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How to work with a narcissist

An “extreme” narcissist is someone who has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. In the workplace, this manifests as someone who exaggerates their achievements, takes credit for others work, needs constant adoration, is self-entitled, and uses other people to further themselves.  If you happen to work with one, or even worse, for one, it can be a waking nightmare!

So can you stop these people from making your work life miserable?  Or is quitting your only option?  The good news is that most narcissists don’t stick around in a single job for very long.  So if you can find ways to achieve a working relationship that is at least tolerable, you just need to outlast them until they leave.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail that published this morning, I offer several ideas to make your workday with a narcissist more bearable.

How to survive the ‘extreme’ narcissist and make your workday bearable

narcissist

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find this column on page B9.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/33ZdMYB

What do you think?

Well, I’d love to hear about your experiences with narcissists in your workplace.  Have you been able to develop a tolerable working relationship?  What ideas do you have to share?  Please comment below. 

As frequent readers of the blog know, I write a monthly column for The Globe and Mail, under the broad banner of “Leadership Matters”.  My most recent columns are linked below:

How to work with someone you don’t respect

When you have little professional respect for a client, a co-worker, an employee, or even your boss, it can be difficult to stay motivated and get things done.  But the unfortunate reality is that sooner or later, you will have to work with or for someone you don’t respect — people whom you may find difficult, distasteful or downright unbearable.  While it’s certainly easier to work alongside those you like, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can only do a good job if you respect your workmates. In fact, you can function effectively with (almost) anyone if you keep just a few things in mind.

It is possible!

How to work with someone you don’t respect is exactly the subject I address in my latest column in The Globe and Mail which published this morning.

How to work with almost everyone — even those you don’t respect

If you get the print version of The Globe, you would have seen it on page B9.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2B9JDKz

The reality is that sometimes you’re just going to have to work with people you don’t like and respect – it’s all part of being an adult in the world of work.  You’ve read my suggestions.  What is your advice to handle these kinds of situations with poise and equanimity?  I’d love to hear from you.  Please share by adding your Comments below.

Separating true leaders from narcissists

NarcissistLast year, I was a featured expert in a story about narcissists in the workplace, and how one can function effectively with (or despite) them, no matter whether they are your co-workers or your boss.  And certainly, if you follow American politics, there is a lot of conversation about whether a certain head of state is a prime example of a narcissist.  So it isn’t surprising that this topic continues to be front and centre in the news.  One question that often comes up in my leadership development practice is about how to separate leaders from narcissists, particularly during hiring, as the outcome of hiring one over the other can be enormous.  Ironically of course, on the surface, narcissists look suspiciously like leaders; it isn’t until later that the truth comes out.

Last week, CNN Business News put out an article titled How narcissistic CEOs put companies at risk, explaining how narcissist leaders create long-lasting negative consequences for their companies.  From a leadership perspective, a couple of points in particular caught my attention.   Continue reading

Dealing with adversity – wisdom from mom!

Dealing with adversity is a subject that I often address in my blog posts.  Two that come to mind right away are A mental approach to coping with irritants and An ageless folktale about dealing with adversity.  Here is yet another thought on this subject.

Face your adversity head-on

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When you turn and face the sun, your shadow will always be behind you …

Said my mom to me on numerous occasions during both my childhood and adulthood.  Her point was that the best way to deal with a problem was to address it directly.  The unfortunate reality is that as long as I tried to keep evading the issue at hand, either by skirting around it or by avoiding it completely, the shadows would also linger, and eventually the outcome would be sub-optimal.  As usual, my mom was right.  And it turns out that my mom’s counsel is not bad advice for leaders either.

