Narcissistic people and Sociopaths/Psychopaths are very similar in their effects on the ASD population in that dealing with either is stressful and can damage our self-esteem and career. However they are different behaviors and that means we need to consider the narcissist slightly differently.
I would argue that it is possible to work and work well with a narcissist with fewer protections than the person with ASPD. If it helps, consider that the narcissist’s actions result from a need to prop themselves up rather than from a compulsion to harm others. As one article put it “The less validating you are, the less worth you have for the narcissist. The less exploitable you are, the less worth you have for the sociopath.” It is harder to limit ASD exploitability than it is to increase your validation of another. Therefore you can ‘play the narcissist’s game’ a lot easier by simply feeding into their need for validation. The more they value you the more they will protect you.
Still they can be dangerous so keep these things in mind:
1. A narcissist will blame others for their failures; be sure you have your bases covered.
2. Set boundaries on what work you can/will take on; a narcissist will likely delegate everything they are supposed to do.
3. Narcissists will mirror successful behavior of others; your actions can help influence them.
4. Limit your time spent with them in person to reduce stress.
5. Limit how often you talk about yourself or anyone that is not the narcissist when they are present.
6. Use a third party to maintain your grounding when dealing with them or you may lose your personality.
Moving them out of your life is also an option but not nearly as necessary as with a sociopath/psychopath. If you feed into their ego, provide results and take care of your mental state it is possible to have long and rewarding careers near narcissists. Often their self-centered attitude and ego will move them up the corporate ladder and those that support them can reap the rewards too; not just money but challenging projects as well.
Scott J. Shea is the proprietor of Job Sink, offering career advice and exploring employment issues and workplace difficulties faced by those on the autism spectrum.
[image via Available Images]