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Dealing With a Narcissist
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Jawbone54
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Oct 15, 2010, 10:46 AM
 
In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following symptoms:
  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  • Rarely acknowledges mistakes and/or imperfections
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling or unable to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitude.
Do any of you have any consistent dealings with someone who meets that criteria? What is the treatment for a narcissist? How do you communicate the need for change?

I have someone in my life that I'm around very often, and I'm curious as to whether or not it's a lost cost. This is a serious issue, and I'm just curious to know if anyone with experience in a similar situation could share any nuggets of wisdom.
     
bstone
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Oct 15, 2010, 10:54 AM
 
Other than CBT, I am unaware of any treatments for NPD. It's on Axis 2, personality disorders, and must be taken seriously. Generally, there is little to do other than recognize that the person who has NPD and to deal with them accordingly.

A friend who is a practicing therapist recently sent a patient of hers with NPD to a psychiatrist to see if there are any medications that could help. The psych sent him back with a note saying, "There are no medications to help someone with NPD." She is having a really tough time treating him.
     
Jawbone54  (op)
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Oct 15, 2010, 11:07 AM
 
That is definitely discouraging, though I still appreciate the response and honesty.
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 15, 2010, 11:09 AM
 
There's a political/derailing comment to made about those descriptors, but I won't make it out of respect for your thread. (Maybe later when its deadish)
     
Jawbone54  (op)
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Oct 15, 2010, 11:16 AM
 
You can go ahead. It won't bother me.

There's a chance the thread will live out its life in dead-ishness.
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 15, 2010, 11:19 AM
 
Nah, I'll wait til the end of the day.
     
Laminar
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Oct 15, 2010, 11:21 AM
 
In b4 Rob.
No but seriously, which of those doesn't fit him?
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 15, 2010, 11:31 AM
 
The descriptions sound like some former bosses I've known, and a lot of doctors.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Oct 15, 2010, 11:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
In b4 Rob.
No but seriously, which of those doesn't fit him?
I thought that was obvious.

I considered a quip about "just keep banning him until he goes into therapy" but figured it was inappropriate given the serious intent of the OP.
     
mattyb
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Oct 15, 2010, 01:01 PM
 
Before categorising everything as a disease, and before being PC was the law, people with traits like the above were sorted out with a swift broken nose.

Is there a possibility that you could refuse to deal (in any way) with this person?
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 15, 2010, 01:02 PM
 
I don't think you can avoid Jesus.
     
Doofy
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Oct 15, 2010, 01:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
Do any of you have any consistent dealings with someone who meets that criteria? What is the treatment for a narcissist? How do you communicate the need for change?

I have someone in my life that I'm around very often, and I'm curious as to whether or not it's a lost cost. This is a serious issue, and I'm just curious to know if anyone with experience in a similar situation could share any nuggets of wisdom.
That list up there... ...that's what we used to call "personality" before TPTB decided that we should all be good, manageable, tax-paying drones.

Go British on his ass and regularly call him things like "filthy hippie" and "dirty prole", while laughing. Or live with it. Your choice.
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Jawbone54  (op)
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Oct 15, 2010, 01:20 PM
 
Dakar, I swear I knew it was coming.

Also, I don't think nose-punching is appropriate in this situation, not least of all because it's not a he. It's not someone I can just ignore either. It's a very close friend that I also work alongside. She can either make everyone around her either happy and carefree or on pins and needles trying to avoid her wrath.

She criticizes people for the exact same things she does to others, but has never recognized the irony. She is incredibly intolerant of criticism, but offers her criticism of others publicly, and they'd better like it. She expects special treatment, even when it would be incredibly inappropriate. She clashes with every female she works with, usually claiming that they're jealous of her.

This makes her sound terrible, but she's actually an incredible woman when these issues dissipate. She's actually more talented than anyone we have on staff, and everyone brags on her, but she still claims she's unappreciated. She is actually justified in most of her complaints with others, but it's the failing to see it in herself that becomes the problem.

Everyone actually loves her 95% of the time, but that 5% is enough to make everyone a little scared to address the issue...

