Disarming the narcissist – the spotlight shift


Narcissists are all around us. Although more acknowledged than in the past (e.g. read what the SMH has to say about the narcissistic boss here), they always have been part and parcel of our workplaces and social relationships, often leaving a trail of ‘what happened there?’ behind them. How to spot them? Here are some characteristics:

  • They are political animals, effectively managing upwards… while they can.
  • Their personal view on their own achievements, particularly when communicated verbally, are enormous.
  • They are charming, with wittiness and generous compliments on tap.
  • In their mind they are really, truly special (and you are not, despite what their short term words and actions might suggest – they will play with your ego).
  • They often reveal their true selves with a revealing take on how they truly see their minions.

In a one-off or initial workplace meeting or presentation, you may be seen as a threat – they will seek to unbalance you through an awkward question or two, or three. Or more. They will probe a weak point (in their eyes) mercilessly. If you think you are being caught in the narcissist’s headlights, a quick disarming strategy is to throw the spotlight back on them. As quickly as is possible – they won’t be able to resist, as the topic has turned back to their true passion – themselves. “Oh, let’s not go there now, tell me about [insert as applicable – “your studies”, “your weekend”, “your plans for this role”]. Remember, they are the most interesting person in the room – give them the spotlight they crave.

© Tom Loncar Executive Coaching 2014