The Narcissist – Accepting the Credit – Shifting the Blame

The Narcissist – Accepting the Credit – Shifting the Blame

A high-level narcissist is a master of assigning credit, whether it’s deserved or not, and shifting blame, whether it’s justified or not. After all, according to them, they are entitled to all the credit for success, and since they are blameless, they cannot be blamed for failure. These narcissistic characteristics can best be demonstrated with some examples.

Robert was general counsel to a publicly traded corporate conglomerate. Its in-house legal staff included lawyers who handled the company’s litigation. Robert was a fantastic armchair judge. From his comfortable leather chair in his corner office with a panoramic view, he could successfully argue any case, and in these mock courtrooms he would always “win” the case. From time to time it was inevitable that one of the Assistant General Counsels assigned to the Litigation Department would approach Robert about an actual appearance in a real court. Robert would suddenly disappear, citing other pressing matters, until the court proceedings were over.

When the company was successful in litigation, Robert entertained colleagues, friends and even complete strangers sitting on the next bar stool at some prestigious watering hole, his brilliant strategy leading to a fantastic victory in a tough case. On those occasions when the judge or jury returned a verdict unfavorable to the company, Robert was quick to find fault with the plaintiff assigned to the case and point out how the outcome would have been different if only he had personally presided over the trial.

Jay runs the production department of a major television studio. The most important times of the year in the world of television are the pilot season, when the next year’s shows are chosen, and the back-to-back weeks, when the show’s ratings dictate ad revenue. Jay was never easy to live with, but during these two times of the year he was unbearable. When the chosen pilot turned out to be a success, it was because of Jay’s brilliant decision to air the show. When the ratings went down, it was somehow always the result of bad advice he got from a subordinate. Likewise, during Cleanup Weeks, the decision to have a controversial sitcom topic such as an unwanted pregnancy when it’s successful is Jay’s idea, and when it results in bad reviews and low ratings it’s someone else’s fault. Although the disingenuous behavior of both Robert and Jay appears transparent, these narcissists are often materially rewarded in the business world.

This cycle of Taking Credit – Shifting Blame speaks to the narcissist’s extreme sense of self-entitlement. When working for or living with these people, it is instructive to be aware of the narcissist’s total focus on what they want and know they deserve. The needs, merits, hard work, sacrifices and feelings of others are irrelevant. This is the narcissist’s game: he makes up the rules and cashes in all the chips.

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