Corporate America in my opinion is a very toxic environment. One of the main obstacles I faced in corporate america was the narcissist. Whether it was a narcissistic coworker or worse the narcissistic boss. It seems that corporate america seems to favor these parasites which baffled me at first. However, hindsight is 20/20 not only do I understand why they thrive here I believe that Corporate America favors narcissistic behavior. When I first entered Corporate America I would always talk to my supervisors about how they moved up the ladder. I would get the generic answer of putting in your hours and going above and beyond with your job. So I did those things I was one of the top sellers, in my company. However, the longer I stayed the more I realized that this work hard, and get your just rewards fantasy was just that a fantasy. The narcissist thrives on office politics and can manipulate their way into success.
The main thing you will notice about Corporate America is that the dynamic is very much like high school. Seriously Bowling for Soup got it right. Everyone is obsessed with the coolest cliques, whose hooking up with whom, and who has the most power. As repulsive as the narcissist’s true personality is in the corporate world it is considered an asset in terms of climbing that corporate ladder. Some of the hardest working people on the floor were the people that were the most taken advantage of. They worked extra hours, made their quota and most importantly made the company a lot of money. My question was what stopped these people from getting promoted? They knew everything about the product we were selling yet they kept getting passed up for promotions. Why? Corporate America promotes people that will carry out their agenda, which is always more profit at the expense of others.
There’s no one more suitable to carry out this agenda then the narcissist. Have you ever had a coworker that can get away with anything? Never really seem to get into trouble for their bad behavior? The charm of a narcissist is unmatched in the workplace. Narcissists know how to turn on the charm and manipulate those around them by using a divide and conquer strategy. I’ve seen this in action the narcissist I notice will always treat the “in crowd” like gods. There’s always a group at work that I call the inner circle. The people that everyone knows at work and are friends with all the right people within the company. The narcissist will cozy up to these people because of the ego boost these people will give them. Narcissist see their supply as extensions of themselves so being accepted by this group is extremely important to them.
A great example of this is the character Patrick Bateman in the critical acclaimed movie, American Psycho, when he hangs out with his wall street coworkers he tries endlessly to impress. Throughout the movie he utters politically correct monologues, makes sure he follows his OCD hygiene and workout routine, and doing as much coke as he can when they go clubbing. All to fit in and get the recognition that he thinks he deserves. The narcissist will also cozy up to the boss. The narcissist has an uncanny ability to switch their personality on and off around the right people. They could be slandering their boss one minute and the next minute when the boss comes around be singing their praises. Going out of their way to make a great impression.
The narcissists also has specific targets in the workplace I will only summarize them in two terms for this post; The Inferior and The Superior (terms I made up). The Inferior target is the person that the narcissist thinks they are above on every level; looks, intellect, and status. Most of the time the narcissist will befriend this person and use them as a constant source of supply. Other times they will overtly, or covertly bully them to make them feel inferior constantly. The Superior, this is the person that the narcissist sees as a threat. They have everything that they want looks, charm, money, whatever it is the narc envies. Back to the American Psycho analogy this is the Paul Allen to the narc’s Patrick Bateman persona. The narcissist will always be more aggressive with this person. Usually trying to run a smear campaign against them. However, they are less disgusted with this person than, The Inferior. In fact similar to Patrick Bateman taking Paul Allen’s identity (after brutally murdering him). This is the reaction I see a lot of narcissists take when interacting with The Superior. They start copying them and obsessively compare themselves to them to prove their self worth. Almost as if they want to embody them and their greatness for themselves.
Are you exhausted with all these bizarre mind games? Welcome to Corporate America, a narcissist’s playground. Unfortunately all of this social, and emotional manipulation usually leads to fast promotions, connections within the company and an seemingly perfect, corporate ascension. My advice to anyone that is still in Corporate America and your miserable, get out.