The Pathological Narcissist In The Workplace
Unfortunately, when workplace anxiety is being caused by a pathological narcissist colleague (or worse, a corporate psychopath), then things are going to become chronic and unbearable.
Narcissists are very Machiavellian, and unfortunately, the hidden anxiety they cause within the work environment is likely to remain invisible and go undetected, unless someone can observe the “red flags” and name what is happening.
If the toxic narcissistic behaviour goes undetected, the anxiety that is created is likely to flow from one person to another, and one department to another, until the whole system becomes infected.
I have worked in the Corporate World for almost 20 years, and I have seen mature companies implode due to undealt with toxic pathological narcissistic behaviour.
Here are some of the behaviours I have witnessed in the workplace coming from pathological narcissistic personnel: –
Corporate pathological narcissists (Corporate Psychopaths) significantly affect the general morale of the workplace through their bullying, verbal abuse, humiliation, criticism, conflict and unfair supervision (Boddy, 2011).
These behaviours are the “out of control reactions” of pathological narcissists (both male and female) who suffer from a serious mental illness. These behaviours are likely to have a strong negative effect on the staff’s performance, creativity, etc., because they are deliberate attempts to distort the victim’s reality, which impacts on everybody.
Narcissists are in a company for self-gratification only (i.e. power, money, prestige, etc.), they are not interested in the long-term success of the organisation in which they work (Boddy, 2011). They gain promotion not through their own competencies, but through their manipulation, aggression, charm, coveting their colleagues work or ideas, etc.
Many narcissists are promoted into positions beyond their abilities, and this can lead to trouble for the company who often find themselves trying to cover up for the narcissist’s poor management decisions on the job. These setbacks can cause extra workload for the other employees when trying to repair the damage. Because they are amoral parasites, narcissists will use other staff inappropriately, getting them to do part of their workload and cover for them, take credit for others’ work, blaming others for their own mistakes, humiliating people in public, creating disharmony and causing crisis and confusion in the workplace (Boddy, 2011).
This directional or functional abuse can demotivate other staff members, who resent what is happening in the work environment. The work-related-stress can lead to a fall in productivity, absenteeism, emotional disturbance within the workplace, general dissatisfaction.
In the end, many organisations must pay out large ‘golden handshakes’ to get rid of these pathological narcissists, because they know that going through the court system will be a difficult and costly drawn-out drama.
When it comes to corporate psychopaths, as far as I can detect, the behaviours do not differ that much from person to person, it only seems to differ by degree.
In the Corporate World, it is estimated that corporate psychopaths make up approximately 4% of the CEO population, and these truly are what Robert Hare (1993) calls, “Snakes in Suits”. The one thing all narcissists have in common is that they need a constant source of narcissistic supply to give them oxygen, and for many narcissists the workplace provides that oxygen in abundance (i.e. it provides a place to preen, show off, get attention, shine, seduce, manipulate, humiliate, slight, prey on, exercise control, have power over, rage, and is financially rewarding, etc.).
Empirical data would show that Corporate Psychopaths are more likely to be at senior levels of the organisation than junior positions. However, that can be misleading, because I have encountered them on all levels of the company. Also, I can say that they all did the same amount of damage to others and the company regardless of what level they had reached. It would be true to say that all these individuals were expecting to rise through the ranks of their organisations, but not all were seen to be suitable to do so.
Regardless of rank, they are all without conscience and are always finding ways to cheat the system and victimise those they work with.
The reason they get away with their sadistic behaviour is that others do not know they exist, and even if they did, they would not know how to recognise the behaviours.
Even most clinicians that work in Employee Assistance Programmes for corporate clients are not aware of these pathological personality types. That is how pathological narcissists can thrive while they are free to hide in plain sight.
It is vital that awareness is promoted in every sector of life because pathological narcissism is rampant throughout all society.
- Narcissistic Female Intimate Partner Violence Against Men Is No Joke - February 28, 2023
- Narcissists and Positions of Power and Influence - February 6, 2023
- Why Is It So Blooming Hard Leaving a Narcissist? - December 9, 2022
I am so sorry you are going through this. It sounds to me as if you have come to the realisation that you will have to leave the job to protect your mental health. Knowing that you may have to leave the job, In some ways, puts you in a stronger position to make the complaint.
I would not suggest that you call this person out as a “narcissist”…..PLEASE DON’T DO THAT. For the best part, most people do not even know what being a narcissist really means….. that knowledge tends to come when you have been a victim and have done your own research to make sense of what is happening to you. Besides, that individual could sue you for defamation of character….. unless you know he/she has been diagnosed as having NPD, DON’T DO IT.
