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Home > Crew Matters > Have you ever questioned whether a person is a narcissist? 
Yacht Crew standing next to a yacht

Have you ever questioned whether a person is a narcissist? 

In a recent poll I did with my Instagram followers, I was taken aback when 100 percent of the voters said they have worked with a narcissist onboard.

When I asked the Crew what narcissistic behaviours were they exposed to, this is what they had to say…

  • Bullying
  • Gaslighting
  • Shaming
  • Blaming
  • Not admitting to mistakes
  • Lies
  • Making you feel inadequate because they are threatened by you
  • Guilt-tripping

In addition, a Crew member sent me this message perhaps you can relate…

“I  recognised the traits in our chief stew, months ago. We are only a crew of 7 so it is very clear to see. I’ve approached the Capt about it but not much is happening. She has really affected the new deck stew and lays into me at times also but she knows it doesn’t bear well with me and I’ll stand up to her. I know she is massively insecure within her new position as Head Stew. I cannot even discuss menus / daily guests dietary with the boss on my own without her standing by my side 2 mins after the owner and I are talking – even he has seen it. He is an awesome owner – you can just chat with him at any time he wants to engage, so we are lucky. But if anyone talks to him alone she will if she sees it come up and immediately listen in and try to be part of it. So very frustrating- but I see that as one of her insecurities …

I feel for her about this and have addressed things many times but realise she will never listen or take onboard, she has a problem that needs to be worked upon and addressed.

Our mate is leaving because he cannot deal with her and the way she is treating the younger stew and to be honest after more than 30yrs in this industry I am not too far behind him. I really don’t need this! There is more to life than dealing with someone like this on a daily basis …”

Recently in The Crew Coach membership (TCC Tribe) was had two guest experts specialize in dealing with narcissim and how to have “heart-healthy” communication.

The purpose of the membership is not only to connect Crew with like-minded individuals but to inspire and empower through education.

Poppy Spencer asserted that narcissism is three things. First and foremost, it’s about control or power. It’s about winning no matter what the terms are of that. And so the narcissist always gets a dopamine fix whenever they feel like they’ve won or they’ve gained control which is why the reward centre in the brain lights up for them.

And while it seems counterintuitive, the narcissist is also someone who has incredibly low self-esteem and self-worth, you wouldn’t think that’s the case, usually, they’re egocentric and, and braggadocious. And that’s because they’re so insecure and so that’s the way they cover their insecurities up. They tend to have enormous issues that have never been dealt with, usually from childhood. And what happens is that they usually prey upon the vulnerable who are usually kind, thoughtful, or are people pleasers. And they take advantage of them and project their insecurities, their self-hatred onto them. And that’s where gaslighting comes in, is that they make her/him believe that whatever reality she/he thought might’ve happened actually didn’t.  They’ll actually believe that they are the guilty party after a period of time. They may say things like I know I caused this, I know I brought this on. And so they, they accept the shame and the guilt and the blame for so many scenarios, even little tiny things. It’s, unfortunately, so horribly manipulative and what is scary is that it might even be subconscious for the narcissists. They may not even know that they’re doing it. Sometimes they do, but it’s like a slow drip and finally, after months and months, the victim doesn’t even understand how they got to where they are.

How to deal with a narcissist on a vessel, for instance, it’s really hard. First of all, I would never say the word narcissist to anyone.

I would never use that word. So like, Jackie (TCC Tribe member), where you would say, “okay, enough, I’m not doing this anymore”. I’m not going to accept or tolerate this inappropriate disrespectful behaviour… And so you create the barometer or the marker, therefore, you decide when you’re going to tolerate it or not. I think any kind of confrontation toward a narcissist is usually going to backfire.

It usually does and so you don’t ever want to come in blazing because they actually like a fight.

You asked the question how do you fire them? You know, you can almost expect a conflict if you’re trying to fire one, that they will never acknowledge that they’ve done things wrong or have been inappropriate,

I would never use ‘you’ statements, I would say ‘I’ statements, I would say, “I just don’t feel that our values are aligned anymore,” the less you say the better.

Here is some additional information on atypical narcissistic traits:

A sense of entitlement

A common sign of people with narcissism is the belief that they are superior to others and therefore think that they deserve special treatment. They believe that others should comply with their wishes and that the rules don’t apply to them or they should be exempt from the rules.

Manipulative Behaviour

They can come across as charming, however, over time the flattery will subside and they will put their needs first. Manipulative and controlling behaviour are common traits of narcissism.

Need for Admiration

They love having their ego stroked and will search for praise and admiration. They do not shy away from bragging or exaggerating their accomplishments.


They think that it is ok to belittle or shame others who they deem to be inferior

Lack of empathy

They have the inability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and tend to rather brush off others’ feelings, needs and wants.

Now I am sure you are wondering how do I effectively work with a narcissist so that I am not left feeling frustrated and drained.

  1. Educate yourself, information is power. There are great accounts on instagram you can follow that provide resources and tips. When you can understand the narcissist’s drivers for motivation, you will be in a better position to respond to inappropriate behaviours.
  2. Create boundaries. Be clear about your boundaries, know what you are prepared to tolerate and what you are not. If the behaviour is impacting your mental health or ability to do your work, I would recommend moving on. Very difficult to change a narcissist’s way of being. It may upset or cause a rift with the narcissist, but that’s OK, you need to put yourself first.
  3. Be mindful of your wording. Narcissists don’t take negative or constructive feedback well. I would suggest using assertive communication and avoid justifying yourself.
  4. Create a support system ( one of the reason why TCC Tribe exists it provides exemplary support). Working and living with a narcissist can lead to you questioning your abilities, feelings of low self-esteem, confusion, and self-doubt.
  5. See a counsellor. As I said before you can’t expect to change someone however you can change your reactions and choices. Therapy not only provides you with a safe space to be heard but it also provides you with practical skills and strategies that will increase your resilience and help you make better choices. For more on crew counselling visit www.thecrewcoach.com

The Crew Coach

Feel free to get in touch with me at karine@thecrewcoach.com if you have any questions regarding this article.