In the previous post I talked about how the patterns for adult narcissism are created in early childhood. You’ll find these adults in the workplace as well as in your personal life. It’s important to know that you can find tools for managing your responses to them in both places.
At work, this is a person who always think he’s right, likes to talk, doesn’t listen well, tends to take over conversations or meetings, and doesn’t appreciate other people’s points of view. Some narcissists use demeaning or aggressive tactics when disagreements arise. Some workplaces enable this sort of behavior, others tolerate it, and many suffer from it. What most people do not realize is that this worker does not have an awareness of others as separate from himself, he assumes that his wants and opinions are the only ones that exist; unaware that other people have needs, wants and opinions of their own.
People are also not aware that narcissists live with a framework where the purpose of other people is to support him in his life, to do what matters to him, as if they are an extension of himself. When confronted with differences of opinion, of evidence that other people are separate and might want something contradictory to his wants, it is as if the narcissist’s whole worldview is confronted. This is unacceptably dangerous and he will (unconsciously, unknowingly) maneuver to bring others in line with his way of being in the world.
This leads to a cascade of behaviors all oriented around these central elements. Things like poor listening, attempts to control, lack of curiosity about people, a preference for being admired, a tendency to create conflict - all these stem from the basic patterns created in early childhood that I touched on in the previous post LINK TO IT HERE.
A key to success for interacting with a narcissist is finding your compassion for the predicament in which the narcissist lives. A narcissist does have some awareness of things being awry, but is flummoxed about the problem. He is grasping for something but doesn’t know what it is. His ability to solve the problem is limited by the very framework erected in his world as a toddler. Compassion for his dilemma, through understanding the nature of the dilemma, can help you source the internal and external resources you need to work with him effectively.
In the same vein, compassion for yourself as you learn will help you grow your effectiveness. Just as it’s easy to get mad and blame the narcissist, it’s also inviting to get frustrated with your own blind spots and the mistakes you make as you learn. Compassion for your self can come from knowing that a narcissist operates in a very different reality from yours, and that it takes conscious effort to learn how to interact effectively.