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The Danger of Narcissism in the Workplace: Why it Matters


Most people have encountered narcissism at some point in their lives. You know the type: those who seem to think the world revolves around them, and who are always seeking attention, praise, or validation from others.

Edited by David Stone

While it’s one thing to deal with a narcissistic friend or family member, encountering this in a professional setting can pose a greater risk. In this blog post, we’ll explore why narcissism is potentially dangerous in the workplace, and what steps colleagues and managers can take to mitigate its harmful effects.

How To Spot a Narcissist in Your Worksplace

If you’re noticing a colleague at work acting arrogantly, think they’re better than everyone else, or constantly compete with others for attention or recognition, chances are they may be exhibiting signs of narcissism.

1. Watch for signs of grandiosity. Narcissistic people often think they are more important than everyone else and can be very competitive to prove their worth. They may use tactics like interrupting, talking over others, or belittling the accomplishments of other coworkers in order to feel superior.

2. Observe how they treat others. Narcissists typically have difficulty empathizing with the feelings and needs of other people, so if you notice them being dismissive or inconsiderate towards coworkers or customers, it’s a red flag.

3. Notice how they handle criticism. A narcissist may not take kindly to constructive feedback and can be very defensive when they feel like their faults are being pointed out.

4. Consider how they present themselves. Narcissists often put great emphasis on their appearance and may try to dominate conversations with topics related to their accomplishments or interests.

5. Watch out for manipulative behavior. Narcissists may use people to get what they want and will often resort to manipulation tactics like guilt-tripping or gaslighting in order to gain control of a situation.

6. Look for an inability to take responsibility for mistakes. A narcissist typically cannot admit when they are wrong or accept any kind of criticism, instead shifting blame to others.

7. Note patterns of entitlement. Narcissists often have an inflated sense of self-importance and will act as if they are entitled to special treatment or privileges that no one else is afforded.

8. Pay attention to aggressive outbursts. A narcissist will often respond with rage when they don’t get their way or feel slighted, and this behavior can be unpredictable and dangerous.

What To Watch for and Stay Away From

First, it’s important to understand what we mean by “narcissism.”

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Narcissism is typically defined as a personality trait characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for constant admiration and validation, and a lack of empathy for others.

While some narcissistic tendencies are relatively common (such as seeking attention on social media), this trait can become pathological in certain individuals.

When encountering narcissism in the workplace, there are several potential dangers to be aware of.

For one, narcissistic individuals are often less concerned with the well-being of others than they are with their own self-interest.

This can lead to a lack of empathy, disregard for ethical or moral standards, and a tendency to manipulate or exploit others for personal gain. In extreme cases, this can even lead to abusive or toxic behavior towards colleagues or subordinates.

Another risk is that narcissistic individuals often prioritize their own image and reputation over the success of the team or organization as a whole. They may be more focused on taking credit for successes, or on deflecting blame onto others when things go wrong.

This can lead to a breakdown in communication and collaboration, as well as a lack of shared accountability.

Far Reaching Effects

But it’s not just those who work closely with a narcissistic individual who are affected. Research has shown that toxic or abusive workplace environments can have serious health consequences for employees, including increased stress, anxiety, and depression.

This can have a ripple effect, leading to decreased morale, lower productivity, and higher turnover rates.

So, what can be done to mitigate the risks of narcissism in the workplace?

For one, organizations can prioritize ethical leadership and create a culture of transparency and accountability. This can include things like clear policies around conflict of interest, fair promotion practices, and whistleblower protections.

Additionally, managers can work to build trust and foster a sense of shared purpose among their team, encouraging open communication and constructive feedback.

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Individuals who work with narcissistic colleagues or managers can also take steps to protect themselves and their well-being. This can include setting clear boundaries, prioritizing self-care and mental health, and seeking support from HR or other resources if necessary.

Dealing with a Narcissist Boss: How To Cope

Coping with a narcissistic boss means learning to maneuver around their outbursts and manipulation tactics.

A good technique is to practice emotional detachment; focus instead on what needs to be done and the desired outcome. Remember, it’s not about you, so don’t take things personally.

Try to stay calm and keep your composure no matter how difficult the situation becomes. Find other trusted colleagues who are going through a similar situation and can offer support.

Most importantly, remember that you are a valuable asset to the company and find ways to turn challenging situations into opportunities for yourself. You deserve respect–never forget that! With a bit of practice and patience, you will be able to handle your narcissistic boss with grace!


Encountering narcissism in the workplace can be challenging, but it’s important to recognize the potential dangers and take steps to mitigate them.

By prioritizing ethical leadership, fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, and promoting open communication and collaboration, we can work towards creating healthier and more fulfilling work environments for all.

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