When I was working in the corporate arena years ago, I had the great misfortune of reporting to and working with a number of extremely toxic colleagues and managers whose behavior hurt me and was also a complete mystery to me. I couldn’t understand their raging, their defensiveness, they inability to be challenged or questioned, or their penchant for drumming people out who were not obsequious and total “yes” people to them. And it was astounding to me that leadership and management allowed these individuals to remain in their posts, doing all this damage.
After I became a marriage and family therapist and career coach, I learned a great deal about narcissistic personality disorder, and how it can wreak havoc on those who are in relationships with the narcissist. (Here’s more on how to recognize NPD in your boss and what to do about it.) Several years ago, I wished to help adult children of narcissists in a more direct way, and built a Facebook group of over 2,000 adults who’d been dramatically and negatively affected by the narcissists in their lives. From their sharing, it was even more evident how destructive narcissism is in our lives and work.
From my view, we all need to understand this personality disorder more deeply, not to attack or demean narcissists, but to protect ourselves from harm, build stronger boundaries, and learn more about how to navigate effectively through the challenges of working with individuals who demonstrate these traits.