Narcissists in the Workplace: Traits, Impacts on Work Environment

Even though narcissistic traits might be present in different settings like personal relationships, they can also manifest in the workplace, which leads to a challenging and toxic work environment for people. 

Narcissistic behavior in your workplace can majorly impact your work environment, morale, and productivity. 

Once you understand the signs of selfish behaviors, you can help yourself and your employees learn about the issue.

What Is Narcissism Disorder?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.

However, behind this mask of extreme confidence often lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders.

It’s a condition that can be challenging to manage and treat, as individuals with this disorder often don’t recognize that they have a problem and may not seek treatment unless their behavior causes them significant distress or negatively affects their lives and relationships.

People with narcissistic personality disorder may:

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate.
  • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally unique people.
  • Require constant admiration.
  • Have a sense of entitlement.
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations.
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want.
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them.
  • Behave arrogantly or haughtily, coming across as conceited, boastful, and pretentious.

Traits Of Narcissists

Grandiose Sense of Self-Importance

Narcissists have an inflated view of themselves, and they would believe that they are the superior people in the workplace. 

They might even seek recognition and addition from people around them, and this might engage in self-promotion to boost their ego.

Lack of Empathy

If you are a narcissist, you would have limited ability to empathize with others, and you might even disregard or dismiss the feelings and needs of your colleagues. 

You might show concern for the well-being of others, but you would focus on your interests above all.

Need for constant Admiration

Being a narcissist, you would have an ongoing need for attention and affection from people around you. 

You would need to seek praise and recognition for your achievements, and you might even become upset or angry if you do not receive the desired admiration level.

Lack of Accountability

Being a narcissist, you might refuse to take responsibility for your mistakes or failures, and you would even blame others for your shortcomings. 

You might even avoid accountability and might shift blame onto others to protect your image of protection.

Arrogance and Entitlement

Narcissists might display arrogance and entitlement in the workplace. You would believe that you only deserve special treatment and privilege. 

You also would feel entitled to promotion or other benefits without pulling a vital effort or qualification.

The challenge is Working in a Team

As a narcissist, you might find it challenging and would just prioritize your focus interests over the collective goals of your team. 

You also would have a sense of superiority, and you might disregard the opinions or contributions of others around you.

Impact of Narcissistic Behaviours in the Workplace

You and your company can determine the impact of selfish behavior in the workplace. Some significant implications of dealing with narcissists in your workplace are mentioned here.

Toxic Work Environment

Selfish behavior can create a toxic work environment characterized by constant manipulation, competition, and conflict. 

The poisonous atmosphere can even increase stress levels, minimum job satisfaction, and low productivity among the team members.

High Turnover Rates

Narcissistic behaviors can lead to high turnover rates as our employees might find it challenging to work in an environment where their contribution needs to be recognized.

High turnover rates can lead to an increase in the cost of recruitment training and, of course, the loss of valuable talent.

Low Team Morale

Narcissistic behavior can negatively impact your team morale as a whole, as your employees might feel demoralized or discouraged by the toxic behavior of the narcissistic colleague. Low team morale can lead to decreased collaboration or communication.

Emotional Distress

Dealing with narcissists in the workplace can lead to emotional distress among employees, who might experience frustration, anger, and anxiety. 

The constant need for admiration or manipulative behavior and the lack of empathy displaced by narcissists can create a toxic and emotionally draining work environment.

The employees might feel undervalued and unsupported, which can increase stress levels and negatively impact their mental health.

Minimum Productivity

The toxic behavior of narcissists in the workplace can result in minimal productivity. Constant conflicts, manipulations, and distractions can hinder your ability to focus on your task and perform at your best.

The toxic environment created by narcissistic behavior can also lead to increased absenteeism as you try to avoid dealing with narcissists leading to minimum productivity and performance.

Legal and Financial Risks

Narcissistic behavior in the workplace can also pose legal and financial risks for your company.

For example, selfish employees might engage in unethical or illegal behavior like harassment, discrimination, or fraud, which can lead to lawsuits, fines, and reputational damage for the company.

But the high turnover rate resulting from dealing with narcissists can lead to extra recruitment and training expenses.

