When dealing with narcissistic personality disorder, it is important to first distinguish the difference between narcissistic character traits and everyday behaviors. It is common for one to think highly of oneself, yet those with narcissistic personality disorder often show complete disregard to the needs of others, so wrapped in their own self-indulgence and constant need for admiration, their ability to empathize dwindles until it eventually dissipates fully. In many cases, the façade of confidence is often a front to shadow a crippled self-esteem that could be shattered with the hint of criticism.
How to Deal With Narcissistic Personality Disorder
It should first be understood that having evident narcissistic tendencies does not automatically make an individual a bad person. It is easy to deem an individual selfish, self-centered and arrogant, but if one does not understand where that individual is coming from and why they are acting in such a manor, then one’s judgements are made out of ignorance. Dealing with such people, be it in the workplace or in your personal life, is a better option than abandoning all hopes to do so. To help, below are some do’s and don’ts to consider when dealing with narcissistic personality disorder.
Do understand the different types of narcissism. It is generally accepted that there are two types of narcissism: vulnerable and grandiose.
Vulnerable narcissists generally have low self-esteem, and their egotistical self-driven behavior is a mechanism that they use to hide this fact, whilst simultaneously attempting to boost their self-esteem with narcissistic actions.
A grandiose narcissist has no low self-esteem problems, rather their thoughts coincide with their actions, their confidence arising from the belief in their own self-greatness.
Don't assume that all individuals who show narcissistic tendencies are the same. Someone may be extremely self-centered, yet aside from that, have no intention to hurt or infringe upon others. Others can become so lost in their own self-delusions that they can justify invasive actions to themselves, such as looking through personal mail, undercutting you or stealing your ideas, all bad instances that can occur in a working or personal environment.
Do understand general characteristics of a narcissist so you can correctly identify the disorder. These characterizing traits include: the insatiable need for admiration, adoration, and to be the center of attention, an increased feeling of self-importance, and always putting themselves before others.
Don't hope to change them. Narcissists, especially those with grandiose narcissism, are often so indulged in their own delusions that any attempt made by you to change their character traits will often be unsuccessful and possibly met with hostility. Vulnerable narcissistic individuals may benefit from subtly boots of self-esteem with reaffirming language and actions.
Do try to focus on the positive aspects of someone's personality. This is not to say that one should ignore untoward things that are done to them, if the narcissistic individual whom you are dealing with happens to be a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, focusing on their good qualities can give you continued inspiration to deal with their bad qualities.
Don't try to argue with a narcissist. It will often be impossible to prove them wrong even if facts and logic stand against them. If they directly involve you in verbal conflict, simply and firmly state your position on the matter, and walk away if necessary. The rationale here being that this is how a narcissist would act, so will likely react to it more favorably than if you attempted to argue your point.
Do communicate. Whilst arguing is never advisable, when you are dealing with narcissistic personality disorder, especially if the individual is unavoidable, then communication is essential. You should try to avoid buying into their fantasies and egotistical exaggerations, but also remember that simply stating how you feel to them will often have no effect because they generally don't care. In such situations you may have to play up to their ego slightly, as this may be the only way of making progress in a discussion.
Don't overestimate someone's care for you. Whilst some people with narcissism can seem extremely loving and caring, they will generally put their own needs before the needs of others. It would be wise not to confine in such people or tell them secrets or other information that may embarrass or incriminate you, or otherwise cause you bother if used against you.
Do understand the individual’s needs. As they likely do not care for your needs or emotions, understanding what they do care about and what is most important to them can help when it comes to interacting with an individual who has narcissistic personality disorder.
Don’t let them bring you down or get in your way. Due to selfish actions, it is easy to be dragged down by someone whom you care for that has narcissistic tendencies. You should not let this happen. Limit the time you spend with them if possible, and seek out others that you can confine in.
Do determine when it is time to discontinue your relationship. If it is a loved one who continues to negatively affect your life, then as hard as it may be, there may come a time when enough is enough, and it may be best for you to walk away from them entirely. If it is a colleague or a boss, a change in roles or jobs may be necessary in extreme cases.
Don't hesitate to suggest help. Before dealing with narcissistic personality disorder becomes too much for you, try to talk to them about the possibility of seeking psychiatric help. This is the only way of resolving any underlying issues that may be causing narcissistic behaviors. It can be hard to make such a thing sound agreeable, you may wish to point out how it can benefit their lives and their well-being if they seek help for their problems.