Responsibility

It’s Narcissist Friday!

 

Picture this:

You work with a narcissist.  The boss steps out of his/her office, report in hand, and says in a calm voice, “Who’s responsible for this?”

Now: What does the narcissist say?

Chances are that the narcissist will say nothing.  He will not know which way to go.  If the boss gave a clue that the work was good and there was a reward, the narcissist would claim responsibility quickly.  But, if the boss gave an equal clue that someone would be held accountable for an error or inadequate work, the narcissist wouldn’t want to claim anything except distance.  Without these clues, the narcissist wouldn’t know what to say.

Sometimes the hesitation you see in the narcissist is accounted for by this waiting to see which way the wind is blowing.  Even if he recognized the report in the boss’s hand as his own, the narcissist would want to wait to determine the boss’s perspective.

Narcissists are some of the least responsible people you will meet.  That is, they will rarely have to answer for their work.  It is a quirk of the English language that being responsible can be either positive or negative.  It means that the person responsible is the person accountable, for good or bad.  You might be responsible for a big mess or for a good deed.

For the narcissist, responsibility means either blame or credit.  The narcissist will avoid blame at great cost.  He will push it off on others, lie to the person demanding accountability, or slip away from the situation.  At the same time, he will try to take all the credit he can get.  He will take credit for the work of others if necessary.  I have heard stories of people lying to take credit for something and then asking the one who actually did the work to back them up on it.  Nice people are there to use, according to the narcissist.

There is another way the narcissist thinks of responsibility: work.  To be responsible for a project or a goal is to have to work.  But the narcissist reduces even this to credit or blame.  If the project, for example, is one that would further a career or make the boss grateful, the narcissist will begin a process of getting others to do the work and giving himself the credit.  He will, at the same time, begin a narrative of blame to deflect any inadequacy or error away from himself.  This is the real work of the narcissist.  Others will do the project.  The narcissist will handle the credit and blame.

Never expect the narcissist to embrace the blame.  If it looks like he is willing to do that, it will be because he thinks the truth is unavoidable and humility will bring in enough points to offset the blame.

Always expect the narcissist to take the credit.  If he does not, if he gives it to you, it will be to make himself look humble and to make you indebted to him.  Somehow, he will win.

But the narcissist will twist and avoid what you think of as responsibility.  Responsibility to you, and to most of us, has a sense of duty or accountability.  We say that a person willing to take credit should also be willing to take blame.  When we accept responsibility, we accept that equation.  The narcissist cannot agree.

You see, it really isn’t that big of a deal for us to fail at something.  We know that we fail.  We have limitations, and we make mistakes.  That’s part of life.  The Lord who loves us knew that when He came to call us to Himself.  That’s why, as a wise man once told me, we need a Savior.  And now our identity is secure apart from our performance.

But the image the narcissist presents to the world cannot abide accountability for failure.  Only praise and adoration can be attributed to that image.  Some say that the narcissist thinks he/she is perfect. The truth is that the narcissist cannot accept any other option.  Identity is based completely on what others think.  So credit and blame, the fruit of responsibility in the narcissist’s heart, must not be left to chance or to others.  They must be managed.

14 Comments

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14 responses to “Responsibility

  1. Cecelia K

    Several years ago, I worked remotely for a woman for a very brief time. She was a few states away. Did not get much training, although I had the skills necessary for the job, except maybe speed, but I was hoping to build that up as I did more work. Anyway, after a Very short time, she said she had to go be with her mother, who was in the hospital, but several projects were coming up due while she would be away. She asked if I would take over managing the projects (basically receiving them from the other contractors, checking their work, and sending them on), in addition to doing my own work. I told her I was not comfortable taking on that responsibility. I wouldn’t really know what I was doing, and I didn’t have any kind of experience in that sort of thing. She assured me it was easy, gave me very brief instructions, and said she was sure I could do it. I reluctantly accepted, mostly out of a sense of needing to help my fellow-man (woman).

    As the due date approached, I could tell I was not going to be able to get all the projects checked and sent in, in a timely fashion, so I called her and asked if I could skip one of the steps of the process; I’m pretty sure she said that was fine. Well, shortly after everything had been given to the client, this woman tells me that the client complained that the work was horrible, and she jumped down my throat, blaming me, and freaking out that she could possibly lose them as a client. I reminded her that she had agreed to me skipping one of the steps in the process, and she claimed that she thought I meant something else.

