It’s Narcissist Friday!     


You recently got a new job. You are excited to learn everything and try to do well. The first day is tough, but you expect that you will get training soon. The second day, the second week, the second month go by, and you still have not received training. You are trying hard, but anything you have learned you have discovered for yourself. All your boss does is yell at you for not doing things right.

How could anyone expect you to do well without training?

Narcissists are notoriously bad at training others. Parents seem to think that kids learn best by criticisms. Bosses expect employees to perform well from the start. Organizational leaders bring people on staff or into the organization without information. Spouses expect certain things without ever asking or explaining. Most narcissistic relationships are filled with frustration simply because the victim/supply doesn’t know what is expected.

Why does this happen?

Well, I would suggest two reasons, one intentional and the other not. The first is simple control. When a narcissist chooses someone to use as supply, he needs that person to be dependent. Dependent people are much easier to control. Narcissists routinely give out only enough information to get the subordinate moving, but not enough to do well. So the victim is forced to come back for more information. At the same time, the narcissist can criticize and complain about performance. These come together to make the victim feel shamed and devalued.

A young woman is excited about her opportunities in life. She feels confident and competent. When she meets the narcissist, he makes her feel good about herself and woos her into a relationship. Then, after a while, she begins to get the message that she isn’t doing things the right way. The narcissist is quick to correct and help, but that changes to criticism. The process is gradual, but steady. It isn’t long before the young woman feels like she truly cannot make good decisions or do well on projects. She needs the narcissist more and more.

The preacher tells his people Sunday after Sunday how sinful they are and how God is displeased with them. But he doesn’t tell them how to please God in any way they can actually accomplish. Nor does he point out progress or success. The church people need the pastor to help them make decisions because they have become convinced that they are unable to do well on their own. They believe that their hearts, which guide their decisions, are compromised. They have come to believe that they cannot understand the Scriptures or even pray correctly. So they depend on the pastor to tell them what they need to know. This he does, little piece by little piece.

Narcissism depends on control. Narcissists are fearful people who need to control the world around them. That means you. Giving the training or information you need to do well on your own may allow you to separate from them or surpass their achievements.

But there’s another reason narcissists are poor trainers. To teach someone, you actually have to see that person as a person. (Now, I know that might disqualify a lot of university professors, but the university culture expects students to find and learn information for themselves.) Narcissists don’t see others as persons. They are unable to empathize and, therefore, unable to help a “trainee” who needs more than just basic information.

Narcissists usually have little or no patience with others in any capacity. That’s because they only see their own need, not the struggles of others. Teachers/trainers need patience as people learn. Narcissists have little time or concern for the weaknesses or ignorance of others. They have a need, and they expect their employee/child/spouse to meet that need. Over time the narcissist has come to expect failure and incompetence in others, simply because others are unable to meet these needs. Rather than find ways to help others learn to meet these needs, the narcissists fall easily into their habit of criticism and disrespect.

Some narcissists see little value in training for subordinates. Not only will they not do the training themselves, but they will hinder the training provided by the system. The boss, for example, may not give the employee time to work through the training offered by the company. If the new employee wants training, the narcissist reasons, he will have to get it on his own time. Training time is not work time, according to the narcissist.

There’s actually one more reason. Narcissists in leadership have not usually come to their position by competence, but by politics. That means they may not know how to do the things they expect others to do. If they were ever trained, they chafed under the training and authority structure and learned little other than how to manipulate what their leaders thought about them. In other words, the narcissist was never good at his job, so he cannot teach you to be good in yours.

Unfortunately, you will probably not realize that your boss is a narcissist until you are long past the training time for your job. If you find that you are expected to do something that you have never been taught, you probably should use your own time to train yourself. But be aware that even then you may be set up to fail. The narcissistic leader may not respect any other way than his own and may resent that you were able to better yourself without his help.

If this is a different relationship, with a parent or spouse perhaps, then you still should not expect any help from your narcissist. If you want to understand what you are expected to do, teach yourself. The benefit of this will be that you have received both the training and the self-respect. You have enabled yourself without the narcissist’s help and are one small step closer to health and independence. Even if the narcissist fails to acknowledge your competence, others will.


