It is not uncommon for a narcissist to be promoted to positions of power. This happens because they seem very confident in their abilities, they take credit for things they didn’t do or ideas they didn’t have, and they blame other people for their mistakes. They can put you in a very awkward position whether they’re a coworker or a supervisor. But should you go to HR? Is that a good idea?
Going to HR to report abusive behavior in the workplace is your right and often your only recourse. But it isn’t likely to produce the results you want since they will retaliate. If you want the hostility to stop, HR is your best bet, but the narcissist will make your professional life difficult.
Narcissists can put on a charming face for long enough to escape consequences for mistakes or bad behavior. That makes it very difficult for coworkers, and it’s doubly difficult for any underlings. Narcissists will never give you credit, and they won’t support your advancement. Read on to learn more about how narcissists behave in the workplace and what your options are in a hostile workplace.
Should You Report a Narcissist to HR?
Narcissists can be quite difficult to work with because their personality disorder won’t allow them to admit mistakes or recognize the accomplishments of other people. In fact, they are quick to blame other people in the office for their own mistakes.
They also take credit for other people’s work or ideas. Despite this, their apparent confidence and braggadocio often get them noticed by superiors. It can have a positive effect in some work environments.
Moreover, because they are concerned about their image, they often do really work hard to ensure the job gets done. All of that means they frequently get promoted into supervisory positions. When that happens, you don’t want to be one of their underlings.
If you are, however, it’s important that you understand your options. First, document everything they tell you to do and what you did. It’s best if you can get it in some format that can be verified like email. If they give you an assignment, for example, send a follow-up email to ask for clarification. They will respond with instructions, and you’ll want to keep that email.
It’s also a good idea to always have witnesses to any interactions you have with them. Try to arrange to have someone else there who can verify what went on. Finally, when you’ve completed a project or if you have any ideas to improve the situation, send an email detailing what you did and what your ideas were.
That way you have evidence of your interactions and their responses to them. You also have evidence of your original ideas. Now for the question about HR. You have rights as a worker, and if the narcissist is creating a hostile workplace, you have every right to speak to HR about it.
How Will the Narcissist React if You Report Them to HR?
Make no mistake about it, narcissists don’t take criticism well, and they will respond fiercely to any threats to their carefully crafted image. There are a number of ways a narcissist might react when you report them to HR. Let’s explore some of these:
One of the first things they may do is to blow up at you for what they see as your impertinence. This may mean they yell at you, but in the workplace, it’s likely to be more subtle. They may, for example, assign the less appealing work to you alone or they might not give you opportunities to advance. They may also simply give you the silent treatment.
Once a narcissist sees you as the enemy, they will begin working to destroy you. This means they will do anything they can to eventually get you fired. You have the right to report them to HR, but you have to realize that once you do, you’ve made an enemy.
They Will Seek Revenge
If you report a narcissist to HR, they will begin seeking revenge as soon as they can. They will be watching to catch you making a mistake, and when you do, they will exaggerate its significance. What’s more, they may give you tasks where it’s difficult not to make a mistake just to try to trip you up.
They will be out to get you after you report them to HR, so you’ll have to be very careful. This is where documentation of every detail will help. Be meticulous in noting every interaction.
They Will Blame You for Their Mistakes
They do this anyway as a matter of course, but when you’ve become their enemy, they will focus their attention on you when they’re looking for someone to blame. They will try to make every problem or mistake your fault.
Documentation is key to preventing this, but you’ll have to be constantly vigilant. Part of the problem is that they may be talking to their superiors about their team members and their performance.
What Should You Do?
The truth is that if you’re working under a narcissistic boss, you’ll need to consider taking a different job or a different position within the same company. Narcissists can be good at their job, but they are always terrible coworkers.
Moreover, even though you have every right to report them to HR and have your complaint objectively investigated and resolved, the reality is that narcissists often get away with their bad behavior. Sometimes companies are reluctant to punish someone who seems to be good at their job.
That may realistically leave you with little choice other than to find a different job or try for a different position in the company. If you stay after reporting, you will become their target. That is unlikely to change over time.
If they are in a position of power, they will be doing their best to get even. Even if they are not in a position of power, they can still make your professional life miserable. What’s more, they may be genuinely good at their job, and if that’s the case, the company may not want to punish them too severely.
It’s an unfortunate reality, but reporting them to HR may not be the best idea. It is your right, but sometimes it may be better to simply begin looking for a new job. Their gaslighting and lying can go a long way toward getting themselves out of hot water and you into the frying pan!
Narcissists will always respond aggressively to any threats to their image that they perceive. While notoriously difficult to work with, narcissists often get the job done, and for that reason, they are commonly promoted to positions of power. Whether they are your boss or your coworker, going to HR may be the only option you have to stay with that company. They will retaliate, however, and that can make your life very difficult.
One way that narcissists manipulate coworkers is to use their emotional triggers against them. If they know your buttons, they will push them again and again. There is something you can do about that, however. I’ve come up with this 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers. This free guide will help you recognize, defuse, and heal your emotional triggers so you can stay calm even in the face of narcissistic abuse. Just click on this link, and I’ll send it directly to your inbox!
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