Until last night, when I told her she needed to recognize some things in herself, and it kind of shook things up. It was after a meeting, and it's caused a little bit of a ruckus around here.
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 15, 2010, 01:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
Dakar, I swear I knew it was coming.
It was something about his wording.
     
Doofy
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Oct 15, 2010, 01:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
Also, I don't think nose-punching is appropriate in this situation, not least of all because it's not a he. It's not someone I can just ignore either. It's a very close friend that I also work alongside. She can either make everyone around her either happy and carefree or on pins and needles trying to avoid her wrath.

She criticizes people for the exact same things she does to others, but has never recognized the irony. She is incredibly intolerant of criticism, but offers her criticism of others publicly, and they'd better like it. She expects special treatment, even when it would be incredibly inappropriate. She clashes with every female she works with, usually claiming that they're jealous of her.

This makes her sound terrible, but she's actually an incredible woman when these issues dissipate. She's actually more talented than anyone we have on staff, and everyone brags on her, but she still claims she's unappreciated. She is actually justified in most of her complaints with others, but it's the failing to see it in herself that becomes the problem.

Everyone actually loves her 95% of the time, but that 5% is enough to make everyone a little scared to address the issue...

Until last night, when I told her she needed to recognize some things in herself, and it kind of shook things up. It was after a meeting, and it's caused a little bit of a ruckus around here.
Dude, this is how 95%* of women are in the workplace. Everywhere.
Don't worry about it.

(* I made that figure up.)
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bstone
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Oct 15, 2010, 01:40 PM
 
I suggest minimizing contact with this person to the absolute that is necessary. Other than that, good luck.
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 15, 2010, 01:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
Until last night, when I told her she needed to recognize some things in herself, and it kind of shook things up. It was after a meeting, and it's caused a little bit of a ruckus around here.
Seems to me you should wait until things settle down before you decide on which direction you should head.
     
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Oct 15, 2010, 02:11 PM
 
Why do you feel compelled to act on this in the first place? I say concentrate the energy on other things.
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 15, 2010, 02:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
Why do you feel compelled to act on this in the first place? I say concentrate the energy on other things.
It sounds like it was disruptive of the whole group.
     
tightsocks
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Oct 15, 2010, 02:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by bstone View Post
She is having a really tough time treating him.
Makes sense.
Can't treat something that is not a disease.
     
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Oct 15, 2010, 04:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
Do any of you have any consistent dealings with someone who meets that criteria?
Those are the primary values and traits taught to everyone in Gen Y and below in Western Society and a giant chunk of Babyboomers

Barack Obama: Four more years of the Carter Presidency
     
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Oct 15, 2010, 10:13 PM
 
Lots of info out there for dealing with high-conflict people (HCP). They're B cluster of DSM-IV (Narcissistic, Histrionic, Antisocial, etc.). Narcissists have a fear of being inferior.

For narcissists I believe the recommended route is to resist insulting them - even though you might be tempted to do so because of their annoying arrogance/insensitivity. Reassure them that they're important, praise them for positive work/skills/actions, but don't give them "special treatment - emphasize that they have to follow the rules and/or policies.

greg
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ShortcutToMoncton
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Oct 15, 2010, 10:16 PM
 
To add to that, if she does have a narcissistic personality disorder, telling her to "recognize some things in herself" was probably a useless and potentially conflict-creating gesture. A core problem of persons with PDs is that they lack awareness of why they are the way they are, how they contribute to their problem, and how to change - essentially, they don't really gain too much insight from "negative feedback."

greg
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Salty
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Oct 16, 2010, 02:11 AM
 
You're in a Church environment right? Just guilt her with Bible passages!

Seriously though, in the end she's probably never going to take responsibility for her own crap... to be honest that makes her human. My sister could actually fall into this category. Brilliant lawyer, but she's currently having trouble setting up an AppleTV and is about ready to kill me over it.

I never found a good way to deal with my sister, mostly I avoid her until the occasional family event. Best I could recommend would be, try and spend some brief quality times with her for "no reason." If she has your attention not because she's asked for it, she'll adore that fact. She'll have a chance to voice her concerns which you don't really need to heed. Don't try and fix her, you can't. You might think to ask her for advice on some selfless acts that could be done for people. Make it clear it's not something you're going to do, perhaps say you've been wondering what your life would look like if you were more selfless. She might start pondering how you could become a better person, which is risky but you might at least get her thinking of things.

