Narcissists at work

Upside of narcissismA Lovefraud reader sent me a link to a free e-book. The reader’s only comment was, “ugh.”  Here’s the book:

The Upside of Narcissism in the Workplace

The book was created by Hogan Assessment Systems. On its website, this company says, “Hogan uses the powerful science of personality assessment to help you hire the right people, develop talented employees, build great leaders, and impact the bottom line.”

I downloaded the e-book. It’s very short only nine pages. It points out that young people in general exhibit more narcissism than in the past, but in “controlled doses,” narcissism may be good for an employee’s career.

The e-book points out the potential pitfalls of narcissism. For example, people high in narcissism are often impulsive, entitled, insensitive and unrealistically confident about their abilities.

The e-book suggests that by presenting personal development as a “strategy for advancing their personal agenda,” narcissists can tone down their narcissism, and improve their career success.

Narcissism and sociopathy

All sociopaths are narcissists, but not all narcissists are sociopaths.

Here’s how WebMD describes Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

Narcissistic personality disorder is further characterized by an abnormal love of self, an exaggerated sense of superiority and importance, and a preoccupation with success and power. However, these attitudes and behaviors do not reflect true self-confidence. Instead, the attitudes conceal a deep sense of insecurity and a fragile self-esteem. People with narcissistic personality disorders also often have a complete lack of empathy for others.

One of the key differences between narcissists and sociopaths is mentioned in this description: Deep inside, narcissists are insecure. Sociopaths are not insecure about anything.

Another difference is that narcissists are so focused on themselves that they are somewhat clueless when they hurt others. Sociopaths, on the other hand, often set out to intentionally exploit and damage others. All they really want is power and control.

Deal with a narcissist?

Narcissism and sociopathy are both on the same continuum of personality disorders, and the criteria overlap. It’s often difficult to tell one from the other.

In romantic relationships, I don’t think it matters sociopaths and narcissists should be avoided. I mean, what is the point of a romance with someone who has “a complete lack of empathy for others?”

But what about in the workplace? Can you deal with a narcissistic co-worker or boss?

And what do you think about the suggestion that narcissists can rein in the negative aspects of their personality and become confident and energetic members of the company team?

If you have worked with narcissists, please post about your experiences.


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I think Narcissists are disruptive on the job. They by definition cannot be team players. Instead of trying to do what is best for whoever they are working for it would all be about showboating who they are. And God forbid if anyone got in their way, client or fellow worker there would be no qualms about trampling them underfoot. I know I have read that makes them “great” CEO’s, but I think that is part of the problem with big business today.
My experience with my ex is that he is very good at finding jobs that pay well. He promises the moon in very convincing ways during the interview process. He just doesn’t stay very long, because he doesn’t end up delivering. He has been fired from three of his past four jobs, with an average stay of 1 1/2 years. The fourth job, he managed to stay longer, and left on his own terms, but with accusations of threatening to kill someone he worked with. Right now he is unemployed again.


The narcissists that I have worked with are two-faced. When they are in the company of their superiors, they turn on the charm and when they’re not, they are themselves. Every former co-worker (they all were either fired in time or quit), that I figured out was a narcissist (personally I suspect all of the ones that I encountered were female sociopaths) typically had friendly, outgoing personalities, being very dishonest (each one of them stole something from their employer, whether it be money, meds., groceries, clothing, food stamps, etc.), getting this information by talking to past and/or current employees.


”The narcissists that I have worked with are two-faced. When they are in the company of their superiors, they turn on the charm and when they’re not, they are themselves.”

How very true, bluejay. I find this especially with goverment companies, such as local authorities. I swear their employees go for the job that allows them to be narcissistic, that the employers recognise that in them, as they have no empathy at all, and even when it stands out to anyone like a sore thumb that they are at fault, they blame you, the tenant; taking responsibilty for what they do is out of the question. Yet in their private lives they wouldn’t have it done to them. And yes, the worst Are female, the ones at the top, they don’t see anything wrong in yelling at you and not allowing you to say anything when you have phoned them to discuss something important. Its all power and control :/


I like Scott Adams (Dilbert author) comment that difficult people may have some work skills, but overall it’s not worth it.

