People Management: Tips to Protect Your Career Against a Narcissist

4 min read

Career Trends: May 17, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS


Feel your strings getting pulled? As professionals, it’s vital that our team and organisation feel confident in our abilities and professional intentions, but this gets hard if we have to deal with a narcissist.

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As a professional, you will encounter a lot of challenges during your career journey. People management will, perhaps, be the most crucial of them all. It is a vast subject and today, specifically, we will be focusing on the difficulties of working alongside people with Narcissism — more specifically, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Why is it such an an important career topic?

As professionals, it’s vital that our team and organisation feel confident in our ability to do our job and trust our professional intentions. This hard job gets harder if we have to deal with a narcissist.

What is NPD?

According to healthline.com, NPD is a personality disorder in which people have an inflated opinion of themselves. They also have an intense need for the admiration and attention of others.

It might surprise you to learn that somewhere between 1% and 5% of the general population has NPD. It means that most of us likely know someone who has it.

If that is the case, you might ask, why are so many people unfamiliar with the issue?

There are many reasons why, though the narcissist’s ability to present favourably in public, recruit and co-opt support, lie without thinking of it as wrong, manipulate situations, and punish their targets privately behind closed doors is a big part of it.

Here are some common tactics narcissists use:

  • Lying
  • Manipulation
  • Gaslighting (deliberately presenting false narratives to someone, leading them to doubt their perceptions)
  • Impression management (charming others in an attempt to recruit and co-opt support)
  • Projection (projecting what they do onto others and accusing them of doing it)
  • False compromise (presenting the idea of compromise when there are clearly sensible and nonsensible choices)
  • Future faking/empty promises
  • Deflection, diversion, and evasion (when cornered, caught in a lie, asked a difficult question, or confronted with a difficult situation)
  • Moving the goalposts (no matter how much you do or how hard you work, you can never achieve anything or be good enough since the metrics keep changing)

5 tips to deal with a narcissist

1. Document everything.

  • Write everything down.
  • Narcissists have no problem telling you something and then later denying they said it.
  • They also have no problem telling others that you said something you didn’t, quoting you out of context, or twisting your words.
  • It is preferable to communicate with a narcissist in writing only, though if you need to communicate verbally, ensure there are witnesses or send out written summaries immediately afterward.

2. Disengage. Don’t give them the opportunity to manage your emotions.

  • A narcissist wants you to engage emotionally.
  • That is one way they get you to lose focus on what is important and drag you into an argument.
  • Do not engage with them emotionally as nothing good will come of it, they lack true empathy, even though they might be good at overtly displaying it.

3. Don’t let them drag you into unnecessary arguments.

  • Ignore the bait thrown at you continuously.
  • Stay focused on the topic at hand and do not respond to tactics designed to get you off topic and drag you into an argument.

4. Know that you are not alone. There must be others.

  • You are far from the only victim of a narcissist.
  • Unfortunately, it is difficult for victims of narcissists to network and share experiences around the topic.
  • Others who have been the victims of narcissists will see your struggle and will often approach you privately to share their concerns and offer support.

5. Don’t doubt your own lived experiences and intuition.

  • Narcissists are known to easily hoodwink psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, etc., too.
  • Don’t let this create self-doubt in your mind. Trust your own lived experiences and intuition.

While narcissists need therapy and support, they are highly unlikely to seek those because they lack the self-awareness required to know that they need mental help. At the same time, those recruited and co-opted by narcissists are, by design, unable to see the narcissist for who they truly are.

As a result, outing a narcissist is always a challenge. But if you are familiar with their tactics, you are in a good place to safeguard your career and mental peace.


Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above mentioned article are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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5 Replies to “People Management: Tips to Protect Your Career Against a Narcissist”

  1. Absolutely important! A very seen and felt observation frequenting office environments. Crisply touched, rather impactful points of corporate functioning.

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