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How to Survive Living or Working with a Narcissist

Damien Thomas



How to Survive Living or Working with a Narcissist


The best relationship that you can have with a narcissist is none at all. This is a very strong statement, but I truly believe that having a positive relationship with a narcissist is impossible. But sometimes in life, your path might cross with a narcissist in work, or perhaps you are currently in a relationship with a narcissist.

There is a good chance that you know at least one narcissistic person in your life. It is easy to think that this person doesn’t have a strong impact on you. But, in reality, dealing with a narcissist on a regular basis can wreak havoc on your mental health. They can lower your self-esteem, and trigger you to get frustrated, upset, or even cause you to get angry.

Living and working with a narcissist are two different things, but they usually require the same techniques in order to help you to get through the relationship that you have with them. You don’t have to put up with all of the negative tendencies of a narcissist. Instead, let’s look at some techniques that you can use to save your sanity and perhaps the relationship that you have with them. 

Don’t Try to Change Them

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, it is impossible to change their personality. But, you can change how you let them affect you. Don’t turn trying to change them into a ‘project.’ In the end, you will only be disappointed. Narcissists usually don’t have much empathy for other people, as they don’t see themselves as having a problem. If you put a lot of time and effort into thinking you can change them, you will find yourself feeling disappointed, while they won’t even notice or care.

Whether you work with someone who is obsessed with their image, or you love someone who is a little too over the top with how ‘into’ themselves they are, the first step in dealing with them is to understand that you cannot change them. If you still have to/want to be around them, it is you who has to make some positive adjustments.

Accept and Admit Your Feelings to Yourself

One of the worst things that you can do to yourself is to pretend that everything is okay with the narcissist in your life. If you keep telling yourself that you are being irrational or overreacting, you could actually make things even worse. Bottling up your emotions and frustration will eventually cause them to come out eventually, and that will usually create a negative reaction. It is okay to accept your feelings and admit to yourself that you are annoyed by the actions of the narcissist. The sooner you accept that, the easier it will be to know what behavior by them is tolerable and what is intolerable.

Understand Why They Behave This Way

Many times, narcissists are actually very insecure people. It may not seem like it, but they often talk and brag about themselves as a defense mechanism, to make themselves feel better. However, there is a fine line to this theory. Narcissists can also get huge egos very quickly. A good rule of thumb is to reassure the narcissist in your life of their genuine real worth.

For example, if you work with a narcissist who is going on and on about how great they performed during a meeting, give them a simple reassurance that they did, indeed, do a good job. This can help to extinguish their underlying insecurities. But, don’t feel obliged as though you have to go on and on about all of their achievements. That could actually fan the flames of their ego, and make things even worse. When you understand that narcissists often have extreme insecurities, it can be easier to handle some of their quirks and characteristics.

Stay Confident, Strong and Positive

Again, because many narcissists are actually quite insecure people, they can get  great pleasure out of seeing others fail, or even seeing others in some type of emotional pain or turmoil. Most of the time, it’s not some kind of ‘evil’ thought process, as they may not even realize the pleasure they get out of such thoughts.

But, if you must work with a narcissist, don’t let these thoughts and tendencies get to you. Even if you are feeling down, try to maintain a confident positive outlook around these types of people. They will try to bring you down, and the best way to respond to that is to let them know that you are not going to put up with their mean streak by staying confident, strong and positive. If they get into an argument with you, walk away or leave the house, as a response will only give them the power that they crave.

This practice can be often easier said than done, but it is important if you want to be the one in control in your personal and/or working relationship.

Find a Balance

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, it can be easy to find yourself constantly giving into their wants and needs. Don’t let yourself get derailed when it comes to your own plans and goals just because they try to steal the spotlight all of the time.

It is important to keep moving forward in your own life. A narcissistic person will try to hold you back if you let them. While it is important to be supportive in a relationship, that support has to go both ways. A narcissist may not recognize that, so it is up to you to keep walking your own path, and achieving your own goals on a regular basis. Finding a balance between your relationship with a narcissist and your own personal achievements in life can be tricky at first. But, it is so important in order to have a healthy relationship, and indeed for your own mental wellbeing.

Determine What You Are Willing to Do

Again, it is important to understand where a narcissist might be coming from. If you work with someone like this, it is not always easy to suggest that they could get some help. But, if you are in a relationship with a narcissistic person and you know that they may be struggling with some insecurities, it’s okay to offer them the help they may need.

Determine what you are willing to do to help someone that you care about, even if they have selfish tendencies. They may not be receptive to the idea. But, not offering help may make you resent them and their personality. I do believe that the best thing that you can do if you meet a narcissist is to go in the opposite direction, I know of people who have broken free from a relationship with a narcissist and it has totally changed their lives for the better. I know of others who are still in a relationship with a narcissist and it works. If you work with or you live with a narcissist and you want the relationship to work, do your best to put these techniques into practice. If you do, it won’t be long before you will notice how much better you will feel.