We have a narcissist in my work group. We let him go to meetings and pontificate and want to believe we are playing to everyone’s strengths. But when he is asked to provide reports, they are way below par and have to be reworked. He has a low tolerance for frustration and usually ends up huffing and puffing and walking out of meetings. He also does a lot of changing the subject when he is pressed for information or asked to provide real input.

What about taking those of us who do the work and raise our skills in communication, etc., rather than taking a narcissist and trying to raise their skills of awareness and competence. I have yet to witness him learning anything. Could he ever become an energetic member of a *team*? I’ve worked with him for 20 years – nope – hasn’t happened yet.

I wonder if this study will follow the results long term and measure how much narcissists accomplish vs. how much productivity is lost and how many deliverables have to be reworked or cancelled. It’s discouraging to see the popularity of toxic people in the media and TV shows.


I have been working with someone who I would consider to be a narcissist/borderline sociopath for 7 years now. This person has been elevated to somewhat of a team lead position as she is the longest standing team member. Our boss always directs us to her for questions and she does our reviews for us as well as our boss does not know the ins and outs of our role very well.

She will always have 1 target on the team that she turns everyone else on the team against. For the first 5 years that I worked with her, I was actually very good friends with her. I didn’t see this clearly until the day I upset her. I have always been one of her pawns in her workplace game.

I found out I was pregnant so I cancelled on a group trip to Vegas (she does not seem to understand pregnancy so is unaware how uncomfortable being 7 months pregnant and walking around Vegas sounds). Because of this she stopped talking to me altogether. When I got back from Mat Leave, she made my work life a living hell. Every day things were being over exaggerated to my boss, and “preformance issues” were popping out of nowhere when I have had nothing but amazing reviews before all of this. She convinced my boss that I needed to be completely retrained! For 4 months after my return to work it was constant attacks from this woman and she was turning the team against me.

Finally, things died down and she started talking to me again. Only this time, it was pointing out all the faults of another team member. She had switched targets! I could see exactly what she was doing. Now that I wasn’t the target of interest, I was supposed to be best buds with her and help ruin this other woman’s sanity. I am still in this sort of working relationship now. I decided it was safer for myself if I just stayed on her good side and stayed out of the drama. I would love to call her out on this stuff but I know it will ruin my career. I just can’t risk it.


How can one be positive that “narcissists are insecure” and sociopaths are not? Both conditions stem from an overwhelming love of self and belief in their superiority. But cannot both of them ultimately stem from an initial feeling of fear and insecurity? I think both the narcissist and the psychotic KNOW that they’re hurting others but neither cares any longer as in both cases, the love of self/absense of fear predominates. I often pondered this question when my family members usually espoused whatever would promote conflict and war. Thus, is war not as often motivated by defence/fear as by offense? I.e. If I get him first, then I won’t need to fear him? Questions I still ask myself in trying to comprehend the mind of the narcissist, psychotic.


Hi flicka, please do not confuse “psychopath” and “psychotic”, as they are not the same thing. Psychopaths know full well what they do to hurt people. Someone who is psychotic is suffering from psychosis, which includes hallucinations and loss of contact with reality. Again, not the same thing, and it is important that this is clarified right now so that people are properly educated. I don’t mean to criticize, but I am concerned for the person who is seeking information. It needs to be the correct information.


In a capitalist system any Cluster B disorder is an evolutionary advantage. Lacking empathy gives an NSP the ability to do things to advance himself that the normal person isn’t willing to do. It is my conviction that NSPs gravitate toward positions of power for this very reason. I also believe that the selfishness and lack of empathy that we are experiencing as a culture is a result of this gravitation, since those in power steer the media and other sources that influence culture. Whether it stems from deep seated insecurity or not it is still an advantage in a system driven by profit and greed. The laws of capitalism as a system result in wealth accumulating in fewer and fewer hands at the expense of the majority of people. These hands are undoubtedly overwhelmingly disordered.


Very well said, LK, I wholeheartedly agree with you. The government have us where they want us and I don’t see anything short of anarchy to do anything about it. We need some sort of revolution but how we get others to do this, is the problem, so we we feel forced to accept our lot. Of course this leads to medical and mental problems and so the government have to pay for it somewhere, although all they do is give us a few crumbs. One MP in the UK, wrote an article in our local paper about tenants of local authorities, he finished by saying, ”Let them eat cake”, yes, seriously.

