Copernicus said the earth revolves around the sun. Copernicus was only partially correct.
The earth does not always revolve around the sun. In some workplaces, the earth revolves around an employee. Yes, I can tell that each of you is thinking of a particular employee. Let’s hope no one is thinking of you!
Seriously, how do you deal with the employee who is the sun for the workplace’s earth? Let’s be clear that we need to be careful with the words that we use. The most common: narcissism.
Often, these individuals are solipsistic, not narcissistic. But it is more than a matter of vocabulary semantics. Using the word “narcissistic” is dangerous. It is a psychiatric condition (axis II).
Calling someone a narcissist may make them rich, if not narcissistic, as a result of the perceived disability claim that you have handed them. Remember, under the ADA, an individual is protected not only if he or she is disabled, but also if he or she is perceived to be disabled.
So, perhaps we need to remove the psychological labels and simply call it what it is. Some use “selfish,” “self‑centered” or “ego-centric.” But these words are problematic for different reasons.
They are problematic not because they invite ADA claims. They are problematic because they invite robust debates on who the person is as opposed to his or her behavior. “How can you call me selfish when I do so much for others…”
Let’s forget the labels altogether. Let’s focus on the behaviors. Consider the following option:
You are a valued employee. But we ask that you focus on the impact of the change on all of us, and not just you.
Sometimes, subtle does not work. So don’t be afraid to be a little more direct. Just do so respectfully. Consider the following:
I get it. But I need to consider the perceptions of others. Your viewpoint is not the only one we must consider.
If that fails, try this: You are not center of the world.
We should engage our employees. And we should do our best to consider their input. But don’t be the earth to your employee’s sun. Stop revolving around an employee who thinks that he or she is the center of the universe. It is not fair to the rest. After all, your most valuable asset is your time and you have only so much to give.
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