I suggest that you prepare as best you can for that meeting with your CE. If you have documented or logged instances of abuse with this narcissistic person, then bring that proof with you.If you had spoken to the narcissist about their behaviour, then let your CE know that you had tried to resolve the problem yourself, but to no avail. If anybody was a witness to any incident with your narcissistic individual, you may like to say “there was a witness”. You may not want to name the person, and you could say that, but if you have to take things further, then you will name the person at that time. Above all, you need to come across rational and reliable. It is alright if you get upset and cry, but don’t become so overly emotional with your complaint that you look ridiculous….. you are just presenting the facts. It is best to bring three or four good strong examples of abuse to the table to begin with (3-4 good complaints will be heard better than 20 complaints)…. you don’t want to come across as being over sensitive, irrational or emotional. You want to be seen as a grounded, mature employee, who is determined to flag a problem within the company (of course, while being agreeable with the CE). Other people may have complained or left the employ due to this individual, but they may not have presented themselves in the right way to the CE, so it went unchecked….. or put down to “a personality clash”. You and I know this is not due to a personality clash, but you have to convince others of that too.
Before the meeting,I suggest that you take the time to look at your work policy, “this is important”…… Familiarise yourself with the reporting procedure of your company, and follow your workplace procedure for reporting bullying. Remember, all employees have the right to “dignity” in the workplace, and your employer has a responsibility to provide a safe environment, and not allow your working condition to be so intolerable that you are thinking of leaving. Remember, you are only reporting behaviour “that any person would find it impossible to stay in the workplace”.
Remember, you will be dealing with a cunning narcissistic liar, who will try to manipulate your CE into believing that you are the problem.. Of course, you can expect the narcissist to deny any complaint made against them. When any action is taken against an employee, the employer must follow “a fair process” (that is only right) ….. so expect you CE to bring your complaint to your narcissist, they have to.
If this situation is not settled in the workplace to your satisfaction, then you may have no choice but to resign (for health reasons). If that happens you may find you have a case for “Constructive Dismissal”….. but you will need to get yourself a Lawyer to check this out.
Stay calm, take your power back, prepare for your meeting on Wednesday, and look for the support of your company….. that is your right.
I am dealing with this right now. After two years of it I am feeling so weary and my soul has been sucked out of me. I have decided to make a stand, otherwise I am complicit with it and also un-valuing of myself- my skills, talents, learning, hard work and values, if I dont. I know this is dangerous and I may lose my job (I have been there for 15 years) I love my job and the people I work with. I have no savings and I am older so Im giving up a lot to do this. But unless we call this behaviour, unless we do something that shows others the way this will always be there, harming people and creating misery. I have a meeting with our CE (above him) on Wednesday. Im terrified and not sure if it will be worth it but I have to do something……
This is a very interesting article that targets the workplace in a way that needs to be expanded upon to include the “academy.”
I earned my B.A. from perhaps the most prestigious women’s college in the world as a “non-traditional” student, in my early 50s. One of my professors kept a lengthy paper that included my extensive research of mine that she claimed was lost. Within a year after I graduated, this same professor published, on the college website, her intent to deliver an extensive research paper on exactly the same topic my paper was on. This is but the short version. Many students voiced their concerns about this professor. She was competitive, aggressive, vindictive, yet, though she was clearly at retirement age, she would admit that she hung on to milk the system of all that it was worth. This college was infested with narcissistic psychopaths, especially women, who would stop at nothing to stem the enthusiasm of their students. And it still is. It goes from bad to worse, as a matter of fact, because it is financially freighted by special interests that advance the globalist agenda that strives to homogenize humanity while eliminating 90% of our population. Do the research. Start with Agenda 2030.
Furthermore, though this particular subject is taboo in our culture because of political correctness, within the workplace and the academy there has been no more egregious abuses of power than that by sexually exploitative homosexual women. It is one thing to be pursued by a repulsive man, especially within the workplace, who you have no interest in. It is another thing to be pursued, covertly harassed, and maliciously exploited by a homosexual woman at the workplace whose sadistic assaults become not only blatantly abusive, but are so insidiously conniving as to advance her homosexual agenda that not only do we find our religious liberties exploited, we have no choice but to exit the situation even if it means leaving yourself unemployed.
But we are silenced today. We are silenced because morality is taboo. We have thrown God out the window and have condemned those who adhere to Biblical teachings: Trump’s recent judicial nominee Borgen condemns those who uphold their moral values as being equivalent to the KKK.
If we are to authentically sink our teeth into the origins of psychopathology, we need to take an honest, thorough, hard look at what the demonic Jezebel spirit is all about and how the stupid cowardice of Ahab complied with her evil. This evil psychopathic spirit brings down institutions, families, marriages, and souls who are so weak as to become their prey.
Very little is written about the evil demoniac Jezebel spirit and the need for deliverance within the sphere of psychology which is why psychology and science must always bow to the absolute authentic apostolic religion. Perhaps M. Scott Peck was one of the earliest clinicians to tackle this glaring reality head-on. Dr. Robert Hare also writes on this subject, as does Malachi Martin.