Recognize and Document the Behaviour

It would help if you recorded specific instances of selfish behavior, like dates, times, and witnesses. The documentation can serve as evidence of where action needs to be taken.

Set Some Boundaries

You need to set some clear, healthy boundaries with your narcissistic colleagues. You have to be assertive in communicating your limits and expectations. It would be best never to allow yourself to be manipulated or mistreated.

You must avoid engaging in power struggles or becoming emotionally reactive to anybody else’s behavior, as this can fuel their ego and perpetuate toxic dynamics.

Seek Support

Dealing with narcissists can be emotionally draining, so you must seek support from trusted colleagues, friends, or mentors. You must share your experience with others and pursue your evidence, perspective, and how to handle the situation.

This can provide emotional support, validation, and guidance on effectively dealing with narcissistic behavior.

Follow your Company’s Policies and Procedures

Many companies have policies addressing harassment, discrimination, and toxic behavior. You must follow the procedures and report any incidents of narcissistic behavior to your HR department.

Engage in Assertive Communication

You can use eye statements to express your concerns and feelings and avoid blaming or accusing language. Go with the facts and be clear about your expectations while acknowledging other people’s perspectives.

Stay Professional

You need to maintain your professional demeanor while dealing with narcissists in the workplace. You should avoid stopping their level of manipulation or engaging in gossip.

Consider Seeking Some Legal or HR Assistance

If the narcissistic behavior persists and significantly impacts your well-being and work performance, you should consider seeking help from your HR department for legal counsel.

They can help you with ideas on addressing the situation and taking appropriate action to protect your rights and well-being.

Seek Professional Help for Dealing With Narcissists

You can connect with chart experts who are well-trained to handle workplace conflicts and toxic behavior. They can help you understand the company’s policies and procedures and provide you with the resources to resolve disputes. 

When seeking HR assistance, you must maintain confidentiality and be honest about your experiences. You should give specific details like dates, times, and witnesses so healthy HR professionals understand the severity of the situation.

They can take appropriate action like mediation, conflict resolution, or disciplinary measures to address the problem.

Legal Counsel

In some cases, you would come across narcissistic behaviors in the company in the illegal activities line like harassment, discrimination, or fraud. In such a situation, you must seek legal help to protect your rights and interests.

A qualified employment lawyer can help you with the right legal advice, and they can also help you understand the potential risks and consequences of taking legal action, like filing a complaint or motivating a lawsuit.

Mental Health Experts

Dealing with narcissists in the workplace can majorly impact your emotional and mental well-being. Constant manipulation and toxic behavior can lead to emotional distress and anxiety. You need to seek support from qualified mental health experts like counselors.

Coaching and Training

Another type of professional assistance for dealing with narcissists in the workplace is coaching and training. Some companies offer coaching and training programs especially designed to address toxic behaviors.

These programs can provide you with all the tools and strategies to deal with narcissistic behavior effectively. They can also help you build resilience, improve your interpersonal skills and navigate challenging situations.


To summarise, working with workplace narcissists is challenging yet manageable.

Recognizing their characteristics, creating limits, emotional detachment, and encouraging teamwork can all help minimize their detrimental impact.

Don’t be afraid to seek assistance from HR or management if necessary. After all, everyone has the right to a safe and courteous workplace.

Narcissists in the Workplace FAQs

What are the signs of a narcissist in the workplace?

A narcissist in the workplace may exhibit behaviors like dominating conversations, exaggerating their achievements, requiring constant admiration, showing envy towards others, taking credit for other’s work, or being overly competitive.

How does a narcissist affect the workplace environment?

A narcissist can create a toxic work environment. They may lead to decreased team morale, increased stress levels, lower productivity, and higher turnover rates, and they might even affect the overall performance of the team or company.

How can I deal with a narcissist at work?

Dealing with a narcissist requires understanding, patience, and setting boundaries. You can try to avoid engaging in their games, focus on facts when communicating, maintain professionalism, set clear boundaries, and seek support when necessary.

How can a manager handle a narcissistic employee?

A manager should handle a narcissistic employee by setting clear expectations, providing constructive feedback, avoiding getting drawn into emotional confrontations, and fostering a culture of teamwork. It might be helpful to involve HR or a professional mediator if the situation escalates.

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