    I told my sister about it, and she said this woman needed to take some of the responsibility when it was Her company, and She was ultimately responsible for anything it produced. I had warned the woman that I had no experience with that kind of work, and she had barely given me any training, and yet, she still knowingly put me in charge, and then completely shifted the blame when everything went wrong.

    My exit from the company was a bit of a fiasco in itself (which I might share in another comment), but I was soooo glad to be done with her. And she started out so nice, which, as we know, is classic behavior for a narcissist. Back then, I was not aware of narcissism, but looking back, I’d bet that she is one.

    • Cecelia K

      So before I began working for this woman, I had to sign an agreement. I forget the exact terms of it, as it has been Many years since I signed it, but it was something like I would forfeit my last paycheck if I was unable to complete an assignment on time or something like that, because the work would have to be siphoned out to the other contractors. I wasn’t sure if this was standard or not, but I didn’t have much choice. Due to my situation at that time, I didn’t really have any other options for work, so I signed it.

      Fast forward to shortly after that situation I described above had subsided. I was needing to take time off to shop for a car, so I hadn’t been as available as I had been at first. Then, one day when I Was available, I don’t get an assignment until about mid-afternoon, and it was due that same night, but based on the length of the project, I knew that I would not be able to complete it that quickly; and I think she knew that, too. Normally, she would send assignments in the morning.

      So I respond with something like, “You know I can’t turn a project of that length around that fast. It would take me X hours to do that much.”

      She said, “[Cecelia,] that’s ridiculous! It has Never taken you that long.” And then she kept pressing me to say that I could not do the assignment, because she knew that if I did, then she would not be obligated to send me my last paycheck (and I think perhaps I had submitted my two-week notice, but I can’t remember for sure). I kept saying that I would be happy to do the assignment, but I knew it wouldn’t be done by that night. Finally, I just gave in and said no, I couldn’t do the assignment.

      If there are holes that cause the story to not make sense, it’s because it’s been too long for me to remember. The gist is that I think that she set up the situation to force me out before I fulfilled my two weeks or whatever, so she wouldn’t have to pay me, maybe because she was still angry about what happened before when she was taking care of her mother.

      I checked my email to see if there had ever been any other assignments of that length, and how long it had taken me to complete them, and sure enough, I was right. There had been at least one of that same length, and it had taken me the number of hours I told her I would need, when she responded that that was ridiculous. I wanted to show that to her, but I decided not to, because I realized it was not worth it. Why should I try to prove that I was right, when I didn’t Want to work for this woman any more? I shouldn’t waste the energy.

      After all that, I should have reported her to the BBB or have written a bad review about her on an appropriate website, to try and protect anyone else from getting involved with her, but I talked myself out of it, because I was afraid that she might find out it was me somehow, and that she might sue me or something.

    • Cecelia K

      Oh yeah, in the 2 or 2 1/2 months (approximately) that I worked for this woman, I had only gotten One paycheck, and it was measley. Yes, she Had told me up front that paychecks could be sporadic, because the contractors would only get paid when She got paid. I had accepted the job anyway, because, as I said before, I didn’t have much other choice, due to my situation at the time, but once I got my car, I had more freedom and more options, and after the way she treated me, I knew it was not worth working for her, when I got paid so rarely and when I did, it was a pittance, compared to the amount of hours I was putting in.

  2. Annette

    “Nice people are there to use”–exactly. Kindness equals weakness to a narcissist and invites exploitation and abuse. “Come closer so I can slap you,” as they say. In dealing with narcissists, it is highly important to keep Jesus’ warning in mind: “Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, or they will trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:6). Not only will you have wasted your treasures, but the narcissist will also thank you for your kindness by seeking to destroy you. Beware!

  3. I love your Friday offerings. This was reminded me of my Army officer training. I was taught: “You deflected the praise to your men, without them you could do nothing. You accepted all the blame, because you were in charge.” BUT, once I was a young LT in the field, the other officers did the opposite. At one staff meeting, I got chewed out by the company commander. As my platoon sergeant and I left the meeting, he asked, “Sir, did you have anything to do with that disaster?” “Nope.” “Sir, were you even there?” “Nope.” “Sir, were you and I the only ones that had nothing to do with this disaster in attendance at the meeting, including our wonderful commander?” “Probably, but Sarge, are you going anywhere with this?” “No, Sir, just wanting to get a picture of the lay of the land.”

  4. Batya Ahul

    Hi Cecilia 😎 I bet if It were in reverse & there was a good outcome she would’ve taken complete credit for the work too. I could’ve written your post above in so many different ways so many different times. Took me to my 40th birthday to understand narcissism/narcissistic families and their impact. I continue to try and learn all I can about it-and try and protect my self and my family from the negative consequences of it.