Hi Christine. I purchased your book “Shame Begets Shame” and have been reading it a few pages at a time. It answers so many of my life long questions. I always feel better, stronger and more aware of myself when I read it. Thank you so very much! You are #1 in the Cluster B information/teaching arena, for sure!! (I also have “The Three Faces of Evil, another outstandingly informative book.) Excellent!!
I’ve read through some of your material and was nodding to almost all of your descriptions of a narcissist. I was reminded that I am not crazy. My ex spouse was mentally ill and often belittled me and made me feel worthless. Dueto past trauma from males he would get upset when I expressed PTSD symptoms. He blamed me for acting like a victim. He used gaslighting tactics to make me question myself and abilities. He would verbally punish me in front of my sons.
In my experience, narcissists do even more damage to people when they are in university administrations than perhaps any other environment. I think it’s because universities, unlike corporations, can survive really awful management.
I worked with a naracissitic boss for 22 years. The first 11 years he didn’t have authority over me in the business sense. He did all he could to learn about me and my past. I had an abusive childhood and was abused in all ways. He learned those things about me and used that information against me. I didn’t see what was happeneing at the time. He left the country for 6 years and when he came back he was now my boss. (He was also my pastor). I was excited that he would be my boss. “My best friend” and I were going to work together! Little did I know the evil that brewed within this man’s soul. He fired me his first day as the boss, just to rehire me. I was confused, my “best friend” just fired me? But it’s “all good now” cause he explained why he “had to” let me go. He was my best friend and I trusted he knew what he was doing.
He made my life a living hell for 11 years. I walked around thinking there was something wrong with me and no matter what I did it was never good enough. I was told things like you can’t do this or that yet in staff meetings he would tell others it was okay to do that. If I said anything about what he told me, he would accuse me of making it up and would tell people that I was crazy and that I needed help. He would publically humiliate me in staff meetings and from the pulpit. He had charm and knew how to charm a crowd. I had success in all I did yet I “was the one who caused all the problems”. People would come to me for answers on how to do their jobs or to listen to my opinion because, The boss is so busy and you follow through with what we ask”. I would run events and have great success and and he would tell everyone how it was really him that planned and organized it and that I was crazy to take the credit. I was not boastful I didn’t care, take the credit but he had nothing to do with any of it. Most of the time he did everything he could to sabotage it but unsuccessfully so he would take the credit. I constantly walked around questioning myself if I was crazy.
He had fired and rehired me in the same conversation now 4 times. I decided after that 4th time that the next time I would just say okay and leave. The worst day was the day after I successfully had an event that hosted over 400 people and 120 volunteers. It was a dvd based marriage conference and he had hidden the DVD. The day of the conference started and we had no DVD. Fortunately a member had a copy of the DVD at home and we had a successful 2 day conference. The next Monday in staff meeting he asked everyone to leave and kept me in the office. He told me that I was a failure and how dare I have a member run home to get their copy of the DVD for the conference. “You are a loser”. “You can’t lead people” Then he tried to play on my past insecurities. He said, “You’re depressed” “You need therapy”. “You are worthless” and the worst thing he could say, “You are being just like your mother”. At one time if someone had said that to me it would have sent me into a downward spiral and possibly lead me to suicide attempts. He knew that was the worst thing he could say.
But little did he know that I was in Tharp. I was healed from those hurts and I was on a good and healthy path. I purposefully left him in the dark. When I told my therapist what he had done, she gave me an article to read. “Traits of a Narcissist”. I had no idea what that even meant. As soon as I started reading it the lights came on. I started shaking and I have never felt so violated before. Everything I read was what I was dealing with through this man that I once considered my best friend. I knew I had to get away. I prayed A LOT and sought out avenues of escape. Then the day came that he “fired me” again for the 5th time. I very calmly said “okay”. He didn’t know what to do. He tried to back peddle and take it back, but I said, I think it’s for the best.
I left my job November 1, 2015. I was like a person who was raped. I didn’t trust anyone, especially anyone who is nice to me. Now appraoching 3 years I am in a better spot. He has stalked me and he tells others that we still hang out and “grab coffee” from time to time and tells them how “I am doing” and how “i need help” etc. It’s all lies. I have blocked him on all social media and communication. I have security cameras and most recently have purchased a gun to protect myself and my family. He will not let me go. My family and I are in the process of moving out of state to get far away from him.
It’s a shame but there isn’t much Sadi about the narcissistic boss. It’s usually a spouse, but a boss is just as real. Do you have or know of resources to help?
Hi Christine when you say “rampant” what % are you calculating or is there an approximate % research based? In terms of clinicians working in EAP I would agree with you and sometimes clinicians are too easily manipulated in every sphere to adopt a role of judge, jury and executioner of the innocent without understanding the greater dynamic. Thanks