6 Self-Sabotaging Things Narcissists Do

A narcissist's obnoxious behavior can hold them back from success.

Posted Jul 06, 2018

Pressmaster/Shutterstock
Source: Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Narcissists' behavior can be counterproductive to their aims and happiness. Here are some specific ways this plays out. Do you recognize any of these behavior in others, or even in yourself?

1. They disrespect other people's time.

Narcissists see their own agenda as very important. This can result in disrespecting other people's time, whether it's sending work emails after hours, excessive DMs, or chewing co-workers' ears off about their latest passions, ideas, travel experiences, or weekend achievements. They'll typically monopolize more than 50% of conversations and ignore other people's hints that they need to focus on other things.

In a time-crunched world, people tend to react badly to other people disrespecting their time. It can lead to being ostracized or gossiped about within a group, which in the end works against the narcissist, who loses co-workers' respect.

2. They burn relationships through outlandish behavior.

Narcissists are often very forceful in the way they get things done: They might get belligerent or extremely persistent with a customer service rep in order to get what they want. One problem with this is when an individual does it in front of other people who are horrified by the behavior. For example, acting this way in front of one's mother-in-law, who never forgets how embarrassing she found it.

3. They fail to see when they're crossing a moral line.

Narcissists are often so wrapped up in their own perspective, they may not realize when what they're proposing crosses other people's moral line, or that what they're saying is tone deaf. For example, the narcissist may propose some type of automation for companies that would put a group of people out of work. They only see the upside of this business, and not the human element. Or, what they see as cool, other people see as creepy and an invasion of privacy, but they don't realize it. The narcissist leader can alienate customers or employees this way.

A narcissist see rules as not applying to them or doesn't expect to experience any significant consequences of breaking them. Perhaps their apartment building doesn't allow people to rent out their apartments when they're away through Airbnb, but the narcissist does it anyway.  Eventually they may experience negative consequences of ignoring such rules, laws, or social norms.

4. They fail to listen when other people try to give them helpful feedback.

When narcissists ask for feedback, they're often really just looking for admiration. They devalue others and therefore are dismissive of feedback other people give them, even when it's potentially helpful. The person they've asked for feedback then feels disrespected and lowers their opinion of the narcissist.

5. They put their own (and others') safety at risk because of their belief in their special abilities.

I'm particularly thinking about driving here: The narcissist may boast about driving over the speed limit without recognizing when other people see this as selfish, irresponsible, and anxiety-provoking, particularly if they drive with their children or other family members.

6. They expect other people to help them, but don't return the favor.

The narcissist rarely goes out of their way to help other people, but fully expects others to help them. They see the help they receive as no big deal, even if it required substantial effort from the person who provided it. Eventually people recognize this pattern and become less willing to help, thus hurting the narcissist's ability to get ahead.

If you have a narcissistic coworker, friend or family member, understanding these patterns can help you not personalize their behavior and recognize the patterns sooner. If you see yourself engaged in these behaviors yourself, you can moderate those tendencies for the sake of better relationships, greater success and happiness, and less exposure to potential adverse consequences.

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