Doing business with toxic narcissists is very complicated and problematic. Complicating the fact is that a percentage of the wealthiest and most influential people in the world are also toxic narcissists. Therefore, your ability to work with them, to not be manipulated, and to be effective can be instrumental to your success in business.
The Nature Of Toxic Narcissists
In the world of toxic narcissists, everything is about them. All the good is because of them. All the bad is someone else’s doing, but everybody should be thankful they are there to make things right. They desperately need other people’s adulation to prove to themselves that they are worthwhile, let alone great. Their bravado and extreme self-confidence are the way they cover up their incredible insecurities and fears. Some of the characteristics of toxic narcissists include:
- A self-image of being unique, special, hyper-intelligent, attractive, and so on
- Believe other people envy them and want to hurt them
- Expecting other people to acknowledge them always and provide special treatment
What matters to other people is secondary after they acknowledge the prominence and significance of the toxic narcissist. These other people are “self-objects.” Their value is that of extensions of the toxic narcissist. Toxic narcissists easily mimic empathy and caring, not to build meaningful relationships with others but to find weaknesses that they can exploit.
Toxic narcissists are very adept at emotional manipulation. Guilt, fear and anxiety are all weapons to be wielded to get people to follow them. They can be your best friends, provided you recognize them for their prominence. However, toxic narcissists will enthusiastically turn against former friends and associates. They will toss people aside and under the bus if they stop adoring them or are no longer useful.
Their successes only reinforce their deluded view of the world and intensify their need for ever greater attention. Anything questioning their legitimacy is a lie or a conspiracy to hurt them and their followers. Those people even broaching the topic are the enemy and should be decimated.
Dealing With Toxic Narcissists In Business
For many people, it is tough to deal effectively with toxic narcissists. They can be amazingly frustrating and stressful. Even as you see through their façade, there is no way they will ever admit to their failings or weaknesses. They are never at fault because they are the victims, and there is always someone else to blame.
“To be successful in dealing with accomplished and powerful toxic narcissists requires you clearly understand their nature and realize this is their nature, and it is not going to change,” says Frank Carone, chairman of Oaktree Solutions and co-author of Everyone Wins! How You Can Enhance and Optimize Business Relationships Just Like Ultra-Wealthy Entrepreneurs, “On the one hand, you can avoid dealing with them. Once you determine a person is a toxic narcissist, you choose not to do business with them, and you stay away. Unfortunately, this is not always a viable option. The toxic narcissist maybe your boss or a business owner you cannot negotiate with.”
When you decide you have to deal with successful toxic narcissists, you have another choice to make. You can confront them, focusing on the issues and striving to help them understand different perspectives. These scenarios revolve around facts and reality instead of the toxic narcissist. The idea is to get toxic narcissists to be more sensitive, understanding, and empathetic and see things beyond themselves.
Such an approach may work, but it will be severely psychologically painful. To reiterate, they are not going to change. No matter how strong your arguments are, they will not sway them. For toxic narcissists, facts do not play a significant role in their thinking unless it highlights them. More often than not, this approach does not work nearly as well as your other option. That is, you can win by losing.
To artfully achieve your agenda when dealing with toxic narcissists, you must outthink them. Anyone that supports their corrupted view of themselves as critical and central is liked and is well-positioned to achieve their agenda.
The result is that you lose in comparison to the toxic narcissist. Ignoring the facts or circumstances, the aim is to ensure the toxic narcissist is—in their mind—the winner in any dealings. They win, not necessarily because they come away with a better deal. They win because they come away believing that everyone incredibly respects them. If you outthink them this way, you will likely achieve your agenda.
Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth magazine and chief content officer for High-Net-Worth Genius. He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs and select professionals.