The Micro Managing Narcissist
The Micro Manager is someone who does not describe what he or she wants done and then trusts in someone else to know what to do and how to do it. Instead, the Micro Manager is someone who effectively stands over the shoulder of the person charged with performing the task or project and excessively directs, interferes and criticises, often insisting on changes and then wanting it to be changed back to the way it was before whilst denying it had been correct the first time anyway. Micro management is not in itself a conclusive indicator that somebody is one of our kind, but micro management is a form of manipulation that is used by our kind to further control and gain fuel.
It will be used most commonly in two environments ; the home with the Intimate Partner Primary Source (“IPPS”) and the workplace with Non Intimate Secondary Sources (“NISS”) although you might be doubly unlucky and be an IPPS who works with us also. Good luck with that.
In the domestic environment, the Micro Managing Narcissist (“MMN”) creates a highly unpleasant, oppressive and demanding atmosphere. Whilst our manipulations as a whole cause our victims to second guess and walk on those well known eggshells, the MMN ramps the experience up to a new level.
Whatever task you are engaged in the MMN will be making his or presence known. There are a variety of ways this will manifest:-
- Watching you carry out tasks and chores but not saying anything. If you ask why the MMN is watching you, you will be met with
“Don’t mind me, I am just staying out of the way before it goes wrong.”
“Can’t I watch my wife doing some work for once?”
“Just keeping an eyes on things.”
“I am waiting to sort it out when it all goes belly up.”
2. Repeatedly passing you as you are engaged in doing something and sighing, rolling their eyes or tutting and if you challenge them you will either be met with one of the responses above or similar or a denial that anything was said and that you are imagining things.
3. Standing over you and commenting in a critical fashion about what you are doing, pointing out that you are doing it wrong, that you are going to break it if you keep doing that, it will never work doing it that way, you are going too fast/too slow/ and so forth. If you react to this you will be told you are over-reacting, that you cannot take criticism or that we were only trying to help.
4. Being the expert. Rather than expressly criticising what you are doing as per item three above, this time the MMN will be telling you precisely how it should be done as per his or her expert knowledge but of course we will not lower ourselves to actually help you do it or show you how it ought to be done. We would rather stand on the sidelines and snipe at you.
5. Bringing the expert along. Similar to the above but we will just happen to know some expert who knows a better way of pruning that bush and if you respond to this, then we will retaliate with “So are you saying such and such is not an expert then?” in order to make you feel that you are out of line for issuing such a challenge.
6. Providing a running commentary on what you are doing as if you are not there and we are talking to someone else. “She is never going to get them to sit right doing it that way is she?” or “Oh dear, he won’t remove that stain doing that, what a schoolboy error.” This form of micro management is especially dehumanising by acting as if you do not exist.
Invariably you may well be doing nothing wrong but this looking over your shoulder behaviour will put you on edge and make you anxious which means you may make mistakes which of course we will seize on with a cry of triumph and the all too familiar “told you so”.
Everything you do is scrutinised, commented on, observed and ultimately expressly or implicitly criticised. This is designed to make you feel worthless and devalued. It naturally is aimed at drawing fuel from you, whether through hurt, upset, anger or frustration. Whatever your reaction happens to be, do not expect that we will provide you with any support or encouragement. Instead your response, whilst welcomed as fuel, will be used against you.
“There is no point getting upset about it, you need to learn to do it better.”
“Don’t try and blame me for your shortcomings, I am sick of you doing that.”
“I try and help you and this is how you react? You are so ungrateful.”
“If you did it right the first time I wouldn’t have to comment would I?”
If you try to make us carry out the task we will just shake our head and walk away muttering some insult under our breath or tell you that it is not a solution to try and pass the task to someone else, you need to learn how to do it right.
You should also expect our contradictory nature to make an appearance. Thus last week we told you that you should always put the milk in the mug before adding the tea bag and then this week it is the other way around. Do not think that pointing this out to us will cause us to accept the contradiction; there is fuel to be gathered by keep doing this.
All of your endeavours in the home will be subjected to scrutiny and observation. We will stand and watch you as you iron or clean. We will comment on the way you are cooking the evening meal, doing the gardening, putting items in the cupboards and so forth. Whatever you are doing will be subjected to this behaviour by the MMN.
