Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Realtors in the field – dealing with narcissistic clients and agents



Narcissism no longer considered a mental disorder

A recent Washington University study reveals new information that debunks traditional theory on narcissism, how narcissists see themselves and how others see narcissists. Recently, narcissism has been completely removed from the medical profession’s classification as a mental disorder.

Because you’re in sales and a closing can rely on your ability to negotiate with different personality types be they clients or agents on the other side of the table, we have outlined below four tendencies to look out for in spotting and communicating with a narcissist.

Traditionally, it has been thought that narcissists are shallow and focus on themselves in a way that makes them totally unaware that they are narcissists, but the new studies reveal that not only are narcissists completely self aware, they are genuinely proud of their narcissistic behavior.

The new bleeding edge study confirms traditionally held beliefs that narcissists believe themselves to be superior in intelligence, humor, likability and so forth, but the element of the study that confirms self awareness of narcissism (the new finding in medical circles) is that narcissists scored highly when questioned about their having negative aspects of narcissism like arrogance, impulsive behavior and exaggeration of abilities.

Additionally, when the study interviewed people that know the narcissists, of course the score for the positive attributes dropped and the narcissist could predict with relative accuracy how others would rate their abilities (even when low).

“Am I a narcissist?”

Given these findings, if you have to ask yourself if you’re a narcissist, you aren’t one. Narcissists are completely self aware and proud to be narcissists, they choose to remain narcissists. A funny test is the following: (1) think about yourself for a moment, then (2) if you get to step two, you’re not a narcissist.

But how does that impact your business in dealing with these types? Because the definition has changed in the last year alone, below are four steps to better understanding and dealing with narcissists. I am not a therapist and don’t claim any expertise in narcissism, the below tips are based on my own experience and are simply suggestions, we look forward to hearing your own in the comments after the tips.

Step one: understand that you’re just a hater

You would think that a narcissist knowing that they are not perceived as highly as they perceive themselves would give them a reality check, but the study suggests the individuals assume people around them are not smart enough to see how amazing they are or assume that people around them are just jealous haters.

Reaction tip: in dealing with a narcissist, you should know that when you don’t understand or acknowledge their brilliance, they will automatically assume you are a hater. So if you’re dealing with a narcissist agent in negotiations, maybe start conversations with “I have really admired how creatively you have handled these contracts, I’m really impressed! Although we’re not on the exact same page with the offer numbers, I think [insert price] would give you a win with your clients and help the deal close.” None of that was about you or your clients, it was about them and reassuring them that they are brilliant.

Step two: allowing bragging

Okay, so now you know you’ll probably just be seen as a hater if you’re not complimentary. You should know that narcissistic arrogance is real and not some hidden insecurity as previously thought. This is HUGE- to me, this is the biggest dividing factor between narcissists and insecure egotistical personalities. The study shows that bragging may be a narcissist’s way of demanding the recognition they deeply believe they deserve as a way to bridge the gap between their self perceptions and how people around them perceive them.

Reaction tip: you’re at coffee with a new client, the buyer’s rep agreement has been signed and now you’re talking about preferences. Your client says that he’s bought eleven homes in his lifetime and he knows what he’s doing and really he just needs you there to process paperwork. Consider, “What a relief! I’m so glad to have someone like you as a part of this process, it is always helpful when a client is so well educated.”

Step three: don’t laugh at Sheen’s machete act

Results of the study (and other studies) reveal that narcissists maintain their self respect by misconstruing the meaning of narcissism from a negative (someone who is overly confident despite merit) and in their mind turn it into a positive (deservedly confident). Duh, winning! Research reveals that narcissists care less about being liked and more about being admired, so narcissism has been construed in their minds as a positive.

Reaction tip: Imagine you’re the listing agent on the phone with buyer’s agent and the agent goes on and on about how cocky he is and how he wakes up in the morning and pisses excellence, the last thing you want to do is poke the bear- don’t chuckle or condescend, let the narcissist believe their hype because you can’t change their mind and it is not your job. Keep a level head even when they insult you in their haze of not caring about being liked and remember that they want respect/admiration instead.

Step four: you’re not going to be BFFs

Researchers show that narcissistic personalities were viewed more positively by new acquaintances (of which they are fully aware), as their relationships tend to deteriorate over time because narcissists constantly search for “better” relationships. Also, creating a first impression is more “rewarding” for narcissists as it is less work than bridging the gap between their image of themselves and the image of them that people around them have. In other words, it’s hard work to keep up the bragging over time, so it’s more fun to brag to new people.

Reaction tip: you are at a closing with your narcissist client and you now know that she’s already impressed you with her amazing ability to buy real estate (ooh, fancy). To keep her in your network, continue garnering referrals and hopefully be her agent on the next transaction, you’ll have to passively remain part of her world. Trying to invite her to the weekly neighborhood barbeque or asking her to go shopping with you and be besties will ensure she’ll move on from you before any referral or future transaction. Keep her in your email or mailer list and at closing tell her, “I’m so impressed with how you kept your cool and were so savvy about such a complex transaction, I can’t wait for your friends to know about your success and I look forward to working with them as well, I can only hope they were as great to work with as you.” Then don’t Facebook poke her every Thursday, just let it rest.

