Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.
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Working with a narcissist is hard, but mentoring one can be especially challenging. Your instinct as a mentor may be to criticize the narcissist, to put them in their place, but this typically makes a self-absorbed person defensive — prompting even more problematic behavior.
o Try some empathy instead: Recognize that narcissism is often a byproduct of insecurity, then work hard to convey affirmation and understanding.
o You might say things like, “We’re really lucky to have you here. It must be hard when others don’t seem to appreciate your contributions.”
o And position your mentee’s problematic qualities in a positive way. For example, you could frame arrogance and entitlement as unusually high self-confidence.
By demonstrating respect and acceptance, you can lower the person’s defenses, opening the door to meaningful dialogue and greater self-awareness.
Adapted from “How to Mentor a Narcissist,” by W. Brad Johnson and David G. Smith
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