Don't let a narcissist derail your career

Although a narcissist appears charming and charismatic, what can lay underneath will rear its ugly head sooner or later.

Women at Work - Kristen Asleson column sig
We are part of The Trust Project.

Working with people, specifically co-workers versus customers or clients, is not always pleasant. Bouncing from job to job, thinking the “grass is greener on the other side” is a fantasy. For many, staying put is the only option.

Unfortunately, just as in personal relationships, there are toxic people in the workplace who just won’t go away or chase the above said fantasy. So how does one deal with toxic coworkers, more specifically narcissist coworkers? Sadly, not everyone can jump ship when faced with this type of person, so tolerating, handling and dealing with it head-on is the only solution.


For those who do not know how a narcissistic person behaves, it is best described as one who has an extreme level of self-involvement that makes them ignore the needs of those around them. Now, we all may show this type of trait occasionally, but a true narcissist frequently disregards others or their feelings. In addition, they have a way of twisting realities and situations into someone else’s fault or problem, which results in the victim feeling or appearing “crazy.”
Heather, a close friend, describes this type of person in her personal life as “Someone who knows no compromise or honest communication.” She adds, “I state my point, set boundaries, and do not allow arguments. If the conversation engages, it takes a sharp left off course. It’s the only way.”

But what if you worked with a person with such a disorder? Work life is not always unicorns and rainbows, so to speak. Although a narcissist appears charming and charismatic, what can lay underneath will rear its ugly head sooner or later.


In the workplace, these types of people undermine and ridicule. As described in Psychology Today, they also:

  • Take credit for your hard work.

  • Give you backhanded compliments.

  • Ridicule you in front of your coworkers.

  • Blame everything on you.

  • Know your weak spot and exploit it.

  • Actively try to get you demoted or fired.

  • Lie to get ahead.

  • Seem to compete with everyone to be “the best” at work.

  • Spread gossip about you, and denies doing it when you confront them

  • Sabotage your work.

  • Pressure you to do something unethical.

  • Get jealous of your accomplishments instead of congratulating you.

No matter the situation, these toxic coworkers want to be viewed as the best, even if it means cutting down others.
Here are a few tips to protect yourself. First and foremost, as much as possible get documentation for everything. If you happen to be meeting with a narcissist, take notes together and review prior to starting the project. Not only do you need to document tasks and instructions, you must also document this person’s behaviors.

Have you ever been asked for your opinion at work? Typically, this is normal between coworkers, but when the narcissistic person asks for this, watch out, generally it is a trap. Everything you say will be manipulated and passed on in a twisted, exaggerated manner.

Whenever possible, have a coworker around you when speaking to this person. That person can be the difference in a “he-said, she-said” settlement. Also, simply avoid contact.

Lastly, you must realize this is not personal. If you are a target, it is most likely because your performance at work is better than theirs. These attacks are due to their insecurities, which they do not recognize.

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to .

EMBED: PB newsletters signup banner link

What to read next
A building permit filed with the City of Rochester this week calls for a “tenant fit-up of new Mayo Clinic Retail” at 1129 Sixth St. NW. That is the address for the Barlow Plaza shopping center.
As the home of Mayo Clinic, Rochester residents are used to seeing famous faces on the street. However, a recent visit by a high-profile political couple made more of a public splash than usual.
Columnist Dave Conrad says you need to be looking forward to know where you're going.
Rochester welcomes a new burger joint in town with Red Cow, which opened Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. The owner, Luke Shimp, hails from Lake City and sees the first Red Cow outside of the Twin Cities as a homecoming.