Odds are in her own way she perceives herself as selfless though. She's probably completely unaware that she has unreal expectations of others, because she thinks it's entirely fair that someone would ask these things of her, even if she'd say no.
     
Phileas
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Oct 16, 2010, 07:14 AM
 
If she is indeed brilliant then my advice would be to suck it up and manage her in a way that allows her to be as brilliant as possible. People with talent are never easy to deal with, nor should they be.

If the pain of working with her outweighs the benefits she brings to the table get rid of her - but be prepared to end up in Averageville.
     
Jawbone54  (op)
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Oct 16, 2010, 02:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by bstone View Post
I suggest minimizing contact with this person to the absolute that is necessary. Other than that, good luck.
Unfortunately, that's not really an option. That would usually be my M.O.

Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
Why do you feel compelled to act on this in the first place? I say concentrate the energy on other things.
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
It sounds like it was disruptive of the whole group.
What Dakar said, but also because it's damaging her marriage to the extent that her easy-going husband has confided in some of us that he's at his breaking point, and doesn't know what else to do. His health has gone downhill ever since they've been married. He loves her, but she's becoming too much for anyone to handle.

Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
Those are the primary values and traits taught to everyone in Gen Y and below in Western Society and a giant chunk of Babyboomers
There's some truth to that. They've always existed, but they're just more plentiful.

Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Lots of info out there for dealing with high-conflict people (HCP). They're B cluster of DSM-IV (Narcissistic, Histrionic, Antisocial, etc.). Narcissists have a fear of being inferior.

For narcissists I believe the recommended route is to resist insulting them - even though you might be tempted to do so because of their annoying arrogance/insensitivity. Reassure them that they're important, praise them for positive work/skills/actions, but don't give them "special treatment - emphasize that they have to follow the rules and/or policies.
She is praised and compliment constantly, but seems to ignore it and claims that no one appreciates her when conflict arises.

Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
To add to that, if she does have a narcissistic personality disorder, telling her to "recognize some things in herself" was probably a useless and potentially conflict-creating gesture. A core problem of persons with PDs is that they lack awareness of why they are the way they are, how they contribute to their problem, and how to change - essentially, they don't really gain too much insight from "negative feedback."
I realized it was useless and potentially conflict-creating very quickly.

After that comment, she asked me what I meant, and I told her she was criticizing others for something that she is guilty of on almost a daily basis, so that's why she wasn't getting much sympathy from the rest of us.

Originally Posted by Salty View Post
You're in a Church environment right? Just guilt her with Bible passages!

Seriously though, in the end she's probably never going to take responsibility for her own crap... to be honest that makes her human. My sister could actually fall into this category. Brilliant lawyer, but she's currently having trouble setting up an AppleTV and is about ready to kill me over it.

I never found a good way to deal with my sister, mostly I avoid her until the occasional family event. Best I could recommend would be, try and spend some brief quality times with her for "no reason." If she has your attention not because she's asked for it, she'll adore that fact. She'll have a chance to voice her concerns which you don't really need to heed. Don't try and fix her, you can't. You might think to ask her for advice on some selfless acts that could be done for people. Make it clear it's not something you're going to do, perhaps say you've been wondering what your life would look like if you were more selfless. She might start pondering how you could become a better person, which is risky but you might at least get her thinking of things.

Odds are in her own way she perceives herself as selfless though. She's probably completely unaware that she has unreal expectations of others, because she thinks it's entirely fair that someone would ask these things of her, even if she'd say no.
Again, she gets all of that quite often.

Originally Posted by Phileas View Post
If she is indeed brilliant then my advice would be to suck it up and manage her in a way that allows her to be as brilliant as possible. People with talent are never easy to deal with, nor should they be.
As Salty pointed out, I work in a church environment. Movie directors deal with personalities like Russell Crowe because of his talent, and it's worth it the headache. That problem is part of the industry.

In a church, you don't have that option. She is putting every relationship around her on edge, so she can't be leading others in ministry unless something changes.

