The term narcissist comes from Greek mythology, where Narcissus, a young man who fell deeply in love with himself upon seeing his image reflected in the water, drowned while contemplating his own beauty. “It is a personality disorder characterized by excessive self-esteem, lack of empathy and a constant search for admiration,” explains Rebeca Gómez, psychologist at the European Institute of Positive Psychology. Recognizing them is not complicated, says the expert: “They usually follow the following patterns: egocentric behavior, an exaggerated belief in their importance and fantasies of success such as inventing titles that they do not have or successes that they have never achieved .” .” They also often lack empathy, adds the psychologist, “and they exploit others to achieve their goals.”
Narcissism can affect men and women, although some studies show that there are differences in the expression of narcissistic traits. “For example, men may show more aggression and striving for power, while women may focus more on appearance and social manipulation,” says the psychologist, pointing to the empirical study on narcissistic personality disorder by José Luis Trechera and Genoveva Millán Vásquez de la Torre and Emilio Fernandez Morales.
Joanaina Barceló is a social worker and expert in self-esteem, relationships and emotional dependency. The coach adds to all the previously mentioned characteristics of the narcissistic personality: “They have an excessive need to be admired, are very good at exploiting interpersonal relationships and are excellent manipulators.” He also adds: “They are envious and believers , that others envy their great virtues, which leads them to always display arrogant attitudes and behavior.”
The moment someone realizes that the other is a narcissist and lets him know, “he will speak ill of you, flaunt all your faults, humiliate you, criticize you and threaten you, because he feels contempt for those “And from then on he is no longer able to take responsibility for any problem or to blame himself for something and ask for forgiveness,” says Barceló . Of course, adds the social worker, “a person with narcissistic personality disorder will never recognize that they are narcissistic, so this is another sign to take into account when confronted with someone who exhibits narcissistic traits.” Deep down Internally, he continues, all these characteristics “are due to a lack of self-esteem and internal problems that they struggle with on a daily basis, with many conflicts of trust, although they seem to be exactly the opposite.” Therefore, you will be interested in his attitude and his behavior, his words and his lack of empathy or emotional recognition.”
Confronting a narcissist
Barceló claims that being in a relationship with a narcissist is complicated: “They will always try to intimidate you, so it is important not to be afraid of them and not to fall under their spell, because they are like snake charmers. Fighting narcissism, especially in close relationships, requires many attitudes, but these include setting clear boundaries, maintaining assertive communication, not satisfying your need for admiration or attention, and especially not responding to calls, messages, or attempts to communicate to react. Avoid face-to-face encounters, seek support from friends, family or professionals, and consider legal action in the event of harassment.”
On a sentimental level: “When we talk about a narcissistic ex-partner, what we call vacuuming can happen.” [del inglés aspirar]“This means that after a breakup and when you least expect it, you will receive a text or a call from your ex saying that he cannot live without you or that he needs you, and he will pretend “As if nothing had happened,” concludes the social worker. .
The narcissist in the work environment
The narcissist hardly varies at work. “In the workplace they can have very obvious defining characteristics, such as: B. dominant behavior, the obsession to elicit admiration from others, lack of empathy and the tendency to take advantage of other people around them to achieve their goals,” explains Ana Hernández, management expert on stress in the workplace. In addition, he continues, “the constant need for attention, exaggeration of achievements and lack of recognition towards others are telling signs that directly point to profiles with this bias.” Often they show a lack of responsibility for mistakes and an obvious tendency to avoid situations to manipulate for their own benefit. Observing repeating patterns of contempt toward colleagues or people who report to you is another sure sign that we have a textbook narcissistic person.”
Constant need for attention, exaggerating achievements, and lack of appreciation for others are telltale signs that you may have encountered a narcissist at work.Paul Bradbury (Getty Images)
If this narcissistic person is your boss at work, “it is important to pursue a targeted strategy with great inner balance,” explains Hernández. “The ideal situation is to maintain clear and direct communication based on facts and not on opinions or interpretable arguments, because you will use these to find sufficient reasons and create unnecessary confrontations,” he advises. “Observing these people without preconceived judgments helps a lot when it comes to filtering that person, and another advantage when it comes to protecting yourself from their influence is knowing in advance that they will receive recognition and need admiration for their achievements. Focusing on tangible and demonstrable results will be one way to maintain these boundaries. The ideal thing is to look for a supportive network of colleagues in order to create a healthy work environment,” recommends Hernández.
“Being careful without losing authenticity and loyalty to your own values, and managing expectations are key when dealing with people with these characteristics,” he summarizes. First of all, this stress expert recalls: “The first suggestion is to maintain balance and not allow our amygdala to be activated, otherwise we will become victims of amygdala hijacking, in which the only response is one of these three: flee, fight or.” stay quiet. That means none of the three options suits us.”