Narcissists are individuals who have an inflated sense of self-worth. They can be especially difficult to deal with because they usually put themselves ahead of others and they lack empathy for others. Because narcissists often appear boastful and conceited, jealous and inconsiderate, it can be challenging to stay calm when interacting with these self-centered individuals. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to control your irritation when you must interact with them.
Learn as much as you can about narcissistic personalities and the causes and treatments of this personality disorder. Recognizing that the person you are dealing with fits a clinical profile can help you gain some much-needed objectivity.
Don't take personally what the narcissist says. Remind yourself that narcissists crave adulation and can't help themselves because they have a distorted view of their own self-importance.
Try to generate some pity for the narcissist. Remind yourself that the narcissist is not emotionally healthy and that low esteem may be buried under the bragging and grandiose expressions. Keep in mind that the narcissist is likely suffering from dysfunctional relationships at home as well as at work.
Approach your interactions with the narcissist with lowered expectations. If you keep hoping for a normal response from this person, you'll likely be disappointed and might become angry. If you keep your past experiences with this person in mind, you'll be better prepared and it will be easier to keep your cool.
Use visualization to distance yourself from distress you might be feeling. Imagine watching your conversation with the narcissist unfold. This will distance you from the situation and help you stay in control of your emotions.
Remind yourself of the narcissist's positive traits and any good moments you might have had together. Despite their faults, narcissists can be charming and charismatic. In order to gain the recognition they crave, they may be willing to make sacrifices. Remembering this side of their personalities can make diifcult interactions more tolerable.
Take a deep breath and calm yourself. You can control anger by focusing attention on your physiological responses and by making a conscious effort to slow your heart rate and regain control of your emotions.
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- Mayo Clinic: Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Psychology Today: How to Deal with a Narcissist
- American Psychological Association: Controlling Anger Before It Controls You
- Current Psychology: Narcissism and Sensitivity to Criticism
- American Journal of Psychoanalysis: Striving Toward Useful Interpretation While Managing Countertransference Enactments with a Thick-Skinned Narcissistic Personality
- Trying to reason with narcissists often doesn't work because they don't always think logically. They frequently deny statements they've just made. If this happens, it's best to just walk away rather than try to conduct a rational conversation.
Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.
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