If the pain of working with her outweighs the benefits she brings to the table get rid of her - but be prepared to end up in Averageville.
I'm not really worried about being average. She's very talented, and she would be missed, but we're a pretty large church with a good pool of talent to draw from. It's her future and the people around her that I'm worried about. The problem is that she's one of the most amazing people I've ever been around, but she has this one glaring issue that could end up ruining her.

Additionally, I feel kind of ridiculous talking about this on an Internet forum. I usually try to steer away from the serious, personal stuff.
     
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Oct 16, 2010, 03:18 PM
 
Jawbone, there's often a hard-to-judge line between narcissism and histrionic personalities. The real difference between the two is a matter of quality. Is the person grandiose, or is she primarily attention seeking? It should be noted that Doofy was right (but not just about women)-a lot of people work hard at building up their appearance at work, and often "tooting one's own horn" to make sure accomplishments aren't overlooked can come across as narcissism or attention seeking.

But here's the real issue: aside from being socially inept, do this person's behaviors impair her ability to function (ignoring the fact that she makes at least some people want to punch her in the nose)? If she manages to get work done, come in clean and dressed every day, manage her salary well enough to keep a roof over her head and food in the fridge, then she's not exhibiting traits of a personality disorder. Instead, she's being a PITA.

I'd start finding reasons to be involved with projects she isn't. I'd start having social schedule conflicts that keep you from getting together with her and her group. Just a few weeks of doing something away from her will tell you something very important: whether she's just overwhelmed you with her poor people skills, or that she is, in fact, insufferable.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Oct 16, 2010, 06:01 PM
 
To me it simply sounds like there's nobody man enough to handle her. Not her husband, not her workmates. Do they still let you have penises over there in the colonies, or has society clipped you all?

I really can't see how she can "put every relationship around her on edge" unless the other parties in said relationships are letting her.
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Oct 16, 2010, 06:32 PM
 
Yeah totally, you've hit the nail on the head: this chick just needs a good lay

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Oct 16, 2010, 07:17 PM
 
I'm with the Doof on this. If she really is this upsetting then somebody should read her the riot act. If that doesn't make a difference then fire her. You don't need to put up with this kind of shit.
     
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Oct 16, 2010, 08:33 PM
 
I won't say I fully agree with Doofy, but I also think that nobody's ever challenged her over her bad social skills. He's spot on with his last sentence; nobody makes you feel anything if you don't let them.

Now the crux of the matter is who is most affected by her poor behavior? Significant other? Boss? Subordinate? She is disruptive to whatever situation she's in, right? She needs to know that, and that her disruptions aren't appreciated.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Oct 16, 2010, 09:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I won't say I fully agree with Doofy, but I also think that nobody's ever challenged her over her bad social skills.
Thing is, I don't think this chick has particularly bad social skills. I reckon society has become so pussified (both in the colonies and back in the homeland) that it no longer knows how to deal with people with big personalities without trying to classify their behaviour in terms of some kind of disorder.

I work with people who'd all be classed as narcissistic if we're to use society's definitions. And they're really not - they simply have big personalities, which you have to know how to handle. There's a tendency for modern society to try to make everyone conform to a certain personality ruleset, and those who have trouble conforming get labelled with all kinds of things. It's almost like we're nearly ready for our Mao suits.
So is this really a failure of her social skills, or is it a failure of everyone else's?

If it is, indeed, a failure of hers then we have to realise that some women in the workplace haven't figured it out yet. Some try too hard because they have the impression that the glass ceiling still exists. Some relish the new found power that a management position entails and tend to lord it over others. Some can't shake the "Heat" and "OK" magazine mentality and actually get off on office politics. There's all sorts of variables without it being a classifiable personality disorder.
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bstone
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Oct 16, 2010, 09:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Lots of info out there for dealing with high-conflict people (HCP). They're B cluster of DSM-IV (Narcissistic, Histrionic, Antisocial, etc.). Narcissists have a fear of being inferior.
That would be Axis 2, not "b cluster".

