The QA Way To Handle Narcissists At Work

A few weeks ago, ComputerWorld offered an almost helpful guideline, Narcissists at work: How to deal with arrogant, controlling, manipulative bullies.  The Narcissist is described as:

Narcissism, defined as a personality disorder by the National Institutes of Health, is a pattern of behaviors that show a pervasive need for attention and admiration, as well as a lack of concern or empathy for others.

Jean Ritala.In the workplace, says Ritala, narcissists tend to be successful and goal-oriented, with no concern for others who get in their way. They feel a need to control co-workers, projects and situations around them, and they can be manipulative, spinning situations and facts to make it appear that others around them are the problem, not them.

According to Ritala, narcissists often display the following traits at work:

  • Arrogant and self-centered, they expect special treatment and privileges.
  • They can be charismatic, articulate and funny.
  • They are likely to disrespect boundaries and the privacy of others.
  • They can be patronizing and critical of others but unwilling or unable to accept criticism or disagreement.
  • Likely to be anxiety-stricken or paranoid, they may exhibit violent, rage-like reactions when they can’t control a situation or their behaviors have been exposed.
  • They are apt to set others up for failure or pit co-workers against one another.
  • They can be cruel and abusive to some co-workers, often targeting one person at a time until he quits.
  • They may need an ongoing “narcissist supply” of people who they can easily manipulate and who will do whatever they suggest — including targeting a co-worker — without question.
  • They are often charming and innocent in front of managers.

We in QA prefer to use the term developers, designers, or client account representatives for the same concept.  Whereas ComputerWorld prefers hiring a professional who coaches people on how to handle narcissists, convincing narcissists to attend counseling, and involving HR every step of the way in documenting narcissism so they can be disciplined, your Director has a simpler solution:

Hire sociopaths to counteract the narcissists.

Remember to hire a good mix of creepy/scary sociopaths and charming, manipulative sociopaths to keep the other teams in the office off-balance.  Also, remember you cannot really manage those with no moral compass but a drive for quality excellence; you have to sort of herd them.

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