Covert Narcissists: The Silent Threat in the Workplace

The colleague who brags, the boss who appropriates his team’s successes, the one who constantly brags about his professional achievements on social media: We can all recognize narcissists.
For sure; No. Not all narcissists are egoists who demand the spotlight be on them. There is a quieter, friendlier kind: the hidden ones narcissists.


They have the same basic motivation with classic narcissists: the thirst for attention and recognition. But covert narcissists pursue them in a quieter, more modest way. A covert narcissist may appear friendly, even if he ruthlessly sabotages others for their own interest.

Such a person can it is dangerous in the workplaceas his colleagues may not be able to easily perceive his dangerous behavior.
However, according to experts they distinguish some key characteristics so that we can spot them and understand how best to interact with them – if we cannot avoid it.

The “good guys” who are a threat

When we think of the traditional narcissist, we imagine someone who thinks they are the center of the world, causing discomfort and problems for those around them.
In the workplace, narcissists can be toxic.

They manipulate their colleagues to achieve their own goals, they make reckless choices without considering the opinions of others, and what concerns them is the how they will appear superior to their partners. THE their indifference to others it’s one of the reasons they can climb the hierarchy ladder so quickly.

However, covert narcissists – also called “vulnerables” – are a little different. They have the same basic need to satisfy their ego at all costs, but are more moderate in their methods. While the classic narcissists don’t care if they upset the balance in order to get the attention they seek, the vulnerable “don’t feel as comfortable being treated in this sweeping way,” says Julie L. Hull, author of The Narcissist in Your Life.

“They want to be considered ‘good guys’. To see them as approachable, funny, pleasant, generous, helping others,” Hal adds. The problem is, however, how they are retarded.

Their behavior is constant “passive-aggressive” with backhanded compliments, veiled criticism, insults disguised as humorous quips, subtle snark or gossip.

Quietly and with design they seek recognition or compliments. They may offer gifts in front of others so that there are witnesses to their generosity. They may create triangles in conversations, direct them by inviting another person to join them, turn one against the other, or instigate conflict. At work, they are nice to you and another co-worker, only to badmouth each other, so so that the covert narcissist appears as the ideal employee.

Behind this behavior is an internalized sense of shame, Hal says. To compensate for this, they try to appear superior. Actually, covert narcissists, unlike overt ones, often they have low self-esteem and insecuritiesand not an “overinflated” ego.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about vulnerable narcissists in the workplace. Most research to date has focused on the distinct narcissistic personality, says Chunky Moon, a lecturer in psychology at Beckett University in Leeds, UK. That’s what prompted Moon, along with Katarina Morais, a researcher in Education and Psychology at the Catholic University of Portugal, to examine how covert narcissism affects inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

In study published in March, it appears that covert narcissists were more likely to claim that they themselves had experienced rude behavior in the workplace than that their own behavior—the gossiping and gossiping—constituted incivility to others.

According to Moon and Morais, due to their low self-confidence – combined with a lack of understanding of workplace rules, such as fairness and respect—employees high in covert narcissism traits were more likely to report experiencing rude, disrespectful, or inappropriate behavior from others in the workplace.

The yes they play the victim in this way it is “very common, almost a given” for covert narcissists, Hull notes. “According to their narrative they are victims, thus escaping from every circumstance, escaping from all responsibility. It’s always someone’s fault other, someone wronged them».

While identifiable narcissists are aggressive, harass others, or monopolize interest, lurkers can be sympathetic and manipulate their victims for a long time, before they realize what is happening.

“Covert narcissists may they affect us in a more subcutaneous way, because we are not as prepared to deal with them, Moon says, adding that further research is needed. “Perhaps we can guard against the actions of a demonstrative narcissist because his behavior is more visible. Covert narcissism is less easily recognized and more difficult to detect,” he adds.

“Fundamentally dangerous”

What is the best way to deal with a vulnerable narcissist? To tell if someone is a covert narcissist, ask yourself this: How do they react when something good happens to you? Maybe it’s a promotion, praise from the boss, or just telling him how you’re having a good time today. “Is he happy for you? Is he really happy for you? That’s a good way to spot narcissism,” Hal says.

If you feel like he’s faking it, stop talking to him. Boundaries are important with any kind of narcissist, and since coverts manage to appear likeable or harmless, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

If you have someone in your workplace, it is important to don’t reveal anything to him that he could use to undermine you. Narcissists defend themselves by launching subtle attacks. “Don’t share personal information. They constantly collect data about others, so that they gain an advantage themselves, spot the weaknesses of others and exploit them,” Hal points out.

As for vulnerable narcissists themselves, Moon and Morais recommend developing their emotional intelligence to improve their self-esteem, the lack of which is the cause of their toxic behavior.

According to Moon, their research shows that improving self-esteem is what can help them experience less inappropriate behavior at work and may change their harmful habits. According to studies, emotional intelligence and self-esteem are correlated.

But while you wait for that to happen, be on guard. “They are constantly hiding and shielding themselves. You may feel sympathy for them because it is a sad situation. However, it is not safe to feel this way. They are competitive and fundamentally dangerous,” says Hull.

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The article is in Greek

Tags: Covert Narcissists Silent Threat Workplace

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