If you listen to a narcissist, you’ll likely come away with the impression that they are always winning. If you call them out on something rude they say, they claim to be joking, and if they have done something wrong, they are experts at shifting the blame to someone else. They know how to tell the story and they’re not above lying to deflect attention from bad acts. But is it true? Do narcissists always win? What is the truth?
It is true that society often rewards narcissism and narcissists learn how to dodge just about any accusation of wrongdoing, so they do often win by simply getting away with their bad behavior. Still, even though they win a lot, narcissists don’t always win. Eventually, people see through them.
Narcissists seem to be everywhere these days and it can seem like they always come out on top. That’s why it’s critical to understand that they will eventually be seen for what they truly are, particularly if you have to deal with a narcissist in your life. Let’s examine the facts.
What Manipulative Tactics Do Narcissists Use to Look Good?
Narcissists will use several types of manipulative tactics to avoid blame and control the people around them. They are not above lying, gaslighting, distracting, and casting blame on even those they love in order to avoid being called out for their bad behavior or mistakes.
If you call out the bad behavior of a narcissist, one of the first tactics they will use is distraction. They typically fly into what is known as a narcissistic rage to deflect your attention from the issue at hand toward trying to calm the situation down.
If their forceful rage fails to get the job done, they will turn to the tactic known as gaslighting. This tactic is designed to make you doubt your own perceptions and feel as though you’re the crazy, overly sensitive one. They may tell you that they were just joking or that you’re too sensitive. They didn’t really mean it the way you took it.
If the gaslighting fails to deter the negative attention, they will simply lie outright and/or cast the blame for what happened onto someone else. They have no compunctions about blaming another person, and they are masters at making the case for why they are not responsible.
If they had an affair, it’s really your fault for flirting with someone several years ago. If the business deal failed because of something they said, it was your fault for distracting them at a key point in their presentation or providing them with bad information.
While the narcissist might sometimes win even when they don’t deserve to, one thing’s for sure — you will never win with a narcissist.
Narcissistic Charm and Winning
Part of the reason it can seem as though a narcissist is always winning is that they can be very charming. If they get in trouble for bad acts, they turn on the charm to assure any injured parties that it certainly wasn’t their intent.
They have also become experts through the years at charming their way out of difficult situations. They learn from those previous experiences to make people feel as though they are genuine in their remorse or explanation for what happened.
Romantic partners see this charm in the beginning of a relationship, and it’s so convincing that they often report feeling as though they’ve met their soulmate. The narcissist can be equally as charming in a business deal or in other professional or social settings where they fear being exposed or called out for bad behavior.
Because it often takes time to see through the narcissist’s charming behavior, they can gain ground in the office before anyone realizes they are not the ones really responsible for any successful outcomes. They will also take credit for the work of others and falsely blame others when things go wrong.
If they are successful at taking the credit, they can often get promotions they don’t necessarily deserve. Some narcissists, however, will truly work hard to get ahead. They thrive on the praise they receive when they do well, but the reality is that’s the only reason they are working so hard. If the praise stops or even stalls, they often stop working as hard.
Does Society Reward Narcissism?
Most narcissists are men, and many times their grandiose behavior is seen as being assertive and confident rather than pathological. If they are bragging about their abilities or accomplishments, they are seen as confident and aggressive in a good way.
In many companies, that confidence and aggression is viewed as being a real go-getter or someone who can be counted on to get the job done. That’s why they will often get promoted even though the work they did is really a compilation of the work done by colleagues.
The narcissist has no problem taking credit for work they didn’t do, and they will use subtle — and sometimes not-so-subtle — manipulation tactics to let supervisors know that they were really the ones behind the successful project.
Narcissists are also experts at putting others in a situation where it would look bad if they tried to dispute the false claims made by their narcissistic colleague. The narcissist can easily make anyone who tries to do that appear petty and small.
The female narcissist is not always rewarded for the same kind of behavior, and thus, they will frequently turn to other tactics to get ahead and win. They may use their feminine wiles or find very ‘sweet’ ways to stab their colleagues in the back to get ahead in the office.
What Happens When a Narcissist Loses?
This very scenario is playing out in public, political contexts within the United States right now. When a narcissist loses. they lie, blame, and gaslight to distract from what they and others might see as a loss.
They can’t admit to losing, and if they are forced into a situation of having to accept a loss, they often use narcissistic rage, lies, and gaslighting to deflect negative attention from them and onto someone else. They care very little for the truth; they simply want to restore the appearance they have really won.
As Todd Skyler, a lawyer who has litigated many cases involving narcissists, notes, “Narcissists put great stock in making it appear as if they never lose at anything or experience emotional pain.” They can’t face that possibility because it would mean they are not, in fact, omniscient or omnipotent.
Facing that would mean having to face the truth about themselves in their mind. They might have to look inward and face the shame and self-loathing they truly feel. What’s worse, other people might see it as well, and that would be truly devastating.
While it’s true that narcissists don’t always win, it’s also true that if you’re in the path of a narcissist who is in fear of experiencing a loss, you need to prepare yourself for the rage, lies, and gaslighting that’s headed your way. Narcissists are simply unable to accept a loss. They need to blame it on someone else and/or deflect attention away from the reality of the situation.
It’s a genuinely frustrating situation for anyone on the receiving end of a narcissist who is experiencing loss. They can expect persistent, negative treatment, and they will need to be prepared to deal with the considerable charm a narcissist has in convincing others they have been wronged.
If you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with a grieving narcissist, you must read this blog about how persistent a narcissist can truly be. It will give you some helpful insight into their thought processes.
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