    I’m so glad you’re not in this persons employment any more- blame shifting such a damaging trait in society these days.

    I have to thank Pastor Dave and all those who answered my call to prayer recently regarding my impending annual workplace appraisal. This was due to be carried out on my narcissistic boss and I was terrified she was going to use it as a weapon against me. By His grace the appraisal was absolutely fine and she was even almost complimentary. Of course I continue to be wary of her and also continue to pray for her salvation so she might know the light and love of Christ our saviour.

    I truly believe narcissism is a tool of the enemy and that people that display narcissistic behaviour are vessels under satan’s power.
    God is in charge & will only allow us to go through what we can bare.

    I believe satan now trying to attack me through harming my 6 year old son (wait for it there is a tenuous link to the “responsibility” theme here:)

    My son is a highly sensitive boy (i’m a highly sensitive person) and extremely tall for his age, he looks like 8 or 9 rather than 6.
    Obviously children can be fickle and pick on the odd one out. He has experienced some bullying by individuals since he started primary school. Unfortunately this ramped up recently when there were two episodes of bullying running concurrently by large groups of pupils (some older some younger )This involved belittling & name-calling . On one occasion he was chased and ended up falling graze on his knee quite badly-this wasn’t witnessed by a teacher. When he told teachers they just told him to go play somewhere else. This all came to ahead when evening when he told me in tears what had been going on.

    As I had been in contact with his teacher about all the other episodes of bullying I thought this was now time to have a meeting with the head teacher. I did not really feel I got manywhere in this meeting even though I was trying to offer solutions such as using restorative justice in lessons ( i’m a school nurse but I deal with adolescent pupils which is a completely different kettle of fish). The headteacher almost wouldn’t acknowledge that the bullying was even occurring. My son was even called names when he was waiting for me during the meeting.

    I followed this up with an email to both the headteacher and the executive head teacher. This outlined the recent events of bullying, I summarised the schools legal obligations to our son as laid out by the Department of education in the UK. I again refer to the suggestion of using restorative justice in the classroom to try and build mirror neurons and develop empathy in the pupils to help prevent this behaviour in a more effective way. I also mentioned that we had found a place at another school for the next academic year but my son showed his resilience and saying that at this time he wants to stay at this school ( I moved schools in my second year at primary school because my fathers job moved, I absolutely never settled so this would be a last resort).

    I was called into a meeting with both the head and the executive headteacher. Unfortunately my husband couldn’t come with me on this occasion (he had been at the first meeting), stupidly I did not asked to record the meeting. This meeting did not last long the executive headteacher was hostile and almost blamed my son for being bullied. The impression they gave was that they care more about the reputation of the school( it is a good school in other aspects) than the welfare of my son.
    I felt bullied.
    I’ve heard from another parent that this executive headteacher is almost against Christianity-I can’t put my finger on it but it feels even worse than that.

    This was just before the end of term and things improved dramatically from my son-he has a very kind teaching assistant who was asking him every time he came and if there been any episodes of bullying there were a few by the end of the week zero- This was almost certainly because I was praying over him every day before he went to school.

    What happened next was completely ridiculous. When discussing who was the main protagonist of the bullying I gave the Head teacher one name both verbally and by email. The child was the year above my son and although there were many others involved Felix (my son) absolutely categorically said this pupil was behind it all.

    At the end of year award ceremony the child behind the bullying (Who we had complained about less than a week before) was awarded the “Kindness and courtesy”award by the school!
    I don’t know but I’m fairly sure it’s a headteacher who makes these decisions for these awards.

    We had had no outcome of any investigations into the bullying and this was just another kick in the teeth.

    This is reinforcing bad behaviour why telling children “this child has been bullying a younger child & encouraging you to do so too, but it’s OK because we’re going to say he’s kind- & we’re even going to give him an award for it too!”

    Are they trying to say my son is a liar?

    I had a long discussion with the child legal charity this morning and crazily they have said this isn’t and is not uncommon experience in the UK school system. When someone is articulate and points out the schools legal responsibilities relating to bullying schools with apoor management structure often deny responsibility and become hostile towards the parents. They advised any meetings should be witnessed and recorded with consent from all parties.

    I’m about to write a formal complaint to the Board of Governors regarding this-specifically about the boy receiving the kindness award.

