Working with the Self-Absorbed

1. You certainly picked a tough subject. How did this book come to be written?

This is not the first book I wrote about narcissism, that was The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern. It was written out of a difficult experience I had with a supervisor and my experiences were shared by almost everyone in the department. Since it wasn't a personality clash that was causing the difficulties, I went to the professional literature for some possible answers, and that led me to create the description of the Destructive Narcissistic Pattern.

2. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a recognized mental illness. What's the history of its analysis?

Working with the self-absorbed does not present on a Narcissistic Personality Disorder as that is a recognized diagnosis. What the book addresses are the clusters of troubling behaviors and attitudes similar to those presented by a diagnosed NPD, but this person has fewer of the behaviors and attitudes, and these can differ in kind and intensity from those identified in a diagnosis. The clusters described in the book reflects the DNP to distinguish it from a NPD. The answers to the remaining questions uses the description for the DNP.

3. What are the best ways to handle contentious issues with someone like this in the workplace?

The best suggestions for handling conflict in the workplace are the following

  • Do not confront - that does not work
  • Don't try to emphatize - that doesn't work either
  • Use emotional insulation to help manage your uncomfortable feelings
  • Work around difficulties as much as possible
  • Limit interactions with the person, and keep any interactions brief, civil, and objective.

4. What are the dangers of working with a person with this syndrome?

The dangers are that your feelings can lead you to self-blame, unwise acts such as getting in shouting matches where you cannot win, stress related illnesses and conditions, impaired work relationships with colleagues, displaced emotions on those in your close relationships, e.g. family members.

5. We have a lot of people at entry level to whom this will be real news. How do they deal with NPD in their senior staff?

Dealing with senior staff, supervisors and bosses who have a DNP can be difficult and tricky. Suggestions are to have polite, civil, respectful interactions; don't socialize especially out of the workplace; don't go to them with problems or tattle on co-workers; document directions, orders, interactions, and the like; and try to get assignments in writing.

6. How do people with NPD conduct relationships?

I cannot answer this as presented, since I am not discussing the NPD.

7. Some would say the workplace is a difficult enough environment without NPD. What's the best way to view NPD as a work issue?

If you think or have a DNP in the workplace it can be helpful to view the relationship as a difficult one that has to be managed, and to accept that that person will not change.

8. Do you have a case study of a successful management of NPD?

No, I don't have such a case study.

9. Are people with NPD extroverts, introverts, or aggressive or defensive?

All of these. They are different just as all humans are different. The book describes these troubling behaviors and attitudes, such as arrogance, contempt, lack of empathy, attention seeking behaviors, disrespect for others' boundaries, take unearned credit or credit for work done by others, have an entitlement attitude, and boasting to name a few.

10. Relationships are two way things. How should a person conduct their own part of a relationship with someone suffering from NPD?

This is too much difficult and complex to give a brief answer.