come too close. Cut the personal aspect out of the conversation and make it solely transactional. It’s no contradiction to be compassionate while not engaging in the game.  

Narcissists love a good fight as it is their time to shine. Julia Culen advises that if a conflict comes up, distance yourself immediately and put up an imaginary stop sign, asking your opponent: “Why are you behaving like that all of a sudden?” Rational questions demand responsibility for the narcissist’s behavior and position yourself in clarity, where the blame is no longer on you.

Healing What is missing

Transformation can only happen through a deep look inside and from a genuine desire to change, since self-reflection and criticism have no place in the self-created universe, the actual change is unlikely. 

Being connected spiritually and filling the hurting lack inside could end the constant search for love in the outside world. Experiencing wholeness with the help of psychedelics like LSD or Ayahuasca may have a healing effect. 

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to help the narcissist, but there is a lot you can do to help yourself. 

If intervention is not possible, compassion is the only option.

Senior Advisor Yingzhao Liu reminds us to be kind to ourselves. Dealing with narcissists can be very depressing, as we realize we are not that powerful to improve every relationship. Accept and be aware that you are dealing with a deeply hurt person. Anticipate your own emotional ride with it.

Can You HAVE A GOOD RELATION WITH A Narcissist?

Narcissists are true energy vampires as they need the energy to fill their inner holes. That’s why it is advised to stay away as much as possible. But sometimes avoiding is not an option.

“Narcissists are masters inviting you over to their territory with sweet talk and aggression. Therefore they are master teachers as they are forcing us to respect and honor our own boundaries”, Christian Mayhofer, Founder of CCG, says in our podcast conversation.

Challenge yourself and betray the narcissist next to you as a learning opportunity for growth and spiritual deepening. Embrace their narcissism as it demands your entire presence and helps you shape your boundaries. Go even deeper and try to cultivate a sense of compassion for the narcissist. Feel their need for love in the next undermining conflict. Without trusting them, love them for who they are. Sometimes narcissists guide us to a deeper spiritual level we would not access without them otherwise.

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