    I know this is the work of the evil one, it is so much harder that it is harming my child.

    Please pray for light of Christ or shine on this situation and that no harm will come to my son or this family because of it.

    No weapon formed against us shall prosper.

    With great difficulty I will pray for the head teacher, executive headteacher and for the bullies as well. Thankfully we are now on Summer break and Felix won’t have to return to school until the 3rd of September this year.

    May God shine his light upon you all

    And thank you Pastor Dave for my weekly dose of sanity in your wonderful blog.😎

    • Batya Ahul

      Hi Dave et al😀, Can I please ask for your prayers for my son Felix as it’s his first day back at school after the summer break today? He seems okay-I covered in the blood of Christ and quietly recited scripture over him on our walk to school.

      We’re about to send our complaint regarding what I described in the above post by recorded delivery to the chair of the board of governors of the school.

      . This has felt like torture as it has triggered unpleasant memories of me being bullied as a child both at school and at home.
      We decided to hold off on submitting the complaint until school term started (today), as we didn’t want to disturb school staff during the holiday and we didn’t think it would help our son’s situation either.

      Please pray Christ’s light on the situation and that it resolves in His way.

      Thank you again for all you do Pastor Dave and also thanks for giving me a safe space to “talk”😎

      • Batya Ahul

        Praise God, our son has had a wonderful 1st week back at school😎We haven’t had a response to our complaint to the Board of Trustees yet but I trust it is in His hands.
        Thank you for your prayers

  5. The One

    True story…whenever I used to call my ex narc boyfriend out on his behavior, or some inconsistency, he would stare straight ahead and freeze up as if he’d been caught red-handed or as if he were trying to hide behind a tree in plain sight! It was the funniest thing 😂!!! Finally after awhile, I would say, “uh oh, there he goes…running to hide behind that tree again”!!! And he never, ever would still confess to any flaw or shortcomings on his part. It must tough being a narc…smh

  6. Angelina J Drurey

    If need be they will do a song and dance routine fishing for information before answering. My husband is the King of Talk. He can rattle on forever about everything around what was asked but never answer the question. A hijacker of conversation and if you get caught up in it and say the wrong thing Bammo! It’s now on you and you’re in the hot seat defending something irrelevant because, you know, it’s all about your inadequacies anyway, not theirs.
    I’ve been married 23 years, it took me 15 years to figure out that it wasn’t me and there was a name for what he was doing although, I just called it bullying at first Then I spent the next 4 searching for answers (I thought I could help him) and then I hit a brick wall and I stopped caring. I didn’t care what he said about me, I didn’t care what names he called me I stopped needing him to complete me. The dream of 2 becoming 1 died, I realized that happy marriage where there is trust and confidence and friendship and solidarity where I could share my deepest thoughts and receive compassion when needed. it wasn’t ever going to happen so I stopped trying. I am a lot better off now, I didn’t realize how much freedom there would be in that decision. So I’ve spent the last 4 years biding my time as we have a now 17 yo son together. I knew without a doubt that if I had left earlier my son would be at the mercy of his father, alone at times and he would have destroyed my sweet boy by trying to turn him against me. I know this because his father does it now, he tries to get him to take his side in arguments and I am forever trying to keep my son out of our ‘conversations’. It’s not right to do that to a child. So I could imagine the damage that could have been wrought if we split and had joint custody (and there wouldn’t have been any reason for him not to have custody). So for now, I’m in waiting, taking one day at a time until the day I know my son will understand and be okay.

  7. Patty

    This is so true. I never understood why he refused to take responsibility for ANYTHING negative. What’s the big deal? We all mess up, right? No, not him. Not ever. He never once admitted to messing up. It was always someone else’s fault. Sad, but true.

  8. 🙂 This was a painful post to read this morning. I’m feeling weepy as I have been abandoned by those I nurtured and was faithful too. ‘He’ gets to spend all the time he wants with the adult children and grandchildren … they don’t even miss me as they enjoy themselves in activities that I was always a part of. It really, really hurts. ‘He’ and them have all sinned against God in their relationship to me and take no responsibility.
    What has made it worse is the number of ‘c’hristians who make excuses for their behaviour and feel I haven’t forgiven. I HAVE FOGIVEN. I just can’t trust them. 😦
    “Dear Lord, forgive my weakness today. I thought I was getting stronger.”

    • Hope

      Dear sister, I am sorry for how your heart is hurt. May our loving Father draw the hearts of your children back to their mama. One of my frequent prayers is that He will restore the years that the locust has eaten.

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