Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's fun to get in a narcissists face

Confront a narcissist in the workplace. Though you are being perfectly civil and uttering no threats, it will scare the socks off him. He will get so nervous his throat tightens. You will find yourself feeling sorry for the panicked look in his eyes. He will try to appease. And he will be rational. Afterwards you will walk away amazed thinking, "Wow, I must be the first person in the world to stand up to him and live to tell about it!" You'll probably be wrong, of course. Anybody can stand up to Little Big Man and live to tell about it.

Is he a neighbor letting his big mean dogs run lose to terrorize the neighborhood and threaten other people's pets, infringing on your property and then destroying it to intimidate you if you won't let him? Okay, if that's the way he reacts to your being friendly, see how he reacts to your being an enemy. Get in his face with a bigger dose of his own medicine. Turn his dirty tricks on him. Show him that you'll fight fire with fire. You'll find that, like any bully, what he needs is one punch — in the nose — to send him home crying to his mamma. It's the only language he understands. He will afterwards leave you alone and look for easy prey.

Is he a sibling or parent? Test his irascibility. The next time he treats you like dirt, blow up in his face. Treat him with utter contempt and use the most abusive language you can think of. He won't explode. Yell him down and get right down to name-calling. Call him a jackass and tell the Bogey Man that's an asshole in the middle of his face. He will shock you by meekly and docilely taking it.

He's only ferocious when he can sneak-attack.

This makes sense when you consider what is wrong with a malignant narcissist. He is a deeply wounded person, and he is just doing to vulnerable others what was done to vulnerable him when he was very young child. So young that it marred his budding self concept. And this is how he proves to himself that he is not that wretched little weakling. He can control his actions, but he cannot control his urges to trample people.

The narcissists I have known remind me of an abused dog one of my past neighbors had. That dog came up to you every time it saw you, but always from directly behind your back. Once you had convinced it that you had eyes in the back of your head, you were safe. But nobody else, except its abusive master, was.

If the narcissist is a neighbor, you often can make him leave you alone by showing him that you will play by the same rules he does. That's because a neighborhood is usually not a crucible. He can easily use his Magical Thinking Machine to unknow it happened and forget you exist. The world is full of easier prey.

The workplace and the home are crucibles though. Does he have an out? If not, when Mr. Paranoid crawls off to lick his wounds, in his secret rage he may blow a gasket and decide to get back at you by attacking in a bigger way than ever before. And the only reign on a narcissist's conduct is what he thinks he can get away with, so he is as dangerous as a furious five-year-old with a gun. This does not mean that you should keep turning the other cheek. As with terrorists, that is the worst thing to do! But it does mean that you must carefully analyze every aspect of the situation and devise a smart, goal-oriented plan, taking steps to protect yourself from anything he could possibly do.

Apparently, in the workplace the most successful strategy is for his fellow workers to just get together and compare notes. Once everybody has his number, he sees a different image of himself reflected in the mirrors around him and flees.

Kathleen Krajco