Your takeaway:

With narcissists, it’s better to go with the grain and be complimentary. You won’t reform a narcissist, they love being narcissistic and they crave admiration despite whether or not they are liked. Keep a level head and chuckle in your head but never aloud, even when they are insulting as a means of maintaining their self perception.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Continue Reading


  1. Chris Somers

    April 3, 2011 at 7:11 am


    This is a terrific and amazing article. Have come across this more with agents than with clients. I think the market humbled clients more so. But many agents defintely have this persona. I love your takeaway and that is what I try to do although it is very difficult sometimes, especially during the negotiation process : )


    • Lani Rosales

      April 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Chris, a true narcissist is not humbled by any market, only people with narcissistic tendencies can be humbled according to the study. That is one of the shocking parts to me- they’ve chosen to be narcissists and not because of hidden insecurity but their belief in their self perception.

      It’s hard to remember, but narcissists are narcissists, not bad people 🙂

  2. Jacksonville short sale

    April 3, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Well this was very timely!

    • Lani Rosales

      April 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      Are you across the table from a narcissist or working with one as a client? I personally think it’s more difficult to deal with in Southern culture because we expect people to be humble. And when they’re not, it can be off-putting, no?

  3. Fred Glick

    April 7, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Am I narcissistic if I have my own name as my email and website?

    • Lani Rosales

      April 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm

      Fred, silly, that’s marketing, not narcissism 🙂

      PS: you should use your Twitter avatar as your photo… just my opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work

(OPINION EDITORIALS) With more and more people joining the LGBTQIA+ community it’d do one well to think about ways to extend inclusiveness at work.




LGBTQIA+ people may have won marriage equality in 2015, but this momentous victory didn’t mean that discrimination was over. Queer and LGBTQIA+ identified people still have to deal with discrimination and not being in a work environment that supports their identities.

Workplace inclusivity may sound like the hottest new business jargon term on the block, but it actually just a professional way of making sure that everyone feels like a valued team member at the office. Business psychologists have found when people are happy to go to work, they are 12 percent more productive.

Making your business environment a supportive one for the queer community means you’re respecting employees and improving their workplace experience.

Here’s nine ways you can make your workplace more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ people.

1) Learn the basics.
If you’re wanting to make your workplace more open to LGBTQIA+ people, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Firstly, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual and the plus encompassing other identities not named; there are many variants on the acronym. Sexual orientations (like lesbian, gay, bisexual) are not the same as gender identities.

Transgender means that that person “seeks to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.” Cisgender means a person identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. If you need a more comprehensive rundown about sexual orientation, gender identity, and the like, visit the GLAAD reference guide.

2) Stop using the word “gay” as an insult.
Or insinuating people you don’t like are “gay” together. This is the most basic thing that can be done for workplace inclusivity regarding the queer community. Anything that actively says that LGBTQIA+ people are “lesser” than their straight counterparts can hurt the queer people on your team and make them not feel welcome. It’s not cool.

3) Don’t make jokes that involve the LGBTQIA+ community as a punchline.
It’s not cute to make a “funny quip” about pronouns or to call someone a lesbian because of their outfit. This kind of language makes people feel unwanted in the workplace, but many won’t be able to speak up due to the lack of protections about LGBTQIA+ identities in anti-discrimination statutes. So stop it.

4) Support your colleagues.
If you’re in a situation and hear negative or inappropriate talk regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, stick up for your co-workers. Even if they’re not there, by simply expressing that what was said or done was inappropriate, you’re helping make your workplace more inclusive.

5) Avoid the super probing questions.
It’s okay to talk relationships and life with coworkers, but it can cross a line. If you have a transgender colleague, it’s never going to be appropriate to pry about their choices regarding their gender identity, especially since these questions revolve around their body.

If you have a colleague who has a differing sexual orientation than yours, questions about “how sex works” or any invasive relationship question (“are you the bride or the groom”) is going to hurt the welcomeness of your office space. Just don’t do it.

6) Written pronoun clarity is for everyone!
One thing that many LGBTQIA+ people may do is add their pronouns to their business card, email signature, or name badge for clarity. If you’re cisgender, adding your pronouns to these things can offer support and normalize this practice for the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only does it make sure that you are addressed correctly, you’re validating the fact that it’s an important business practice for everyone to follow.

7) Tokens are for board games, not for people.
LGBTQIA+ people are often proud of who they are and for overcoming adversity regarding their identity. However, it’s never ever going to be okay to just reduce them to the token “transgender colleague” or the “bisexual guy.”