Filed under Narcissism

15 responses to “Training

  1. dombeckblog

    Sounds like bringing home a baby not born with an instruction manual.

    • When it comes to child rearing, I have found that love is it’s own instruction manual. I’m a great grandmother now, with an adult granddaughter in nursing school and another in Harvard, so I know a littleabout parenting.

      What I have learned as a mom is that none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes as parents, sometimes really bad mistakes. But if we genuinely love our kids, if we truly appreciate their unique value, if we celebrate their existence as a great gift from God in our life, and respect their right to be a unique person, separate and different from us: having this kind of love for our children goes a very long way in making up for our human mistakes.

      • I want to add that the only way I believe it is possible to love like this, is if we have asked the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive us and cleanse us of all our sins, and to come into our heart and fill us with the fruit of his Holy Spirit so that we can live according to His will. We cannot do it by willpower alone. At least, I know I can’t!

        My adult children are all doing well in their lives today. But years ago, when I was far from the Lord, one of my children went to prison for a year. I was bitterly disappointed and angry, and I did not visit that young adult child in prison. I regret this very much, now. Without the Lord leading me and filling me with His mercy, grace, and love, I did not have the unconditional love my child needed at that time.

  2. This is exactly what happened to me on my first job as a nurse, right out of nursing school. Being held to perfectionistic standards as a child, I carried that mindset into adulthood and worked hard all through nursing school, with the result that I made perfect grades in every subject all the way through. I even scored in the top 1% in the entire nation on my license exam. So when I got my first job, I knew I wasn’t incompetent!

    Part of why I had worked so hard to achieve perfect grades was because my fellow nursing students had shocked and honored me by electing me their class president. It was the biggest validation I had ever experienced in my life up to that point, and I did not want to let them down!

    After graduation, I was so excited about my new job. But the nurse who had hired me, knowing I was fresh out of nursing school, gave me minimal training. On my third day there, as soon as I walked in the door and clocked in, she started loudly berating me for failing to do something the day before — something that she had never told me about, let alone shown me how to do. It was an administrative task peculiar to this particular facility, which was a drug and alcohol rehab unit. So the task she was berating me for not doing, wasn’t something that was covered in nursing school.

    When I told her that I was very sorry, but no one had told me or shown me how to do this particular thing, she replied that I should have looked around the nursing station to see what all was there, and have found this thing, and I should have instinctively known that it was something I needed to do, and I should have figured out how to do it. IF I really was competent as a nurse, she added hatefully.

    I felt like I was five years old, being attacked by my own malignant narcissistic mother. Shaken to the core, I immediately gathered up my things and left. I was so upset, it took me several months to work up the courage to apply for another job. And the job I finally applied for wasn’t even a nursing job! That’s how bad this hateful woman’s unwarranted verbal attack affected me!

    I really did feel, deep down inside, that she was right, that I was too incompetent for the life-saving job of being a nurse. I thought this, even though on an intellectual level I knew it wasn’t true! But unfortunately, this happened long before my PTSD was diagnosed and treated, and I was not able to deal with a narcissistic female boss. I didn’t even know what a narcissist was, then. So when that woman was wrongly berating me, in my head I heard my momster’s voice saying what she so often liked to say: “Something about you just brings out the worst in people!”

    Lies from hell. That’s all it is.

    • dombeckblog

      Imagine what that nasty woman must have been like to her patients! What a contrary profession to be in for a narcissist. Dangerous!

      • No kidding. It is said that nurses eat their young. Unfortunately, some do. I believe they are in the minority, though.

        One red flag that I did not recognize back before I knew about narcissism, was the way she acted at first like she wanted to be my instant best friend. “Oh we have this in common and we have that in common!” I have since learned that this is a typical narc move in the beginning of a relationship, whether it is a work relationship or some other kind. Narcissists often go through a honeymoon period at first, with a lot of love bombing and finding all the things you have in common. It’s what they do to lure victims into their trap. But once they have you where they want you, BAM, the abusive devaluation begins. It’s a shock when it happens!

        A small group of the women I went through nursing school with, called themselves “Sisters of No Mercy!” I thought at the time they were just being funny, but now I wonder!

