Are you the office Narcissist? This article seeks to demystify an unloved aspect of the human psyche.
If working from home for 6 weeks has taught me anything it’s that I get a lot out of human connection. I realised that I analyse my own behaviour through interacting with others. They act as a mirror. Now all I see is my own face day in day out on yet another Zoom meeting.
Aside from noticing how bad my under eye circles have become, the Zoom meetings have forced me into a new way of conversing. I try to cut in to get heard over the cacophony of voices all talking and competing at once. This is extrovert torture, where’s my stage?
But I’m special!
But I have a unique view point!
But I’ve tackled this before!
Hmmm is this narcissism? Am I the office narcissist?
The answer is yes, partly.
How we interact with the term narcissism
Narcissism is flung about as an adjective to describe behaviours of people that we encounter in our every day lives. Whether it is hearing about the latest dating flop from your bestie or hearing the latest office drama from colleagues, the pop culture definition would label a narcissist as someone who is self-centered to an unhealthy degree.
Narcissism is commonly defined in the context of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) which is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Psychology Today defines NPD as someone who displays “…grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also have grandiose fantasies and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment.
At the heart of it they lack self-love
While we often view a narcissist as someone that loves themselves too much, talks about themselves a lot and is very self-obsessed. It runs a little bit deeper than that. Robert Greene is one of the most well-known proponents that believes narcissism comes from a lack of self-love that leads to insecurity and a lack of empathy for others.
Without this inner worth the narcissist will seek attention and validation from others to feed the beast.
Newsflash! We’re all narcissists!
What’s often missed in the pop culture definition and understanding of narcissism is that we all have it within us. Narcissism is a normal and healthy part of being human it’s just a matter of where you lie on the spectrum.
Take a light hearted test, go on
In 1979 the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) was developed by Raskin and Hall.
While this test is not a diagnostic tool, it can be used to see where you rate on the narcissism scale in very general terms. I got 12 out of 40 and rated most highly in exploitativeness, self-sufficiency and authority. I can see how these traits would complement being a leader in a commercial sector!
Are procurement professionals inherently narcissistic?
The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine criteria for NPD, it specifies that someone only needs to meet five of them to clinically qualify as a narcissist. Read on to see if you can relate to the telltale signs of a procurement narcissist.
Note: it is not a diagnostic tool, instead it measures normal expressions of narcissism. So, even someone who gets the highest possible score on the NPI does not necessarily have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
|9 signs of NPD||Telltale signs of procurement narcissists|
|1. Grandiose sense of self-importance||The procurement person who must talk at every meeting about themselves and won’t listen to anyone else – even if it’s information from their client that they need to hear.|
|2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love||The procurement person who won’t roll their sleeves up or get their hands dirty unless the project comes with a highly visible profile.|
|3. Belief they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions||The procurement person who corners your boss any chance they can get and deliberately cuts you out of emails and meetings involving anyone higher up the food chain.|
|4. Need for excessive admiration||The procurement person who copies the whole team in on an email reply back to a customer where the customer has just thanked them for completing a task.|
|5. Sense of entitlement||The procurement newbie who demands to be the project lead on a $10m account their first day!|
|6. Interpersonally exploitative behaviour||The procurement person who proclaims they have written the best category strategy in the history of all time but actually they made others do it for them.|
|7. Lack of empathy||The procurement person who steals air time in a team meeting to talk about how amazing they are when a colleague has just lost a large account.|
|8. Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them||The procurement person who sits in on your project meeting only to then try and take it over (when they were never invited in the first place).|
|9. Demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviours or attitudes||The procurement person who refuses to use plain english and will only communicate in unnecessary inflated industry jargon to make it known that they are better than anyone else.|
While not all procurement professionals have NPD, we all display narcissistic behaviours from time to time. I would argue that a healthy amount of narcissism is required to be successful in this industry! If narcissism is an inherent trait in everyone that can be harnessed for good, then perhaps we need to reassess the characterisation of the behaviour trait as being only bad.
Is healthy narcissism your untapped office superpower?
If you enjoyed this article then read the wildly popular article ‘Are you the office psychopath’
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