For narcissists I believe the recommended route is to resist insulting them - even though you might be tempted to do so because of their annoying arrogance/insensitivity. Reassure them that they're important, praise them for positive work/skills/actions, but don't give them "special treatment - emphasize that they have to follow the rules and/or policies.

greg
I have only ever heard (from my professors and practicing therapists) to have nothing to do with them. At all.
     
ghporter
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Oct 16, 2010, 09:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Thing is, I don't think this chick has particularly bad social skills. I reckon society has become so pussified (both in the colonies and back in the homeland) that it no longer knows how to deal with people with big personalities without trying to classify their behaviour in terms of some kind of disorder.
In some ways, I agree that most people don't stand up and confront bad behavior of any kind. But in this case, it sounds like she's more than a "big personality." It sounds like she was raised to be bossy and to push wherever possible. I've seen that sort of person, and seen 'em trip themselves up by trying to push the wrong people. The boss, for example. (Extra points for this type of person trying to do this with an NCO of superior rank-because the fallout is truly entertaining.)

Whether it's a matter of "growing a pair" or of simply having enough of the crap, someone does need to stand up and tell this person she's being a pain and disrupting work, life, and the world in genera.

My advice earlier, for Jawbone to "be busy with other projects" at work and so on was to help him get a little distance and lose some stress over the matter. it won't fix things, but it will take the pressure off of him. And maybe give him the insight into just exactly what about her bugs him most, so he can tell her.

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Oct 16, 2010, 09:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
In some ways, I agree that most people don't stand up and confront bad behavior of any kind. But in this case, it sounds like she's more than a "big personality." It sounds like she was raised to be bossy and to push wherever possible.
I really can't see the big deal. Like, newsflash, women are catty at work! Who knew?
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Oct 16, 2010, 10:10 PM
 
It sounds like it's more than just cattiness, and Jawbone notes that she's this way outside of work too.

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Oct 17, 2010, 10:37 PM
 
Well, without some intervention, I can display about half of those traits (I know, it's shocking). It really helps that I have loved ones who call me a sh*thead and tell me to pull my head out of my ass on a fairly regular basis. Yeah, they really do.

Just this week: "You're being an asshole again, snap out of it".

Her husband and family are going to have to step up.
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Oct 18, 2010, 05:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Well, without some intervention, I can display about half of those traits (I know, it's shocking). It really helps that I have loved ones who call me a sh*thead and tell me to pull my head out of my ass on a fairly regular basis. Yeah, they really do.

Just this week: "You're being an asshole again, snap out of it".

Her husband and family are going to have to step up.
This is the best option, IMHO. Or have someone that said person considers to be of "great authority" and respects a whole lot, to inform them in a not so politically correct manner that said person is not the most important person around.
     
Shaddim
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Oct 18, 2010, 11:53 AM
 
Oh, and I tend to get slapped and bonked on the head a lot.
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Oct 18, 2010, 12:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
What Dakar said, but also because it's damaging her marriage to the extent that her easy-going husband has confided in some of us that he's at his breaking point, and doesn't know what else to do. His health has gone downhill ever since they've been married. He loves her, but she's becoming too much for anyone to handle.

<snip>

She is putting every relationship around her on edge, so she can't be leading others in ministry unless something changes.

<snip>

The problem is that she's one of the most amazing people I've ever been around, but she has this one glaring issue that could end up ruining her.
Anyone that causes this much conflict and angst cannot be described as amazing.

If she has pushed you so far as to solicit advice from an internet forum (something you say you typically wouldn't do) she is NOT amazing... she's an ass and you need to rid her from your life.
     
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Oct 18, 2010, 12:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
If she has pushed you so far as to solicit advice from an internet forum (something you say you typically wouldn't do) she is NOT amazing... she's an ass and you need to rid her from your life.
This.

Talent and ability can only take you so far. In this case, I don't think it's been conclusively proven that this woman cannot be replaced. If she's truly that disruptive to the workplace, you need to have a frank conversation with your supervisor and hers (if they are not the same person) and document their disruptive behavior. The needs of the team are far more important to the organization than the contributions of one individual. And if the team can't work with this person, they need to be removed from the team.
     
The Final Dakar
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Oct 18, 2010, 12:36 PM
 
Tell her she's going to hell if she doesn't get her shit under control.
     
   
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