Narcissism Gets You Nowhere

One day at work, a colleague of mine convinced me to go for a run with her later that day. We got on well, for the most part.

We met up at a local park. We started chatting; with every topic that came up I noticed that she somehow managed to steer the conversation in her direction – we basically only spoke about her. All about her past, her achievements, her failures (that weren’t her fault), and her cooking style (that’s apparently the only good way). That was when I realised that my friendly, chatty colleague was a bit of a narcissist.

Needless to say, by the end of our hour and a half “run”, I was more tired of hearing about her than I was from the exercise.

From that day forward I would always try and avoid her, but she somehow managed to speak to me, constantly asking for an opinion on some of her projects – it seemed like she was always fishing for compliments. However, one day I gave her my honest opinion on one of her projects, that wasn’t really done up to standard, and she did not react well.

She soon got a supervisory role in our team, and slowly my other colleagues were starting to get fed up with her attitude and her mindset of ‘my-way-or-the-highway’. I even heard rumours that management regretted promoting her.

Her narcissistic behaviour made the atmosphere in the workplace tense. Even though we all tried to do our jobs as professionally as we could, every single person disliked her.

At the end of the day we aren’t at work to make friends, however, how can you work with someone that only thinks about themselves?

Working together as a team is important, but there is no space for narcissistic traits such as:

Constant self-promotion

It’s one thing to drop one’s name here and there, but it’s another to constantly do it. Self-promoting is encouraged, to a certain extent. Every single person in a team has something to be proud of, but no one wants to listen to someone constantly talking about their achievements and aspirations.  

Air of entitlement and victimisation

Walking around, thinking that you’re on a much higher level than everyone else, won’t go down very well. Feeling superior and entitled to more, when you have no reason to feel that way, will only cause further dislike. Victimisation won’t get you any further either, trying to make out that no one understand your ‘unique’ and stubborn ways of doing things. We can all feel entitled to better and can even feel victimised, but there is a limit.

Hypersensitivity to criticism

Can’t bear being criticised? No space for that in a team. We all need to get criticised; we don’t like getting criticised, but we have to learn to get the most out of it. A team member who can’t handle critique or takes it too personally can cause heavy tension amongst the team.  

Constantly making excuses

Somehow it’s never their fault, it somehow ends up being someone else’s. There are always more excuses than answers. Working as a team, any failures or errors need to be taken as a team There are no spaces for self-absorbed people who are more than happy to take the success, and even say they were the cause of it, but aren’t willing to handle failure and error on their part.  

Taking everything personally

Criticism and any negative reviews shouldn’t be taken personally; it’s not an attack, but an honest opinion. People who take everything personally, think that everyone is trying to set them for failure when in actual fact no one really cares if that person succeeds or fails. Taking things personally only shows how self-absorbed a person really is.

Need to control everything

We all have that someone in our team that is a bit controlling, who needs to know and needs to check everything. However, with everything, there is a limit. Wanting to control every aspect of the team and work are signs of being over controlling. Every single person has their role and responsibility. Yes, there should be someone controlling a few aspects but not everything. The impulse and the need to control doesn’t always help in the long run.

Every single one of us has one, or a few, of these traits. It doesn’t make us a narcissist, it just makes us human. However, we need to learn to control these traits, and not let it affect our work and personal life. In the end, we all need to help ourselves and each other, share the successes and failures, criticise and learn from each other, and better yet evolve as better people. Sometimes being narcissistic can help you climb the ladder, but it won’t stop you from falling back down.  

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