The following are the aims of the MMN :-
- Fuel from your responses;
- Exertion of close and detailed control;
- Erosion of your self-worth;
- Creation of anxiety and tension
Is this something that all of our kind engage in? No it is not. The Lesser Narcissist will engage in such behaviour and his approach will be one of repeated criticism and exasperation at your apparent incompetence. They tend to engage in behaviours 1,2 and 3 the most. The Mid-Ranger will also do this and be more inclined to operate in the way described in behaviours 4,5, and 6. Greaters, of all the schools of narcissist are less inclined to engage in MMN because they will regard even commenting on what you are doing around the house as beneath them. They consider it too mundane and boring to merit spending time observing you. Instead, they are far more likely to go for an After The Event Put Down such as:-
“This dessert is quite good but obviously nowhere near as good as mine last week.”
“Is this shirt meant to be ironed?”
“What on earth is this abortion of an effort?”
“It is not going to win any awards.”
“I don’t know why you bothered, it will be dead within the week.”
“I hadn’t realised Jackson Pollock had decorated the study.”
“I see the blind window cleaner has visited us again.”
The Greater will just prefer to shoot down your endeavour at the end, fully aware of the effort that you have put into the particular task or project and undoing it with a sarcastic or hurtful remark. This is more his approach than spending time watching you do something mundane and remark on it.
How then do you counter the MMN in the home?
- As ever do not react to the jibes, comments and observations. If you avoid providing fuel the MMN has less of a motivation for engaging in the behaviour and will either stop it or at least do it less often.
- Get a professional in to perform the tasks. Even if for just one week, hire a cleaner, gardener, someone to iron the clothing, order takeaway meals every night. Once the bills arrive you will of course be blamed but you have saved yourself a whole host of effort.
- Perform the tasks for yourself and the children but not for the MMN. He will of course complain and this will ignite his fury but you were being undermined and devalued you anyway. This still happens but you are saving yourself some effort. The MMN whilst entitled also wants those residual benefits that you provide and if you withdraw them they will look to manipulate you into reinstating them and this may well be through the provision of compliments and reward. Of course there is a risk of additional threats being made, but no doubt these will be no worse than what you are already experiencing.
- Don’t invite the MMN to try and do a better job. You are just giving fuel and the MMN will not regard your behaviour as something he needs to address. Whilst you might think there is a temptation for him to prove his superiority by doing the task, his desire to avoid expending energy unnecessarily and his sense of entitlement means he will find some reason not to do it.
- Instead you may consider framing the request in terms of “I need an expert to show me how it is done” this will not always work but stands a better chance of engaging the MMN to pitch in by appealing to his sense of superiority than challenging it.
- Remain an IPSS.
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6 thoughts on “The Micro Managing Narcissist”
Once again HG, excellent blog. I have experienced this, both at home and at work.
At home it was with my mother, in the end I just gave up and let her do everything. I tried to help with the chores only to be told “you are always in the way” “you never do it right”. Of course, this enabled her to once again become a martyr “I have to do everything, and nobody helps me” She really made me hate myself big time. You try to please someone who will never be pleased.
At work I had the same sadly, in the end I had to change jobs because of it. It was not an easy decision to make but it was a relief not to have someone on your back all the time. The worst is if you slave over work only for someone else to take credit for it.
All my experiences sadly made me a misanthropist with a great distrust of human kind. I have learned most people are in fact incredibly vile.
I started laughing when I read “Maybe he ‘resented’ that more.”. Of course, he did. That made it more the funnier for me (just now).
Bless you, HG, for reposting the older threads, very good to re-read them 🙂
Is this the best assistance package for dealing with friends also, or is it specific to the work environment?
If the friend is engaging in similar behaviours, then yes, it is.
Thank you HG.
for assistance regarding friends, I think there are better options. I do miss an AP or LB specifically regarding secondary sources, non intimate, but I understand the to do list is long and growing, therefore at this moment, the best alternative is Shelf appliances : double pack.
In the intro it is said it encompasses all scenarios of secondary sources not only intimate, but in reality it is mainly intimate secondary sources. Still, very useful!! The shelf dynamic in friendship with a narcissist is a real thing, therefore you will still find answers in this package.