        Most of the nurses I have known were truly caring, however.

    • dombeckblog

      Bwahahaha. I did not know nurses eat their young. Too funny.

  3. dombeckblog

    Narcissists are often very infantile and do train you how to accommodate them, and expect you, somewhat like an infant, to read their mind. And if you can’t, you fail. It’s a no win situation. And just like real babies, they each are uniquely different, with different needs. But unlike real babies, narcissists never emotionally mature, learn how to communicate or work with others. Even babies learn how to work with mom.

    Narcissists don’t come with instruction manuals, and no amount of love or nurturing instinct changes or matures the relationship. After 20 years I realized my relationship with my husband never really graduated beyond the status of roommate, and the lease was in his name. We were barely even friends. As time went on it got more and more passive aggressive, and hostile.

    When I hit 50 I realized life is not a dress rehearsal. You only get one chance. I couldn’t die that way, living in a hostile environment with a hateful roommate that expected me to read his mind. In many respects I could read his mind. I knew that no matter what I did or said was wrong, and that I would be met with hateful criticism. I mean I couldn’t even buy a pound of hamburger right. No joke.

    At the time I self diagnosed him with a severe oppositional disorder. I’m not even sure if the condition exists but that’s what I concluded. I wasn’t 100% sure but I figured his hostility was only towards me and it had something to do with the fact he was adopted and didn’t bond properly with his mother and therefore hated me, being a mother and all.

    I just couldn’t take being hated and punished for crimes or mistakes I had nothing to do with anymore. So I got my ACTUAL baby, who was then 18, out of the house and then I left.

    I’m not sorry I left. I’m very grateful I could get out. The dust has settled. Everyone survived. No one really hates anyone and everyone got on with their lives. But their is residual damage. I’m quite sure I suffer from PTSD. I jokingly said it one time to my two eldest children, both of whom served in Iraq. I’m finding out it’s not so much a joke, but a real condition that I probably suffer from.

    This blog helps. Talking about it, sharing it, rehashing it helps. But the part that helps the most is being listened to, and believed. ❤

    • Wow, it Is amazing that you hung in there as long as you did. It’s good that you got out!! And yes, living with daily abuse, even if it is “only” verbal, is very traumatizing. My husband and I are both now on disability for PTSD. His was caused by combat in Vietnam, mine by severe abuse in my childhood and young adulthood. My husband told me he thinks my trauma is worse than his because in war, the people trying to kill him were total strangers, not his own family.

      In your first comment, when you said it’s like bringing a baby home from the hospital without an instruction manual, I thought you were talking about a real newborn baby, which is why I responded as I did. I have heard abusive, narcissistic parents use the excuse that they did not get an instruction manual with their child. Which is no absolutely no excuse for abuse!

  4. Savedbygrace

    Very thought provoking- I agree with it but also observe that teaching roles eg teacher or minister prove to be very attractive to Ns. In many ways it can be the ‘ideal’ role for an N.

    Education is the sphere for the N I am thinking of to set himself up as the ‘expert’ , his pupils are ‘dependent’ and each school period provides a window of opportunity to turn on the charm and maintain a facade to that group of students for a short period- impression management is facilitated by the job structure. Most of the responsibilities are taken care of by others eg property, timetable, admin, maintenance, purchasing etc. There is plenty of opportunity to bask in the reflected glory of the institution or its protegees as if they are the Ns own achievements. The institution helps them be ‘in control’- there are rules, they are given power and authority and back up. A smart N will know how to ‘play the system’ and do just enough work to fly under the radar, or even produce flashes of brilliance as the rewards to their ego are great.

    This can apply to ministers too who turn on the charm and the ‘people skills’ on Sundays. In this manner teachers (and ministers) can gain a good rep, at least in the short term and by those who do not have to have closer associations with them. It is very covert and makes ‘calling them out’ hard for others to perceive or believe.

    Education is highly valued by my N- he uses it as a measure of a person’s worth. It was a point of pride to him for him to push me to get more education but as you said:

    Giving the training or information you need to do well on your own may allow you to separate from them or surpass their achievements.

