Business Eye with Alex Pratt: “Narcissism is everywhere”

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Have you spotted the accelerating growth in self- obsessed, self-focussed behaviour? If not, you need to wake up because it is impacting your business every day.

“America First” and the Brexit “We don’t want Johnny Foreigners coming over here” approach are both examples of selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own worth. We are seeing it writ large in the rise of nationalism and the strengthening of protectionism in trade. We are swimming in narcissism as the new norm, not just here but across the Western world with imminent votes in France, Holland and Italy likely to strengthen the “Me First!” crescendo.

The poster child for craving self-centredness and a failure to distinguish self from external objects is Donald Trump, who was elected after being abundantly clear how self-centred he is, and by appealing heavily to the selfishness of others. He has naturally set about treating the White House as the PR office for his daughter’s business.

It is no good railing against icons of selfishness, because they are only placed there in democracies by the majority of those who choose to vote.

Western culture has turned self-centric. All nationalism is but a collective narcissism and it is the predominating culture in your team and in your customer base.

This week we had a customer complain that, having bought six months ago, they had noticed a January sale and insisted the discount be back-dated. Nobody ever calls and demands to pay more because they got a better deal than the one they have since seen.

I’ve even had people read this column and somehow believe I’ve written it about them. If you’re in that boat, then I put it to you that Donald Trump is probably less self-obsessed than you.

Of course, while blind to our own narcissism we project it on others, even when it is not there.

Speaker John Bercow shared his personal view about Brexit to a group of students and opprobrium was unleashed in his direction by the true narcissists who can only see their own passions, demands and image.

The more narcissistic we allow ourselves to be, the less truly happy we become and that goes for Mr Trump as much as for you and me.