At one time or another we have all encountered someone with narcissistic personality disorder, better known as NPD. It is not surprising to learn that NPD is reaching epidemic proportions in our society. Apparently this prevalence of this phenomenon has been increasing since the 1970s, and has seen significant increases even more recently with reality TV and social media, making the chances of you running into someone with NPD pretty high.
Knowing and dealing with someone with NPD is challenging, especially in the workplace. Several different types of NPD have been identified, but all have one thing in common...they love themselves. According to Vanessa Edwards, blogger and author of blog post, How to Deal with Narcissism in the Workplace, "Narcissists are commonly charismatic and charming, with considerable abilities to influence, cajole and persuade others. They are also often highly intelligent and gifted communicators. Many narcissists become very successful in terms of wealth, status or fame. They believe and act upon the belief that they are above the law, regulations and social norms, and only have to adhere to their own personal desires. As a result, they engage in destructive behaviors, often without consequences, which reinforces for them that they can "get away" with anything."
The fact that individuals who are narcissistic have their own reality, separate and apart from the rest of humanity, is where the problem lies. This is especially true when their reality is threatened. People with this disorder may use aggression, anger, and abuse to control other people and are, "...stunned by society's insistence that they should be held accountable for their actions." When others attempt to hold them accountable, they act like a victim, believing they were injured unfairly and unjustly, " according to Edwards. This behavior is much like the criminal's actions, who commits robbery over and over, because the law doesn't apply to him. After all laws are for other people.
While some may be reluctant to think of someone as having the characteristics of NPD, but As the saying goes, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck"! So, when one sees these signs, it is wise to protect oneself, and understand what may be present. Depending on the severity of the person with characteristics of NPD, There are a couple of things you can do: 1) First and foremost, know that YOU aren't at fault. People with NPD can only feel good about themselves by making you feel bad. 2) Document all you interactions. 3) Avoid confrontations, simply walk away. 3) Don't correct or challenge them in front of other people. 4) If you are young or early in your career -look for another job. 5) Reread number 1 over and over!
The good news is that in many cases, eventually a person with NPD will be discovered and revealed, and all you can do is hope that it is before they negatively impact the business or company, but often it won't be without fatalities. After all, you can't build a lasting image in sand.
Work hard, be productive, and above all else stay positive.
Executive Director, Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce