11 signs you're working with a narcissist

Most people have a bit of a narcissistic streak

Aine Cain
Monday 15 August 2016 16:47 BST
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Wilson with Ben Stiller in ‘Zoolander 2’
Wilson with Ben Stiller in ‘Zoolander 2’ (Getty)

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter with a beautiful face and a rotten heart. Coming upon a clear pool in the forest, he fell in love with his own reflection. All Narcissus could do was pine over himself until he withered away and died.

Unless you took part in some seriously trippy weekend conference, I'd guess that nothing like that's ever happened at your job.

However, that doesn't mean there aren't narcissists among us. In fact, most people have a bit of a narcissistic streak — it's really more of a spectrum than a dichotomy. Odds are, you probably work — or have worked — with one (especially if you live in a big city and work in an entertainment-based industry, according to Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman).

Here are some signs that you are working with a narcissist:

Drake Baer and Vivian Giang contributed to a previous version of this article.

They hate emotions

The long-awaited Game of Thrones season 6 will be officially released on April 24
The long-awaited Game of Thrones season 6 will be officially released on April 24 (HBO)

The “very fact of having a feeling in the presence of another person suggests you can be touched emotionally by friends, family, partners, and even the occasional tragedy or failure,” says Harvard Medical School psychologist Craig Malkin

That's why narcissists abhor them.

Feeling an emotion “challenges their sense of perfect autonomy,” he continues. “To admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can be affected by someone or something outside of them.”

As a result, narcissists tend to change the topic of conversation when feelings come up — especially their own.

Depending on your office culture, you may or may not be pouring your heart out to your colleagues. If one of your coworkers seems unusually allergic to emotions, they might just be shy or reserved — or there might be something more going on.

They really, really love being in control

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey

Narcissists thrive in “leadership situations where they can dazzle and dominate others without having to cooperate or suffer the consequences of a bad reputation,” psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman wrote at Psychology Today.

So if you're on the hunt for narcissists in the office, you might want to look at your manager first.

They are young and male (and possess all the other traits)

After 34,653 face-to-face interviews, psychologist Frederick Stinson found that men tend to be more narcissistic than women across their lifespans.

Narcissism is also believed to peak during adolescence and decline with age.

They dress better than everybody else

Narcissists are generally rated as more stylish and physically attractive, according to a study conducted by Simine Vazire, a psychologist at Washington University, according to Psychology Today.

Instead of listening, they just wait to speak

Donald Trump, pictured with Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete, at the launch of the Billionaire's fragrance, Success, at Macy's in New York City, in 2012
Donald Trump, pictured with Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete, at the launch of the Billionaire's fragrance, Success, at Macy's in New York City, in 2012 (Getty Images)

Don't be fooled by the fact you get a few words in edgewise during your conversation with the office's resident narcissist.

Anita Vangelisti, a psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin, found that narcissists typically prefer to keep the conversation centered around themselves.

You know you're speaking to a narcissist if their eyes glaze over when you speak, they use exaggerated hand and body movements, and they keep changing the topic of conversation back to themselves.

They like to put people down

Narcissistic people intentionally put down others in order to maintain a high positive image of themselves.

“Seeking admiration is like a drug for narcissists,” said Mitja D. Back, a psychologist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. “In the long run it becomes difficult because others won't applaud them, so they always have to search for new acquaintances from whom they get the next fix.”

Needless to say, serious control issues and the need to build themselves up at the expense of others may not make for the ideal manager.

They swear all the time

Psychologists Nicholas Holtzman and Michael Strube from Washington University in St. Louis found in a study that subjects who scored higher in narcissism are argumentative and curse more than their modest counterparts.

They also tend to use more sexually explicit language.

So watch out for the workplace potty mouth.

They have delusions of grandeur

(PA
(PA (PA)

Many people fantasize about rocking out to a packed stadium or leading the country from the Oval Office. It's pretty normal to imagine yourself doing great things.

The problem with narcissists is that they buy their fantasies — they think they're just that great and special, according to PsychCentral.com.

So keep an eye on that colleague who leans over and tells you that she's going to be running the company one day.

They take advantage of others

The Mayo Clinic notes that narcissists tend to views others as tools to be used and then tossed away.

The office narcissist is likely the person who's willing to trample others on their path to the top. They simply don't feel guilt about hurting others, because it's all about them.

They struggle with envy

This one's kind of a double-edged sword, according to the Mayo Clinic.

On the one hand, narcissists are convinced that everyone else is jealous of their brilliance. So that coworker who keeps dishing on how everyone in the office is out to drag him down should set off some red flags.

On the other hand, narcissists tend to feel acute envy as well. When others do well, they simply can't feel happy — they believe that they deserve that success.

They're arrogant

It's great to have self-esteem. Once this confidence verges into arrogance, it's toxic. PsychCentral.com reports that haughtiness is a definite sign of narcissism.

Arrogance isn't just about pounding your chest and yelling about how great you are. Watch out for the quietly haughty narcissists as well.

Read more:

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Read the original article on Business Insider UK. © 2016. Follow Business Insider UK on Twitter.

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