Narcissism in the Workplace

Narcissism in the Workplace

Research, Opinion and Practice

New Horizons in Management series

Andrew J. DuBrin

The author describes both the positive and negative features of narcissism and presents strategies and tactics for dealing constructively with narcissistic traits and behaviors in oneself and in others. Self-tests and questionnaires found throughout the volume enable readers to reflect on their standing on a variety of behaviors and attitudes associated with narcissism. Each chapter includes a section labeled ‘Guidelines for Application and Practice’ that provides practical advice for applying the research and theories presented within. Further, each chapter concludes with a case history of narcissism, accompanied by a brief analysis of the narcissistic aspects of the case’s subject.

Chapter 7: Dealing with the Narcissistic Coworker

Andrew J. DuBrin

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour, politics and public policy, leadership


Highly narcissistic coworkers represent yet another problem for people who want their workdays to run smoothly without having to resolve complex interpersonal problems. Narcissists are part of a category of workers classified as difficult people. A coworker is difficult when he or she is uncooperative, disrespectful, touchy, defensive, hostile, or even unfriendly.1 Difficult people include many different subtypes, such as high-maintenance workers, and lone wolves who do not want to be part of any team. About ten percent of the workforce might be classified as difficult, and perhaps one-tenth of these people could be classified as narcissists. Yet other types of difficult people have an element of narcissism, such as the yes-person who readily agrees to assume responsibility for a project yet often fails to follow through. As a result, the percentage of the workforce that creates problems for others based on narcissistic tendencies is probably much higher than one percent. Nina Brown, counseling professor at Old Dominion University, reminds us that we are not helpless in dealing with destructive narcissist coworkers. People can develop and use strategies and tactics that will help them cope with negative narcissistic behavior as well as dealing with their own feelings.2 In this chapter we include some of Brown’s ideas in our approach to dealing with narcissistic coworkers. We begin by describing some of the problems created by narcissistic coworkers. We then describe a study about coping with workplace narcissists, followed by advice about taking care of oneself when dealing with narcissists. Other major...

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