Narcissists create tremendous damage, frustration and suffering. They are everything but mature. And they believe they are so grandiose that they are entitled to hurt and damage other people. Narcissists are not always easy to detect, but it is important that you do, to know what you stand up against.
What has worked for me is to show that I do not agree with them.
I am not a psychologist, and I will not dwell on the differences between a narcissist and a psychopath. When you hear the words “narcissist or “psychopath” you probably think on a “it-is-all-about-me” person. And that is what I mean about a narcissist in this article. A person who probably has what is called a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The most ridiculous example I have experienced was a Head of a department, where I once worked, who summoned all his staff to an urgent meeting, telling them, while he was sobbing, that his wife had left him, and what a terrible time he was going through. And this was a government agency, not a local corner shop. No wonder the wife left him.
Many famous and infamous persons have been labelled psychopaths and narcissists. Harvey Weinstein, the film producer being accused of having sexually abused a large number of women over several decades, is a typical candidate.
Two Female Narcissists
Some times they can be as obvious at that. However, often narcissists are not all that easy to spot and far more dangerous than that infantile Head of Department. Two women (yes, women can be narcissists, too), both fit my description of a narcissist. One was my Head of Unit, the other one a woman who worked for a different organization, but whom I encountered frequently. They could both be eloquent and charming, and often their suggestions and decisions sounded quite reasonable.
Up until…. you said something to correct them. That is when they showed their true colours. Especially if you at the same time, failed to praise them for their excellent ideas, or the good work they were doing.
Once I just tried to explain to one of them something I thought she had misunderstood. My intention was not to be rude, just to help her. I could see that her neck became red-spotted and how she was struggling to contain herself. After that day she took every opportunity to belittle me. Trying to make my comments at a meeting sound ridiculous, or deleting me from email lists. I tried to avoid her as best as I could.
The other one, the Head of Unit, interpreted any suggestions as criticism. When somebody proposed some small changes to our weekly meeting, she turned brick red, and had apparent difficulties with continue on talking. She had already had several histories with harassing staff, who, as a result, left. Her ability to lead us was non-existent, and the office was a mess. I left after a few months.
Criticise Them and See What Happens
So, if you suspect that a person you work closly with, may have a narcissistic disorder, try and criticize them and see what happens. It does not have to be open criticism, just a polite “may I suggest that we do X instead of Y”. A normal person would not be upset about that. They may oppose it, but would not be bursting with anger. A good colleague or manager would appreciate your comments. When you have done that a couple of times, or observed others doing it, and they show the same extreme reaction to the slightest hint of criticism, you are probably dealing with a narcissist.
They Will Never Change
If you cannot leave your job immediately, work on a longer-term exit strategy. Because narcissists will never change. Not just that they can make life very hard for you; but working for a narcissist also means that you will have little to show for in terms of achievements to put on your CV. Since, they only care about what serves their own ego, they are incapable of setting out a direction, and make people work according to it. And if you should be able to do some good work, they will do everything they can to take the glory.
Left with no option but to stay, do your best to keep out of their sight. Try not to annoy them. And support colleagues who are in their spotlight, the best way you can. At least you can take care of each other, and dream about the day the narcissist leaves. Often they do, due to lack of results, leaving massive chaos behind.
The Head of Unit I told you about, was sacked a few years after I left. The other one went on to a job in another country.
The next time you suspect you have a narcissist in your vicinity, please contact me. I am here to listen.
Harriet Tubman is the face of the 20 US dollar banknote.
Harriet was born a slave, adamant in her claims for better conditions for her fellow slaves. She was continuously beaten by her owners. The beating included a head injury that gave her headache for the rest of her life. Her back looked like a battlefield.
She escaped to the north and started helping other slaves to escape to Canada. During the American civil war, she headed an army expedition and after the war she was involved in the female suffrage movement. One can hardly find a better example of a person possessing high integrity.
There is a dearth of integrity in the world. Corruption, poverty, conflicts and environmental degradation are mostly results of decisions made by people with little integrity. The same regards bad work environments causing stress and ill-health. People with authority, too often, do not act as the leaders and role models they are supposed to be. We cannot wait for “they” to change. We have to do it ourselves. [Read more…]
You have good friends at work, and though some tasks are tedious, you usually look forward to coming there.
Your colleagues support you; and you do your best to support them.
Most often you solve problems together, and your team leader clearly shows that she appreciate you and your efforts.
She sees you as a person, encourages you to develop and she focuses on common results.
Unfortunately, you belong to the lucky ones. According to a survey some years ago, merely 13% of workers world-wide are engaged in their jobs. In East Asia the figure was down to 6 %.
For aid workers, the main problem is not lack of engagement, but lack of support. According to a survey done by the Guardian, 79% of the respondent aid workers had experienced mental health issues. 66 % stated a lack of support from their employers as the main factor behind their ill-health. [Read more…]
In a previous post I wrote about the connection between disasters and corruption.
In this post I will focus on solutions.
The detrimental effects of corruption on development (and hence disaster risk) are established. The same regards what constitutes a good, efficient and low-corrupt society. “Accountability”, “transparency” and “rule-of-law” are usually part of that package.
The tricky thing is how to get there. How can the transition take place? From a society permeated by corruption to a, if not perfect, much more well-functioning one? [Read more…]
The resent election in Kenya is a perfect example of immature behaviour. Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, has claimed that he lost the election due to fraud. I have chosen Kenya as an example; but this whole business of blaming others, exhibited by politicians who are supposed to serve and lead by example, are all too common.
Even the toddler in White House has claimed voter fraud, despite the fact that he won. (I am so tired of hearing about him, that I try not to use his name). President Maduro in Venezuela, is blaming the U.S. for the economic chaos in the country. And not his own egregious policies and lack of leadership skills.
Such behaviour are excellent examples of immature behaviour. Sadly, these baby boys (mostly boys), are being praised when they do not act like three year olds, merely as five year olds. Like when Yahya Jammeh stepped down, after 22 years as a president in the Gambia, having lost the election; and the international community responded with “Good boy!” [Read more…]