My wife is seeing a lot of narcissists at her job. Co-workers at the workplace are sometimes seeing narcissists working for their clients. When I talked about this with my younger team mates, I realised that they don’t yet see the gargantuan damage these sociopaths are doing in our workplace, on this planet, and they are singularly unprepared to deal with them, just as I was.
Here’s something I wrote a long time ago which is just as true today as it was back then.
Things to watch out for:
Keep track of these things and use these as early warning signs.
Here’s what not to expect:
Here’s what to do:
Here’s what to expect:
This is true everywhere. Keep your eyes open. Notice the warning signs:
When I see a complaint like “they can be pretty rude” and the defence by others is “I’m thinking it’s not intentional”, or “they just mean to be straight and honest”, or “they just have an abrasive online persona”, or “they’re just socially awkward”, or whatever – then all my warning lights are set off.
Remember the asshole filter? If you tolerate assholes all the decent folks start to leave, and in the end you’re surrounded by assholes. We all need to fight back because sociopaths have no other goals in life: they can pour over their plans and machinations for all their waking hours, all they want is power, the admiration of others, and to have that increase at all times, no matter the cost. They’ll ruin teams, departments, companies, schools, IRC channels, newsgroups, mailing lists. They’ll make friends with the new people, they’ll see if they can easily do you a favour that they can leverage for a long time; they’ll make you feel welcome so you can join their fan club; they’ll tear you down if you disagree with them, as an example to others... and then the silence starts to spread like a cancer, and people start making excuses. Too much traffic on the mailing list... Not enough time to join the game tonight... Nobody is willing to confront them and so their power grows. Sometimes they are promoted because they wear everybody down. They don’t feel this pain. This is the struggle they are born to win. That’s why the only way to save our community is to network.
Together, we are strong. We support each other when we’re down. We build each other up when we’re weak. And when we’re strong, we step up and take one for the team. And we kick them out.
Don’t think that you can out-manoeuvrer them with a precise code of conduct, or other legalese. They have all the time in the world and no sense of shame. They will find the loopholes, the edge cases, and use them against you. Use your heart. Make broad guidelines and rely on humans to use their heart. If they’re acting like an asshole, then they are an asshole and you should rid your life of assholes. And the only way to do that is to network.
Don’t forget that they can be charming if they want something from you. As soon as they see that they’ve overstepped their bounds, they know what to say and do. They will apologize. They feel no shame, remember? To bend with the wind is their nature. Use your stubbornness to carry you through these periods. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, remember? Watch for the pattern and wait for repeats. Do not extend the benefit of doubt again and again. Notice it when decent people leave. Every time a decent person left, you lost a potential ally.
When it has blown over, they will start to organize, to plot the downfall of moderators, of whoever stepped on their toes. They have all the time in the world and no other goals. They keep notes of everything. Read the logs I kept, they say. Remember who else keeps notes: the secret service and organised crime keeps kompromat to blackmail you. Therefore, be forgiving – once or twice. People make mistakes. But when there’s a pattern in the other direction, when there are record keepers, realize that this is a warning.
Keep each other’s back and kick them out. Good luck.
And if you can’t take it any more, disengage. There is no other way.
“characterized by persistent grandiosity, excessive need for admiration, and a personal disdain and lack of empathy for others … arrogance and a distorted sense of superiority, and they seek to establish abusive power and control over others … … typically value themselves over others to the extent that they openly disregard the feelings and wishes of others, and expect to be treated as superior, regardless of their actual status or achievements … intolerance of criticism, and a tendency to belittle others in order to validate their own superiority”