Codependency and narcissism in the workplace
Posted on 19th May 2022 at 09:23
There’s a common misconception, that in order to be in a codependent relationship, you need to be romantically involved with the person who’s manipulating you. But the truth is, codependent relationships can take many different forms. Any relationship can be manipulated by narcissistic desire and caretakers who feel the need to protect them.
Even in the corporate world these relationships are everywhere. And, if the codependent personality is being guided by a nurturing leader, they can be an absolute asset to your business. But, if this person is a narcissist, it can have a detrimental impact on;
Your staff turnover
Stress levels in the workplace
And cases of burnout
But what do I mean by a narcissist?
A narcissist is someone who is completely taken up with their own feelings and needs. They often build relationships (particularly in a corporate environment) to benefit their self image and to use that person to fulfil their own needs and desires.
Think Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. What Miranda wants, Miranda gets, no matter who she has to walk over in the process. Every action she takes and relationship she builds is to progress her career.
Miranda’s behaviour has her assistants, Andy and Emily, falling over themselves for her attention and falling apart when she leaves. She strings them along with very calculated acknowledgements of their actions - a slight head nod here, an insincere “thanks” there and the reward of more work each time they complete a task for her. In return, they demonstrate some very clear codependent behaviours by;
Making excuses to justify their bosses behaviour
Subordinating their own needs to fulfil the need
Lying to protect Miranda from the consequences of her actions
Working when sick or injured
Regularly working late to just “finish off a few things” their boss has asked them to do
These behaviours are often perpetrated in the workplace by the promise “if you help me out now, I’ll help you out in the future”. They might offer to put in a good word with the management team when the next promotion comes up or offer to give them more responsibility in the workplace.
So how can you avoid relationships like this developing in your office?
If you see that someone in your workplace is being drawn into a codependent relationship like this, it’s really important to celebrate their achievements outside of that relationship. A lot of their actions will be fuelled by the breadcrumbs of recognition they receive from the person they are becoming dependent on. Finding alternative sources for this recognition will help grow their confidence in their own abilities to carry out their work without the narcissists input.
If you’re worried that you or someone in your team might be developing this kind of dependency in the workplace, please book a fully confidential call with me today. It’s completely free and will be the first step in finding your true freedom from codependent relationships.
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