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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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How to deal with peers silent treatment, knowing full well

Resolved Question:

How to deal with peer's silent treatment, knowing full well that it's part of strategy to push one to leave (ie not wanting to work with it in the first place)?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 4 years ago.

Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.

Is this a bullying type situation in the workplace?

Is this peer like this with others or just you?

How does your supervisor view this situation?

Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Bully situation in the office - not openly. But there is certainly (a) jealousy & (b) racial issues in the office


The "peer" aims only at me only, not the others. He has different expertise than mine, but we are of same level of professional seniority, except he came to the firm 4 years earlier than I did.


The "peer" is the person I supposingly report to.


His supervisor silently endorse his behaviour as they would like to push me out. In fact, he is into getting people under him (in other working teams) compete with each other, while he plays favourtism. He heads a bigger group of people (than myself & my "peer"/supervisor team) & morale in the department is very low.

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how overwhelming this situation must be for you. This sounds truly awful. You're amazing to be able to put up with it at all. The stress must be awful. We're going to work on a premise here:

We're going to treat this person as if he's a narcissist. Now, he very well may BE a narcissist. Or he may not at all be narcissistic but doing the bidding of his own narcissistic bosses who are on his back. And you may be the one he's taking his own pain out on. But you also sense he is enjoying this. That's also not proof of narcissism, but for our purposes, it's all good enough. Why?

Because you're being subjected to workplace bullying. And the best way to COPE with that is to TREAT the situation as if you're dealing with a narcissist. Okay?

So, again, we're not diagnosing the poor wretch (I hope that made you smile), we're using the best terms and mechanisms for coping with him.

The principles of working with a narcissist are really very simple. In fact there's only one: you make everything YOU want him to do for you into something that's for HIS benefit. You never talk about your needs, your problems, your stress, your anything. You only talk about his needs, his problems, his stress, his anything. Got it?

Thus, example: he piles up something else on you when you're stretching to meet a deadline. You say something like, "John (whatever his name is). I see how this new thing is really important. really needs to get done. You know, though, I have a feeling that you're going to have to do too much to get the original other project done if I can't help by doing [whatever you're already trying to get done] because I'm now going to be doing this new thing. John, how can I make it easier for you? By doing the new thing or by doing this other stuff I've been doing?"

I can imagine that's a perfect statement of what your tasks are like, but I want you to get the idea that you make everything revolve around him and his needs. Period. Then you go and gag. Do the gagging when you're absolutely sure he's not around and your girlfriends aren't going to tell on you.

The principle: everything you are doing, you are doing to try to make him succeed, him look better, his load lighter, him successful. You see yourself as his helper, someone helping him do the best. Got it?

Your project is ending. You're already EXCITED about what new things he's working on that you can plug into to help make them successful. Right?

Again, step 2 is that you go gag in the ladies lounge. That's fine. But when someone wants to exert their power, the way you have power over THEM is to give them pretend power. The more you resist, the more they will dominate you. So you don't resist, you lather it on, go home, and keep looking for the next job.

Okay. I hope you realize how simple this really is because narcissists are really one-track people. So don't belittle the simplicity!

Here are some good books to look at and keep around. Choose whichever ones look most interesting to you. I’ve listed them in order I think they might be useful:

Toxic Coworkers by Cavaiola and Lavendar.

The Complete Guide to Understanding, Controlling, and Stopping Bullies and Bullying at Work by Margaret Kohut.

Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal with People who Try to Control YOU by Patricia Evans.

I wish you the best and remember: you have to work with him; he's got to live with himself 24 hours a day!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. You are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark

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