They know exactly how everything should be done. And woe unto any coworker who doesn’t do everything their way. Welcome to the stressful reality of narcissists in the workplace.

Stress

In a world where we’re all being challenged to manage our stress better, narcissists don’t have a prayer. Their stress is “way up there.” It’s not that their workloads are so much heavier than their coworkers. No, it’s because they make such heavy weather of their workloads. And everyone else’s workloads, too.

They’ve got their fingers in all the pies. They know how things should be done. And it drives ’em crazy when their coworkers don’t do things the “right” way, i.e. their way. They keep telling everyone how to do things “correctly,” but it falls on deaf ears.

So the narcissist’s stress level goes up. Their cortisol goes up. Their blood sugar goes up. Their blood pressure goes up. You can try telling them that their need to control everyone is the cause, but they’ll just attack you for telling them an inconvenient truth. (Been there!)

Nope, everyone else is the problem. Everyone else is the cause of their stress. If everyone else would just get in line, their stress would go down. So, they decide to take action.

Memos & Emails

Narcissists love to govern and control long-distance. This is where memos and emails come in. They’re always sending ’em. Telling others how to do their jobs, cc-ing or b-cc-ing the boss.

Mind you! The narcissist has no actual authority. They’re not even in a management position. Or they may have conned The Boss into giving them a crumb of faux authority. Whatever their status, they’ll tell you what to do and how to do it, bidden or unbidden. After all, the “right way” is their private dominion. Their proprietary knowledge.

And woe unto you if you don’t get in line with their latest memo, their most recent email. When you don’t, they leave work in a rage. Every. Single. Stinkin’. Day.

Training

When they simply can’t stand it any longer, they decide to take the initiative. They schedule a meeting, a training meeting. They may even con the boss into giving the meeting his blessing.

Naturally, their coworkers get pissed. Really pissed at being told how to do things by someone who is no better, no higher, no more skilled or experience than they are.

And the narcissist gets pissed right back.

Because of their complete lack of boundaries, the narcissist truly does not understand that they did something wrong. To them, doing things the best possible way is paramount. They pursue this ideal single-mindedly.

Narcissists always pursue their objective with a complete disregard for things such as boundaries and emotions. Feelings simply don’t matter particularly if they are other people’s feelings. Narcissists, as I’ve said before, are extremely logical and practical. They always choose the simplest route to their objective. And if this means behaving as though they are in authority and treading on others’ toes to demand perfection, so be it.

The fact that their coworkers take violent objection to being told how to do things “their way” simply doesn’t compute. The fact that they just pulled rank, doesn’t compute. The fact that they’re behaving as though they have authority doesn’t phase them in the slightest. They revel in being in control.

When everyone gets mad at them, they get mad right back. They truly believe they did nothing, nothing wrong.

Authority

Speaking of authority, narcissists don’t get on awfully well with it themselves. I remember hearing a story of one narcissist who was ordered by The Boss to turn off their computer when they went to lunch. This narcissist refused…and was fired. Naturally.

A narcissist’s issues with authority are compounded if they clash with another card-carrying narcissist in the workplace. Oh, that’s when it gets very sticky indeed. As they say, “Two of a trade never agree.” Hell hath no fury…like two narcissists at loggerheads with each other.

I remember hearing another story of two narcissists who weren’t playing nicely in the sandbox together. Their bosses decided it’d be a good idea to have a “clearing of the air” meeting. So they brought these two individuals together, face-to-face, to hash out their differences. Their respective bosses played referees.

It was a meeting to be remembered. They yelled and screamed at each other for an hour. When the decibels got too high, their bosses intervened. The meeting became the stuff of legend, as the gossip about it raced through the entire company. And the narcissists were so proud! Gloating! Reveling in the fact that now everyone knew about their fiery, terrifying tempers, and would be cowed into submission.

They should have been ashamed of themselves! How unprofessional!

Working Alone

In the final analysis, narcissists work best alone. No authority figures. No annoying “slip-shod” coworkers who just won’t do things right. Being an entrepreneur or freelancer works best for the narcissist.

Mind you, it doesn’t reduce their stress level. They’re so adamantly focused on winning, on success that they drive up their own stress levels. Nothing ever changes. They never learn. It must be a painful, difficult way to live and make a living. They remind me of this famous quote from the bard himself, William Shakespeare.

“But man, proud man,
Dress’d in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d.”