Conversational Narcissism - A Workplace Phenomena

Did you know that there is a term used to identify people who steer the conversation from you to themselves. It is called conversational narcissism. I don’t know about you but I face this a lot in society, community, friends and at the workplace.

Apparently the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include a grandiose sense of importance, preoccupation with unlimited success, belief that one is special and unique, exploitative of others, lack of empathy, arrogance, and jealousy of others.

So how many times have you faced this situation where you are trying to meet your boss or manager and explain your situation and suddenly the topic makes a 180 degree turn and the conversations becomes all about them.

Most of us often refer to people who think or speak a little too well of themselves and don’t have much regard for the feelings of others as either bragging, showing off or just full of ego. This kind of conversation has been studied thoroughly by psychologist. If I understand it correctly from my own reading there is a difference between someone who comes across as egoistical and someone who is just a plain conversational narcissist.

This opens an opportunity for trainers and consultants out there to review their slides and to add to the kind of behaviors leaders should be wary of an added line and that is not to be a “conversational narcissist.”

So the next time we come across someone who sees himself or herself as more important and influential than everyone else by touting his or her own accomplishments, exaggerates their importance, and elicits envy or admiration from others we will know this is not necessarily egoistical but actually having a conversation that has the narcissistic trait. That way we need not be drawn into admiring this person and wanting to orbit around him or her as a leader. 

There are many kinds of conversational narcissism traits and hopefully in time there is more awareness at the workplace among managers that can help change the way one reacts at the workplace. 

About the Author

Dr. Sudeep Mohandas is the Co-Founder/Managing Director of I First International. They provide consultancy services to the nonprofit and purpose based organisations. He has conducted work globally, is a Board member of International Nonprofits and Strategic Advisor to Social Enterprises and Universities. He has written many articles and two books on the topic of nonprofit management.