Maybe this is why they have closed so many of our hospitals!

still reeling

No, I do not think a narcissist can be a good employee if they have to work with others. Sitting in their basement carving toys maybe. I’ve worked with them, other than path himself, and it’s hell. They are miserable and make you feel lonely and angry just being around them…at least that’s how I felt working w/a female narc. for years. Awful experience.

I went from my path experience at my last job to a new job, small firm run by a narc. It’s not fun at all. Of course, my stint with another narc and then a socio doesn’t help at all. But this guy is a pip and I’m about to walk out if they don’t dump me off. I feel that could even happen today. This guy will run his mouth for hours about himself but couldn’t care less about me. An example, he told me a looooong, very boring story about himself and when I decided to try and overcome my resistance to share my own thoughts, he (always the comedian and I might add filthy dirty comments are a highlight for him-that is ok w/me, just saying you’d think he’d be more fun)took his glasses and pretended to prop his eyes open with them. It’s all about him. I took the job because the atmosphere was supposed to be “fun” and now I’m sorry because I didn’t follow my gut. This guy can be extremely insensitive when I ask questions, even though he promised me, as I was so skeptical about the subject matter, I would be just fine and no worries. He can be so engaging and funny, then will turn around and bite my head off or snap at me. I’m trying not to take it personally but after 3 horrible employment experiences in a row, I’m very unhappy, also not young and no jobs out there. I’ve decided I have to get up my nerve and if he snaps at me again (which he does NOT do to anyone else in the office or any clients of course) I am going to tell him not to do that anymore, that when he does it makes me feel negatively about him and that will affect my ability and desire to do my best job.

Have not read other comments yet but will come back later. Going to be late if I don’t get a move on.

Hi to all and hope you are all as getting along as best as can be expected.

the sisterhood

From my experience, the narcissists I have worked with all seem to be in positions of power. No one seems to want to rock the boat and stand up to them but will, indeed, complain behind their back. The narcissists appear to have complete control over how colleagues interact with one another. The narcissists who are lower on the power ladder seems to always have the ear of the ones who are in power and they are very, very sneaky about it. I’ve come to a point where I trust very few people at work. I always think people have an agenda and am very careful about the opinions and information I share. It sucks to have to work in that kind of environment, but I don’t invest my personal life and well being on “friends” from work.

On another note, my ex narcissists who sent me on my healing journey where I discovered this very site several years back is a very, very successful executive. And from what I’ve gathered at the glimpses in to his life now, he is very well liked and respected. He has wickedly clever sense of humor and is highly intelligent…BUT, I do know him to be extremely insecure and all about image. When i was with him, he was desperate for people to like him, look up to him, etc. To the point of paranoia. Every move he has made in his life is to get to the top. The meant using people who he thought would get him there. At one time, he thought I could fulfill some power fantasy he had. When he realized that I just wanted a simple authentic relationship, I was immediately discarded. He moved onto to a woman that basically handed him his career. He was very calculating and knew where his advantages lay. I don’t think for one moment he has changed, but that doesn’t mean he is unhappy or is miserable to work with. He has learned to garner affection very well in his position of power. He is very covert and sneaky. Very unauthentic. I think that is what most narcissists in the workplace look like.


I recently worked for a narcissist for a year. I found it to be impossible to stay there and keep my sanity. The rules constantly changed to suit her mood for the day. She continually threatened my job. (I was written up because she didn’t like my FONT in an email!) Regardless of what she wanted one day, it was subject to change at a moments notice, and we were all a bunch of idiots for not knowing it! Simply IMPOSSIBLE to work for


I have recently encountered a plethora of information on how psychopaths, narcisists, malignant and narcissts can be useful citizens because of their lack of empathy. I believe that it is a backlash by the disordered themselves and thier minions to their unwanted truth coming out.

It is rampant in our current political culture. business culture and legal system. I have watched it happen in my lifetime as the drive for power and money overcame the desire to cooperate, create and produce. IMO, the cause is overpopulation, television and apathy of the masses.

These disordered losers did not get where they are without crime and corruption which was ignored or covered up with lies. Decency is being belied and the wolves are running the sheep over a cliff.

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