The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, defines narcissism as:  A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five or more of the following:

 1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g.), exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

 3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions

4. Requires excessive admiration

 5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

 6. Is interpersonally exploitive, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

 7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 661) 

10. President Trump

They often explain their point of view in loquacious detail while failing to recognize that other parties have anything to add to their perspectives.  Additionally, when other parties attempt to express their views, the narcissist will often become impatient with the conversation, and may be oblivious to the damage that their lack of concern causes in the other party.  Finally, when they do recognize the feelings of others, they tend to regard those feelings as a sign of the weakness of the person exhibiting them.  This weakness, to the narcissist, is something to exploited but never pitied, as pity is something that the narcissist does not feel for others (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).  

What happens when the narcissist is a co-worker or a subordinate how to encounter the behavior in the workplace?  Here are some strategies in understanding the behavior.

What must then be asked is, how does one deal, in day-to-day work life, with those people who display strong narcissistic tendencies in the workplace?   How does one communicate with someone who is self-centered, degrades other people’s ideas, and fails to heed the warnings of others?  Even more intimidating: how does one take a person with those characteristics and attempt to integrate them into the team format?  Cavaiola and Lavender (2000) state that “one cannot expect the narcissist to behave in a rational, giving, or cooperative manner, and if you do, you will experience nothing but frustration in your interactions with them”

Maccoby (2003, 2004), said one discovers no real process for dealing with the narcissist personality at work other than to avoid the narcissist and thus not respond to him or her or to alter one’s perception of what would provide a fulfilling job.  While this might prove comforting to some, it would be difficult to believe that dealing with people with strong narcissistic tendencies would be as simple as saying, “Maybe I can just ignore it and it will go away.”    Still, this type of logic is suggested for implementation in most of the literature in which an author attempts to indicate how the narcissist should be dealt with.  Bacal (2000) indicates that while these people are very difficult to fire or to discipline or worst a boss, the best thing that a person might do is simply learn to deal with the narcissist by placating their behavior.

 Bacal goes on to state that if one is managing such a person, one needs to differentiate between the person and their behavior patterns, and should not blame the narcissist for the problem.  He suggests that one should internalize the situation and attempt to determine what one can change so that one can continue to cope with the narcissist behavior.  Lastly, Bacal advocates that one should avoid assumption of a “victimized” posture when confronting narcissistic behavior, and focus only on what implications the narcissistic behavior might have on the work environment

Here’s a tip, narcissist lacks self-composure and confidence, this is one of the main reasons they are so quick to turn on one action, which indirectly makes them look bad. Be consistent with your loyalty while standing on your right and in no time you will always be at their good side. But don’t feel too comfortable due to their unstable nature, remember unless the benefits of staying outweigh the downside over the long haul, you need to figure out when you can leave.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Bacal, R. (2000). The complete idiots guide to dealing with difficult employees. Madison,WI: CWI Publishing Enterprises.

Cavaiola, A. & Lavender, N. (2000). Toxic coworkers: how to deal with dysfunctionalPeople on the job. Oak lake: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Freud, S. (1991). On narcissism: An introduction. In J. Sandler, E.S. Person, & P. Fonagy

(Eds.) for the International Psychoanalytical Association, Freud’s “On

Narcissism: An Introduction “(pp. 3-32). New Haven & London: Yale University

Press. (Original work published 1914).

Lubit, R. (2004). Coping with toxic managers, subordinates, and other difficult people.

Upper Saddle River: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Maccoby, M. (2003). The productive narcissist. New York: Broadway Books.

Maccoby, M. (2004). Narcissistic leaders: The incredible pros, the inevitable cons.

 Narcissistic Leaders. (2000, June). Harvard Management Communication Letter, 3(6),

 Author of “Cooperating in the Workplace” Revised Expanded 2nd edition ( Amazon Books

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