When Betsy Wuebker and I started writing The Narcissist: A User’s Guide, I started sensing a more defined pattern to the dramatic, crazy-making, and convoluted ways of narcissists. (For a list of 100 narcissistic traits go here.)
For example, narcissists crave people watching them, wanting them, and being wow’ed by them. They love to have direct, ego-strokes pump them up. If they can stick an metaphoric intravenous needle in their arm and draw their narcissistic supply from admiring underlings, grateful colleagues, or an article about them in the newspaper, they will.
If they can’t, oooh, look out.
Let’s say for example, a narcissist presents a plan to a group. But then, one person deftly finds all the holes in the plan and points them out. The rest all concur.
Since no direct, positive attention is feeding the narcissist in this situation where he expected it, he must create other attention. Stirring the pot, creating division, sabotaging others are just a few options. So is attacking the messenger, emotional plea bargaining, and illogical arguments.
Here are a few ploys narcissists use:
At least I’ve put some thought into this problem and presented a plan. How about the rest of you?
Well if Bill here hadn’t screwed up a week ago, we’d never be talking about this now.
Look, you all know how important this plan is to me. When my daddy was on his death bed and I was taking care of him every day after school, he told me, ‘Son, don’t let a few drawbacks every hold you back.’ To this day, I like to honor that man’s courage. I owe it to him to stay committed to this plan.
Whine & Weasel
I can’t believe you all would gang up on me like this! After all I’ve done for you? Last year, didn’t I go to the big boss and get us all a penny raise, didn’t I? You bet I did…
OK. OK. I see how it is. You all just want to gang up on me. I get it. You can’t come up with a better answer, so I get bashed for trying to offer solutions.
Now look here, I’ve worked my butt off developing this plan. How do you think I feel having it shot down like some mangy dog? You (pointing at someone) say it doesn’t use Twitter and social media. Who cares? My grandmother doesn’t tweet and neither does yours. You (pointing elsewhere) dismiss my numbers, but this is still in the planning stage — it’s not like it rolls out tomorrow…
I’ve always worked my butt off for this company. When I was first started here, I spent 72 hours straight working to get us over the public relations nightmare we had with the workers’ strike . I’ve always gone above and beyond. So don’t tell me this plan won’t work. We are going to make it work.
I’ve heard all of these before and once in the same conversation, with the verbal attacks coming at me like killer bees. At the time, I wasn’t armed with a countering, verbal bug zapper. Betsy and I hope our ebook, The Narcissist: A User’s Guide and articles like this one better arm you against the narcissist’s verbal onslaughts.
For more information on narcissists and articles about the ebook:
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Photo: Phil Whitehouse