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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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I am working with someone who I suspect has fairly

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I am working with someone who I suspect has fairly destructive narcissistic qualities in a stressful, time bound environment. I am finding it difficult to deal with him because my work load is making me stressed - which is not ideal for dealing with such people. I have asked for more help with my work (which I may get) but find that I am dwelling too much on the disconcerting things that this person is trying to do to throw me off balance (including trying to make me look foolish infront of my boss whom I have much respect for).
Any advice ?

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how overwhelming this situation must be for you. On the one hand you know that this person needs to realize you need to be treated better. But on the other hand he is narcissistic, so he doesn't see this at all.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. 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 it 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 though to get the project done if I can't help you 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 don't know if 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.

Now when it comes to your boss, you need to develop a rapport that lets the boss know how much you're trying to keep the narcissist on track and that he makes everyone function less well but that you're putting up with it and trying to thrive. Do this very slowly and you'll see that the boss will recognize the situation.

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

Here's a good book to keep around: Toxic Coworkers by Cavaiola and Lavendar. Here's the Amazon page for it:

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

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