Ask a Narcissist

Confidence is correlated with career effectiveness and advancement.
However when people exhibit too much of a good thing, their behavior may seem “narcissistic.”

Jean Twenge

Jean Twenge

The narcissistic personality is characterized by:

Calvin S Hall

Calvin S Hall

One of the most frequently-used, well-validated assessment instruments to identify narcissism is the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, developed by University of California Berkeley’s Robert Raskin and Calvin S. Hall, and used by researchers rather than by pre-employment screeners.

Sara Konrath

Sara Konrath

Raskin and UC Berkeley colleague, Howard Terry examined responses from more than 1000 volunteers and found seven constructs related to narcissism:

  • Authority,
  • Exhibitionism,
  • Superiority,
  • Vanity,
  • Exploitativeness,
  • Entitlement,
  • Self-Sufficiency.
Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary

In addition, Raskin and Terry related these ratings of “self” and “ideal self” to participants’ responses on the Leary Interpersonal Check List, developed by Harvard’s Timothy Leary before he investigated psychedelic drugs.

Brian P Meier

Brian P Meier

An alternative to Leary’s valid and reliable, yet lengthy and time-consuming NPI, University of Michigan’s Sara Konrath, Brian P. Meier of Gettysburg College, and Ohio State’s Brad J. Bushman of Indiana University developed The Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) to measure grandiosity, entitlement, and low empathy characteristic of “narcissistic” behavior.

They asked more than 2,200 participants to rate their answer to a single question on a scale of one to seven: To what extent do you agree with this statement? “I am a narcissist.”

Brad J Bushman

Brad J Bushman

Konrath’s team demonstrated SINS that is a valid and reliable alternative to longer narcissism scales because it is significantly correlated with scores on the NPI, and uncorrelated with social desirability, or lack of concern about what others think of them.

Erika Carlson

Erika Carlson

In addition, people who score high on the NPI and SINS are willing to admit that they act more arrogant, condescending, argumentative, critical, and prone to brag than people who score low on the NPI, according to findings by University of Toronto’s Erika Carlson.

Eleven validation studies of  the SINS conducted by Konrath’s team found narcissism related to:

People who scored high for narcissism also showed behaviors that can be problematic at work:

However, people who scored high for narcissism displayed positive attributes including:

If you think you’re working with a narcissist, you can confirm or disconfirm your inference by asking the person the single question: To what extent do you agree with this statement? “I am a narcissist.”
Interacting with a narcissist in the workplace can be challenging, and a previous blog post identifies recommended strategies.

-*How do you identify narcissists in the workplace and in personal life?
-*What are more effective ways to work with them?

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2 thoughts on “Ask a Narcissist

  1. kathrynwelds Post author

    Jill Davis, President and Owner, Paces Inc. Executive Coaching and Strategic Planning, wrote:

    Great and useful information, tools, and perspectives. Thank you for sharing. These narcissistic folks can be difficult to impossible to coach and to manage. So, it is a relief to have some research and assessments to support understanding and validate one’s intuition.

    ———-
    Kathryn Welds responded:

    Thanks so much for your comment, Jill.
    Clinical studies reinforce your observation of the challenges in coaching and managing people with these characteristics because it’s easy to become the target of their ire, with few straightforward ways to repair the relationship or provide “consumable” perspectives and potential insights.
    Yet, they have many characteristics that enable success and effectiveness — to a point.
    The Center for Creative Leadership’s numerous studies on Executive Derailment summarize how these individuals may reach “the end of the line” in organizational settings.

    Reply
  2. kathrynwelds Post author

    Mohammad Khairul Alam, Programme Officer at RMG Center of Excellence, ILO-Dhaka wrote:

    This pointers are incredible to me.I have gone over quickly to Kathryn Welds points.

    Looking back, to a few individuals I worked with, all the majors points of a NARCISSIST’s behavoiur tallied what has been stated. I met two different versions of personality. One totally an extroverted slave runner, who did not care for his team members at all. But he was very surreptitiously amiable to others in other departments who are needed to achieve his ends. The other one is all so sweet on the surface, but beneath he was all of the personality what has been pointed in the above link.I have never seen such a camouflaged person who shows all superiority and exhibitionism, exploitative and no empathy to others with no commitment to his relationship partners.

    I regret I did not know how to handle this kinds! Trying to cope invoked inner anger and stress in me.Any suggestions how to cope and handle such personality? Rgds and best wishes to all reading this post from me with greetings from Bangladesh
    —————————————————————————

    Kathryn Welds wrote:

    Thank you Kahirul, for your comment.

    People with seemingly “narcissistic” personality traits have a number of positive characteristics that enable them to achieve leadership roles, and Simon Crompton distinguished between “Productive Narcissists” and their less productive counterparts.
    http://www.amazon.com/All-About-Me-Loving-Narcissist/dp/0007247958

    Likewise, Michael Maccoby analyzed Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails, and offered suggestions to navigate professional interactions.
    http://www.amazon.com/Narcissistic-Leaders-Who-Succeeds-Fails/dp/1422104141

    D.L Paulhus’s experimental study found that “self-enhancers,” characterized by narcissism and self-deception, initially made positive impressions on others, but over brief time periods, their interpersonal relationships deterioriated as people experienced their interaction styles.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9599439

    Roy Lubit also offered suggestions to deal with narcissistic leaders in his article, The long-term organizational impact of destructively narcissistic managers. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4165819?uid=3739560&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21104206319221

    Advice includes:
    * extreme caution and anticipate opportunities for unintended perceived slights

    * polite, professional, pleasant yet distant, and avoiding personal relationships

    * alternate employment if current role reports to such individuals

    -Recognizing that most people have similar challenges in dealing with these individuals

    Reply

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