The leadership journey is fraught with minefields – unexpected setbacks, difficult clients and co-workers, or just simply situations where the best-laid plans go awry.  When things go wrong, it can be tempting to retreat, to search out cover, and get out of the line of fire.  At first glance, this may not be a bad idea, since withdrawal allows you to re-evaluate and reassess the state of affairs.  But while pausing to reflect may be appropriate for the short-term, it is definitely not a long-term solution.  Continue reading

Dealing with narcissists at work

The July/August issue of CPA Magazine features a story about narcissists in the workplace, and how to function effectively with (or despite) them, no matter whether they are your co-workers or your boss.  Yours truly was honoured to be interviewed as an expert source.  Not just an expert source though as I come by some of this knowledge first-hand.  Back in the 1990’s, I (barely) survived an egomaniacal boss and I live to tell the tale!

narcissists and egomaniacs
Narcissism isn’t just confined to the political arena

In recent months, the popular press has been all abuzz about a certain narcissist (no name needed) in international politics.  But unfortunately, Continue reading

A mental approach to coping with irritants

PearlOysterOur work lives are filled with irritants – demanding or difficult people, unreasonable deadlines, overwhelming workloads – and it’s exactly these moments when we have to reach deep within ourselves to find ways to cope with these aggravations.  At times like these, it’s worth thinking about how a pearl is formed.

A pearl begins life as an irritant that lodges inside an oyster’s shell.  This foreign object – whether a parasite, a small grain of grit, or something else – gets caught in the oyster’s soft inner body, and to ease the irritation and frustration, the oyster begins to take defensive action.  It secretes a smooth, hard nacre around the foreign object in order to protect itself and reduce the irritation.  Continue reading

Finding the right words in awkward situations

Danielle Harder from the Canadian HR Reporter contacted me a few weeks ago about a story she was doing on difficult conversations in the workplace.  I was honored and thrilled to provide insights on how to find the words in awkward situations and tackle those prickly conversations that are sometimes necessary when dealing with employees.  Here’s the opening of the article:

As a leadership and communications expert, Merge Gupta-Sunderji thought she had heard it all. But when her Calgary-based firm asked clients about the most difficult conversations they’ve had with employees, she was admittedly surprised. Take, for example, the female manager who had to talk to a male employee about continually grabbing himself in his private area during meetings.

Read the entire article that was published in the January 31 issue. 

Do you have any additional tips?  Or any horror stories of your own?

Difficult conversations – how to make your message stick

Whether it’s addressing an employee’s tardiness, confronting a backstabbing peer, breaking bad news to the boss, or even having the dreaded “body odour” chat, these conversations are anything but easy.  In fact, if you’re like most people, you probably lose sleep for several nights just thinking about it, and the very notion of having these discussions causes you to break out in a cold sweat!  Difficult conversations are just that – difficult – yet if you want to maintain a positive and productive workplace (and your sanity), then you must find a direct and respectful way to bring up these issues so that they result in the desired outcome, and don’t deteriorate into anger, resentment or hard feelings.  This short video offers one powerful tip to make the process more successful.

If you’d like the Top Ten report I refer to in this video, either click this link: http://www.turningmanagersintoleaders.com/difficult-conversations-free-report/ or go to the URL on the screen at the end of the video.  Plus, let me know if your difficult conversation subject was on the Top Ten List, or did you have a doozy that is different?

The Ten Most Difficult Conversations to Have With Your Employees (or Co-workers)

If you’ve ever had to have a difficult conversation with an employee or a co-worker, then you should know that you are not alone.  If you’re like most people, you’ve probably lost sleep for several nights just thinking about it, and the very notion of having these discussions causes you to break out in a cold sweat!  In fact, this is such a common problem that at least once a week, I receive requests from managers and supervisors in client organizations, seeking assistance in having exactly this type of dialogue.

David Gadarian of MostMost asked me for a list of the ten topics that come up most often when it comes to “difficult conversations”.  Here then, based on an informal poll we conducted earlier this year as well as anecdotal evidence, is my top ten list.

The Ten Most Difficult Conversations to Have With Your Employees (or Co-workers)

Do you agree?

$1 online webinar – Dealing with Difficult Personalities

PRACTICALLY FREE! That’s right! One dollar! I’m not kidding!

The great folks at PDNet and CGA are sponsoring this live webinar “Dealing with Difficult Personalities” on Tuesday October 6, 2009 at 9 AM Pacific Standard Time.  CGA Webcasts are normally priced at $169, but this is a special one-time price for only $1!  YOU MUST REGISTER BY MONDAY SEPTEMBER 28. SO DON’T MISS OUT! Over 2,000 people are already registered, so don’t wait!  To register, or get more information, go to http://tiny.cc/HupEG.  Don’t thank me, thank the generous folks at PDNet!

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