The mythological character of the narcissist is the vampire – give them half a chance and they will suck you dry!

If you have a boss who is arrogant, selfish and insensitive you have landed yourself a narcissist!

And, if you are not careful, your work day will be filled with abusive and unpleasant experiences – you will come home feeling manipulated and used.

As much as they are difficult to be around, they are also very predictable. It is inadvisable to attempt to play their game.

Narcissists feed off people’s insecurities.  Hence the analogy with the vampire. If you let them, they will diminish and crush you and drag you around like a dog with no legs.

But if you catch their game they are sitting ducks!

The narcissist personality is inherently extremely insecure. They make up for this emptiness by acting big and tough. They thrive on people who make them feel important and surround themselves with those who bow to their every whim and fancy.

Usually if you are working for them they have defined you as one of those ‘weak’ personalities that they can manipulate to their hearts desire – usually to your extreme detriment. But they will feed off your feelings of inferiority (which they have cunningly nurtured) and get you running after them in the most servile way.

You, of course, will always feel and look like a dish rag, berating yourself for being such a wimp but, paradoxically, desperately seeking their approval.

A terrible trap!

But because narcissists are essentially weak characters, they are extremely vulnerable – if you know how to sucker them. And here is the rub – they are drawn to people who act disinterested as it plays into their feelings of insecurity.

Ignore a narcissist and watch what happens . . . . magic!

So try some of these:

  •  Stop ‘gushing’ – don’t run up to them in the morning to say hello or keep    volunteering your services. Both of these are noticeable attention-seeking      behaviors.
  • Stay away from their office until it is absolutely essential. Start asking     yourself if you are wanting approval or if the interaction can wait.
  • Stop asking if you are “doing it right”. Again start identifying your true intention.
  • Start saying ‘no’ to things you do not want to do. Obviously discretion is   required. But you will be a target if you have previously always said ‘yes’. So start filtering requests so that you can discern the appropriate ones from the ‘dumps’.
  • In meetings, think carefully before saying anything. Be clear about what you want to contribute – it needs to add value rather than be an attempt to seek approval.

Now, when you stop the pleasing drama and approval seeking behavior, a vacuum is created.  If you persist with your nonchalant demeanor that vacuum will become too powerful to resist. Your narcissistic boss will  be sucked in and the tables will turn – they will be unable to resist the need to find out why you are not treating them like a god anymore.

Then you have them – they are hooked! 

What this looks like is that they could come slinking up to your desk to try and find out what’s cooking. Or they could become even more aggressive usually in an attempt to scare you back into that timid wimp that they enjoy so much.

Do not budge! Stick to the strategy – stay aloof and formal.

They cannot deal with this treatment and will try to charm you over and that is when you can set new terms of engagement. Re-stating your boundaries is a good start.

Be warned. The process is simple but the application is extremely difficult. Part of breaking through the drama is noticing how it plays out. Change follows from there.

Taking your power back – it is one of the greatest feelings in the world!  


About the author:                                                                                                                  

Clive Kaplan is a prolific writer on LinkedIn PULSE. He has written over 45 articles on various topics from financial management and operations to job search and confidence building. He is also the author of the winQs series (pronounced ‘winks’) which appears regularly on the LinkedIn network. 

Being a CA(SA) with over 20 years’ experience as an executive director in both listed and unlisted companies, Clive brings some interesting perspectives to the field of management. Having been involved at Director/Board level, he offers a wealth of wisdom on both the people and business front.

Clive is the CEO of GREEN MIND CAPITAL (Pty) Ltd. The company focuses on assisting executives, especially emerging young CA’s, maximize their potential and fast-track their careers.

Clive has been involved with coaching and self-development since 1994. He has a particular interest in Cognitive Awareness Technology (CAT) and has completed a number of advanced courses on the topic including The More To Life Training, Way of The Warrior, The Power of Self Esteem, The Power of Purpose, The Power of Connection, The A & B Phase Mentor Training, The I Am Training, Joy Spring, and is in the process of completing the world-renowned ORSC Corporate Coaching Course.

Clive’s mix of years of practical executive experience coupled with his own personal self-development journey brings together a unique method of Transformation Coaching. He has hundreds of hours of one-on-one coaching to his credit

Clive is also a ORT Jet mentor and works closely with the More To Life Program, both on a voluntary basis.

In his personal life, Clive is an avid walker and swimmer both of which he does most days throughout the year.

He has a passion for SA history, specifically around the Anglo-Boer War era and collects books relating to this period. He also has a tongue-in-cheek fascination with the President Paul Kruger’s hidden treasure (commonly known as the Kruger Millions) and is somewhat of an authority on the subject.  

Clive spends a lot of his spare time in the bush and has a special interest in photography. 

Clive is married to Adrienne and has two young children – Bianca aged 14 and Daniel aged 10. He lives with his family in Johannesburg, South Africa.