If you are a boss, coworker, contractor, friend, or neighbor of a narcissist, you might wonder what you can do to maintain a cordial, professional relationship with them. Narcissists don’t react to people the same way that ordinary people do and require a different approach. Here is how you make a narcissist respect you.
Narcissists respect the appearance of authority and power. By embodying high status in the way you act, dress, and who you associate with, you will earn a narcissist’s respect. In particular, your independence and indifference praise of others shows a narcissist your worth.
So how exactly do you accomplish this in your daily life? Read on for tips to succeed at making a narcissist respect you.
Narcissists are Hierarchical and Status Conscious
The first thing to understand about narcissists is that their entire perspective of social interactions is one of hierarchy and competition. A narcissist will always classify you as one of the following —
- Above them in the hierarchy, thus worthy of respect
- Equal, therefore a competitor to be challenged
- Below them in the hierarchy, thus forgettable or contemptible
You will never be respected by a narcissist if they see you as an equal or lesser than them.
What Makes a Narcissist Value Someone
Social status is closely related to, but not the same as, your position within a particular group or hierarchy.
For instance, if the narcissist is your boss, they are more likely to see you as an inferior. But, they can see you as above them if they respect your skills and abilities.
In the case of bosses, I find that they are much more likely to value you if you are emotionally independent — not reliant on them to feel good about your work — and hard working. More on working effectively with a narcissist boss or manager here — How to Overcome a Narcissistic Boss.
If you are naturally above a narcissist in a hierarchy, then likewise, you have a boost. But their respect is not guaranteed unless they admire your skills and social image.
Coworkers, neighbors, and other social equals can be particularly tough to win over because the narcissists feel like they are competing with you. They will continuously measure themselves against your accomplishments, both major and minor while trying to best you every turn they can. More on dealing with narcissistic coworker’s here — “How to Deal with Narcissistic Coworkers”.
What You Can Do to Raise Your Value in the Eyes of a Narcissist
Here are six specific things you can do to make a narcissist respect you.
Achieve something that the narcissist values
A narcissist has particular life goals and measurements which they feel define success. This goal could be money, power, social standing, artistic success, sexual prowess, etc.
Money, in particular, is a pervasive motivation for narcissists, which I discuss here — Narcissistic Obsession with Money: Greed and Power.
Find out what the narcissist admires and make sure they are aware of your accomplishments in this area. Publicly recognized success such as awards is particularly portent when winning over a narcissist’s perception because they covet praise and recognition themselves.
Make friends with people the narcissist respects
Narcissists are name droppers and often define success in terms of who they know and what circles they run in. Likewise, they will determine your relative success by the people that you surround yourself with.
When trying to win over a narcissist, don’t shy away from name dropping a little bit as well. While it might seem egoistic to you — and other everyday people — the narcissist will not feel that way in the slightest. Making a bit of a display of your network can go a long way to earning a narcissist’s respect in a hurry.
Demonstrate your emotional independence
Narcissists use emotional manipulation and rumors as weapons to control their social circle. And if you prove to be susceptible to these tactics, the narcissist will never respect you because they feel capable of dominating you when necessary.
The best tactic is to recognize and specifically counter the methods as they are used against you. Narcissists can be brilliant at hiding their manipulation, so seeing what they are up to can be challenging for the uninitiated. I discuss such tactics and defensive measures in the following articles —
- 9 Ways Your Narcissist Coworker is Sabotaging You
- Top 10 Tactics Used by a Narcissist Boss
- Narcissistic Insults | 10 Most Common Examples
Take care of your appearance
All narcissists judge books by their covers. While you may be appealing in other respects, if you appear to be of lower status than the narcissist, they will likely never truly respect you.
Take some time to review your appearance compared to the narcissist and see what you can do to up your game. Remember that just because you look “nice” for the workplace or situation that you share with the narcissist, all they care about is if they look better than you.
Show the narcissist respect
More than anything, narcissists crave approval, and if you can provide that support for them, they will come to admire you.
On the other hand, if you demean them, even subtly, you may find yourself with an enemy for life. Narcissists are very sensitive to insults and criticism. And will hold grudges for years without you necessarily even knowing their feelings about you.
To show a narcissist respect, you should —
- Recognize their accomplishments when you see them
- Be interested in their opinion and expertise
- Act polite; you can’t go too far in this regard
The more courteous and high mannered you act around a narcissist, the better. Think of how gentlemen and women acted towards each other, as the nobility developed these manners partially to keep egoistic narcissists at bay.
Respect yourself more than anyone else
A narcissist will never respect someone who doesn’t demonstrate respect for themselves. They do not respond favorably to self-deprecating behavior, putting other people before yourself, or “being a team player.” All of which they see as an exploitable weakness.
Even when they demand such concessions from you — which they will frequently do if they can — acquiescing only serves to cement their perspective of you as an inferior to them. No amount of kindness, selflessness, or giving on your part will endear you to a narcissist.
When dealing with a narcissist, make sure that you put yourself first and “get yours” before they get theirs. Remember that big dogs eat first. And while the narcissist may fight you for it, they will ultimately respect your strength.
Will a narcissist respect me more if I stop doing things for him?
Ultimately a narcissist will respect you more if you stop doing things for them. Narcissists only respect people they see as superior to them, and you will never fill that role in their eyes if you are too giving.
What does a narcissist respect in life?
Narcissists respect social status, power, networking, money, and the appearance of such things. They are foremost interested in the praise and validation that comes from such things, so having a big bank account is useless unless people know that they have a big bank account.