Narcissists can be frustrating at work. Their constant need for attention, admiration, appreciation, and affirmation exhausts everyone around them. Yet without these, they become agitated, angry, and even abusive. Satisfying their essential needs is not as difficult as most think but it does require some basic understanding of how narcissists operate. The reward of a peaceful work environment is well worth the slight effort.
Attention. Being ignored is one of the ultimate evils for a narcissist. While they have no problem disregarding others, especially those considered to be inferior, narcissists will not tolerate being snubbed. Even small amounts of courtesy are useful, regardless if it is reciprocated. Not that the narcissist will appreciate the gesture but the absence of kindness will be noticed and used against a person later. Expecting the same level of attention in return, however, is pointless and will only increase frustration levels.
Admiration. The nature of narcissism is that a person believes they should be admired. Giving them anything short of this will be met with a back-lash. More harsh and disrespectful treatment often results in permanently severing the relationship. A simple statement with an expression of wonder or awe about how the narcissist is able to accomplish a task will satisfy their ego. But it should not be over the top or the narcissist will sense it as manipulative. Instead, find areas where genuine bewilderment can be expressed.
Appreciation. Everyone likes to be appreciated periodically. But for a narcissist, it must be almost daily. Frequently they will give lavish gifts as a way to indebt or obligate a person, demanding a constant flow of gratitude for their generosity. At work, a gift could be their assistance or support for a project. One “thank-you” is never enough and a gift cannot be forgotten. Recipients of a narcissist’s charity should find ways to express gratefulness as soon as the gift is re-mentioned. This is the narcissist’s indirect signal that they are in need of immediate appreciation.
Affirmation. Most narcissists will not admit they need approval from anyone but they do. At the heart of narcissism is a deeply insecure person who longs for acceptance. Demonstrating unconditional support in public will allow a person to privately confront as long as the narcissist feels encouraged during the process. Ringing their endorsement or validating their feelings reveals a commitment to a narcissist especially if it is done in front of an influential person.