Queer people do not exist to earn you a pat on the back for being inclusive, nor do they exist to give the final word on marketing campaigns for “their demographic.” They’re people just like you who have unique perspectives and feelings. Don’t reduce them just to a token.

8) Bathroom usage is about the person using the bathroom, not you.
An individual will make the choice of what bathroom to use, it does not need commentary. If you feel like they “don’t belong” in the bathroom you’re in due to their gender presentation, don’t worry about it and move on. They made the right choice for them.

An easy way to make restroom worries go away is creating gender neutral restrooms. Not only can they shorten lines, they can offer support for transgender, nonbinary, or other LGBTQIA+ people who just need to go as much as you do.

9) Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone will slip up during their journey to make their workplace more inclusive. If you didn’t use the correct pronouns for your non-binary colleague or misgender someone during a presentation, apologize to them, correct yourself, and do better next time. The worst thing to do is if someone corrects you is for you to shut down or get angry. An open ear and an open heart is the best way to make your work environment supportive for all.

The workplace can be a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ people, or it could be a hurtful one, depending on the specific culture of the institution. But with some easy changes, it can be a space in which queer and LGBTQIA+ people can feel respected and appreciated.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

“Starting a business is easy,” said only one guy ever

(OPNION EDITORIAL) Between following rules, finding funding, and gathering research, no business succeeds without lifting a finger.



finger college companies apprenticeship grad college

While browsing business articles this week, I came across this one, “Top 10 Business Ideas You Can Start for Free With Barely Lifting a Finger.” These types of articles make me mad. I can’t think of many successful freelancers or entrepreneurs who don’t put in hours of blood, sweat and tears to get a business going.

The author of the article is Murray Newlands, a “VIP Contributor.” Essentially, he’s a freelancer because he also contributes to Forbes, HuffPro and others. He’s the founder of, which is important, because it’s the first business idea he promotes in the article.

But when I pull up his other articles on, I see others like “How to Get Famous and Make Money on YouTube,” “Win Like A Targaryen: 10 Businesses You Can Start for Free,” and “10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free.”

I seriously cannot believe that keeps paying for the same ideas over and over.

The business ideas that are suggested are pretty varied. One suggestion is to offer online classes. I wonder if Newlands considered how long it takes to put together a worthy curriculum and how much effort goes into marketing said course.

Then, you have to work out the bugs, because users will have problems. How do you keep someone from stealing your work? What happens when you have a dispute?

Newlands suggests that you could start a blog. It’s pretty competitive these days. The most successful bloggers are ones that really work on their blog, every day. The bloggers have a brand, offer relevant content and are ethical in how they get traffic.

Think it’s easy? Better try again.

I could go on. Every idea he puts up there is a decent idea, but if he thinks it will increase your bottom line without a lot of hard work and effort, he’s delusional.

Today’s entrepreneurs need a plan. They need to work that plan, rethink it and keep working. They have to worry about liability, marketing and keeping up with technologies.

Being an entrepreneur is rewarding, but it’s hard work. It is incredibly inappropriate and grossly negligent to encourage someone to risk everything they have and are on the premise of not lifting a finger.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Why freelancers should know their worth

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Money is always an awkward talking point and can be difficult for freelancers to state their worth.



selflessness freelancer worth

Recently, I delved into what I’ve learned since becoming a freelancer. However, I neglected to mention one of the most difficult lessons to learn, which was something that presented itself to me rather quickly.

“What is your fee for services?” was not a question I had prepared myself for. When it came to hourly rates, I was accustomed to being told what I would make and accepting that as my worth.

This is a concept that needs multiple components to be taken into consideration. You need to evaluate the services you’re providing, the timeliness in which you can accomplish said services, and your level of expertise.

Dorie Clark of the Harvard Business Review believes that freelancers should be charging clients more than what they think they’re worth. The price you give to your clients is worth quite a bit, itself.

Underpricing can send a bad message to your potential clients. If they’re in the market for your services, odds are they are comparing prices from a few other places.

Having too low of a number can put up a red flag to clients that you may be under-experienced. What you’re pricing should correlate with quality and value; set a number that shows you do good work and value that work.

Clark suggests developing a network of trustworthy confidants that you can bounce ideas off of, including price points. Having an idea of what other people in your shoes are doing can help you feel more comfortable when it comes to increasing prices.

And, for increasing prices, it is not something that is going to just happen on its own. It’s highly unlikely for a client to say, “you know what, I think I’ll give you a raise!”

It’s important to never take advantage of any client, but it’s especially important to show loyalty to the ones that have always been loyal to you. Test the waters of price increasing by keeping your prices lower for clients that have always been there, but then try raising prices as you take on new clients.

At the end of the day, keep in mind that you are doing this work to support yourself and, theoretically, because you’re good at it. Make sure you’re putting an appropriate price tag on that value.

Continue Reading

American Genius
News neatly in your inbox

Join thousands of AG fans and SUBSCRIBE to get business and tech news updates, breaking stories, and MORE!

Emerging Stories