    This certainly was true in my case as it allowed me to hear other voices in my life which were affirming and speaking messages that encouraged a positive view of myself and what I could do… this set up a massive cognitive dissonance in me because of the contrast with the voice that was constantly criticising me from the N ie I felt like I was going crazy! I functioned like 2 different people – competent in every other context except with the N. It took a great toll on my mental emotional and physical health. It became impossible for me to continue to live like that.

    This is why dictatorships are careful to control media and education so that they inhibit free thought and rebellion. I smile to myself that the N unwittingly aided my escape through the education he so prizes for all the wrong reasons.

    Disclaimer: I want to acknowledge my great admiration for the teaching profession and the majority of teachers who are passionate about learning, are there for the students and who work so hard and give of themselves above and beyond the call of duty! They are inspirational and do much good in the lives of children and for society.

  5. mls

    Wow. Exactly my situation. Exactly. New job. No training. Hot headed narcissist boss. Didnt interview with him so didnt figure it out until I was there a few weeks.

  6. Annette

    If you do get training yourself, the narcissist may experience you as a threat and try to sabotage you. If you don’t get the necessary training, he will berate you for being incompetent. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    Narcissists are extremely envious and competitive people and just love to sabotage others. Since they tend to be lazy, they often prefer sabotage to putting in the hard work required to succeed themselves. Withholding the necessary training can also be a form of sabotage.

    Narcissistic parents do seem to think that kids learn best by criticisms, but it might actually have more to do with them being entirely unreasonable. My narcissistic mother always shamed me for not having been born with the knowledge and skills of an adult. If you have the misfortune of being born to narcissistic parents, you are made to feel worthless and a failure if you are not able to cater to your parents’ needs from day one. Narcissistic parents would never stop to think whether small children are capable of taking care of their parents’ needs. After all, narcissists feel that they are the center of the universe and entitled to having everybody revolve around them and their every need. Should anybody fail in this task, they are mercilessly criticized.

    And since narcissists are the center of the universe, they naturally also have the right to expect everybody to read their minds without them having to bother disclosing what they need and want. Woe to you if you haven’t mastered the art of mind reading yet!

    • mls

      What does one do when they see these tendencies in parenting in a child. The effects on my grandchild are obvious. But any guidance I try to give are met with resistance and disdain that I’m not sympathizing with her. She seems to have no concept of what a child of any certain age is capable of, and she has no interest in learning. She expects her 4 year old to understand HER needs as an adult, and respond accordingly.

      • Annette

        mls, you may want to do some research on “parentification” (that is the technical term). This is a very damaging form of emotional abuse and exploitation of children.

        You could become for your grandchild what child psychologist Alice Miller called a “knowing witness”: someone who validates the needs of the child and helps him/her cope with the situation. This is very important. In my situation I had no such “knowing witness”, someone who cared enough to try to help me. Everybody just told me I was a bad kid for not being everything my mother wanted me to be. That is, I was the one who was blamed for everything. This is highly destructive, akin to soul murder, and I live with the effects of that damage to this day.

        It is a good thing that you see the problem and want to help your grandchild. If I had had such a “knowing witness”, my life might have turned out differently.

  7. dombeck

    Can we talk about cars for a minute?

    I know NOTHING about cars. But he did. I assumed that he would keep me safe in that respect. I mean mechanically. But he didn’t. I cannot even begin to recall all the times I, with my children, were stranded along side the road. I would call him. He would show up completely pissed off that I had inconvenienced him, and it was ALWAYS my fault. I’m not talking about fair weather. I’m not talking about shopping excursions. I’m talking about out and out abuse.

    It was a reoccurring pattern that extended over years. I finally learned what he was doing. I bought my own car, without his approval or opinion. I took it to mechanics on my own, through trial and error finding ones I could trust. But even that was sabotaged. He dramatically overplayed the “sounds” it made. Told me things were broken, and or about to break. I was in a complete state of fear every time I drove it. It took at least a year to feel confident. Well, I am STILL driving that car, eight years later. And it facilitated my ultimate escape.

    It was all about control. Every tear I shed, every word I uttered. Yeah, it’s just a car. But to him it was a way to make me dependent, fearful, and trapped. I used to think he enjoyed rescuing me. But he didn’t enjoy helping me. He enjoyed the control.

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