The Narcissists in Us

Too many times I have encountered narcissists. I even get to see one in the mirror at times. Narcissism is impossible to get away from because as Scott Peck states, we tend to see things always, at first, from our own perspective. We may, later, see the other's, and that springs from our ability to empathise.

Empathy is critical to any marketer. In fact successful Marketing is steeped in the ability to empathise. With consumers. The ability to see things from their perspective. Take any service encounter. The best way to to manage this dynamic scenario is by being empathetic. The customer at your store comes in with a perspective that's his own. His queries arise from his personal 'store-view'. He sees and interprets your store based on a psyche that's uniquely his. Sure, he may turn out to be like an earlier customer, yet what he sees, is his own world. Managing him requires a marketer to walk that world.

Narcissists who can't practice empathy, that is disconnect from themselves to see another's point of view, are dangerous, both to society and to Marketing. They remain blind to others and their points of view, thus rendering themselves ineffective in spheres that require social or business contact. In classrooms too, empathy is the key. All those times when I've failed to grasp a student's reaction and respond accordingly, I've let the narcissist in me get the better of me. I lose on empathy. The scenario that I encounter, confounds me. Post mortem, at a later point in time when I ride my ability to empathise, I see clearly what the scenario meant. And then I decipher the student's reaction and learn what should have been an appropriate response. Should I not at a later point empathise, I may even ascribe 'wrong' to the other. Which then has the abilty to 'influence' my future encounters.

Scott Peck puts it brilliantly in his book, 'People of the Lie'; 'We all of us tend to be more or less self centered in our dealings with others. We usually view any given situation first and foremost from the standpoint of how its affects us personally, and only as an afterthought do we bother to consider how the same situation might affect someone else involved. Nonetheless, particularly if we care for the other person, we usually can and eventually do think about his or her viewpoint, which may well be different from ours.

Not so those who are evil. Theirs is a brand of narcissism so total that they seem to lack, in whole or in part, this capacity for empathy...

We can see, then, that their narcissism makes the evil dangerous not only because it motivates them to scapegoat others but also because it deprives them of the restraint that results from empathy and respect for others. In addition to the fact that the evil need victims to sacrifice to their narcissism, their narcissism permits them to ignore the humanity of their victims as well. As it gives them motive for murder, so it also renders them insensitive to the act of killing. The blindness of the narcissist to others can extend even beyond a lack of empathy; narcissists may not "see" others at all.'

Comments

nikhil said…
but student and teacher relationship in class is not replica of a marketer and consumer relationship in market.

marketer job is to deliver what consumer like even if it is harmful for him ( like coke)

professor job is to deliver what is best for student even if student doesn't like it ( like milk)

empathy, patience, humble and non- discrimination among poor & excellent student are some qualities of a great professor.


i am afraid that you are going to change your teaching style.

because i think you were the best professor i have ever seen in my life.
Prof.Ray Titus said…
Nikhil,

At the risk of sounding bourgeois, I must say everything's a trade. There's always a buyer and there's a seller. You just have to look keen enough to spot it.

About me being the 'best' proffie, though I don't think I am, thank you.

Appreciate it :)

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