To Mentor a Narcissist, Try Being Kind

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.

*     *     *

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

To check out that HBR article and join the discussion, please click here.

Here’s a direct link to dozens of other Management Tips.

Posted in

Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: