3 Blog [12 Dec] How To Deal With A Narcissistic Colleague

​The people we end up working alongside may not be those we spend time with by choice. In the workplace, you can find yourself working with all sorts of different personalities. Some colleagues inevitably become great mates and some relationships eventually challenge you.

It’s also not uncommon to work alongside a colleague who behaves with difficulty. Perhaps they act defensively, become domineering, are sneaky and dishonest or don’t like owning up to their own mistakes. This behaviour is tricky to handle, especially when the behaviour appears narcissistic.

If you are struggling with a colleague’s difficult or toxic behaviour, here are some practical tips on approaching the matter.

How to handle: a colleague who doesn’t own up to their mistakes

Have you ever had that co-worker who avoids taking accountability at all costs? They may lie, deflect, or even shift the blame on others for their own failings. On a more extreme level, you may have a colleague taking credit for others’ successes and hard work.

These situations can cause tension between everyone on the job. While it may seem counter intuitive, ignoring the behaviour can be the best strategy. Run your own race, professionally make it known who was responsible for the work, stay on the facts. Over time the rest of the organisation will become aware of their mistakes and glory-stealing behaviour.

It usually doesn’t take long for the poor performing colleague to realise they either need to change, pick up their act or move on – you just need to ride it out.

How to handle: a domineering colleague

Maybe they’re constantly piping up in meetings? Perhaps they prioritise their ideas and actions over anyone else’s? Or are they just plain bossy? Having a domineering colleague who always wants to be the centre of attention can affect the morale of everyone around them.

When working alongside them on a project, set your boundaries on what you will and won’t discuss and make sure everyone involved knows their roles. Keep your head held high and don’t be afraid to vocalise your opinions.

Domineering colleagues often face the reality that no-one wants to work with them, and they feel sidelined and excluded. Often their first line of defence is to be bossier as they grapple for control. The outcome of which has one of three conclusions. Either they recognise the impact their behaviour has on others and adapt; they eventually overstep the mark and are managed out or they opt out of the organisation citing the business or their supervisor as the problem.

How to handle: an overly defensive or stubborn colleague

When your co-worker responds to feedback with anger or defiance, it can be difficult to manage. Being around constant negative or disagreeable attitudes puts a strain on the working environment. If you’re around an oppositional employee that seems to have a chip on their shoulder, then you have a few options are your fingertips.

Consider where the source of the defensiveness or stubbornness may lie. Perhaps they’re just having a bad day or are dealing with a personal issue in which case space could be the answer. Maybe they are stressed, overwhelmed, and feeling unsupported and offering to help could be the best way to handle the situation.

If, after careful evaluation you determine this is a pattern of negativity that is impacting you, it may be time to chat with them about how their behaviour is impacting you. Try your best to remain honest while being encouraging, rational and being careful not to add fuel to the fire. Stick to the issues and solutions to see if you can reach a place where they are less hostile and more collegiate.

How to handle: an aggressive colleague

Whether they’re quick to become verbally abusive, like to antagonise or have even raised a fist, aggressive colleagues are intimidating and can be emotionally exhausting. It may seem natural to want to fire back on the same level as them, though this is not wise.

Be assertive when necessary and make it clear you won’t be spoken down to or pushed around. They will soon get the message you are not prepared to be an enabler of their aggressive behaviour.

If you feel that a behaviour is becoming abusive – whether physical, emotional, or verbal – it is time to speak with your supervisor, Human Resources team or personnel manager.

If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.