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Are sales-related jobs the best hiding places for narcs?

In my work I have found that personalities with mild ADHD type traits tend to become successful in sales. Their persuasive nature make them successful in this and many other careers that require creative out of the box thinking and influencing.

They tend to be active, impulsive, decisive, take risks and are attracted to jobs that give them freedom and control over their work. For this reason many eventually work for themselves.

However due to their impulsive and inconsistent or reactive nature, they are not always the greatest at professionalising their business so may need support with this, if they allow it. They find it difficult to be confined by rules and to be tied into an aligned vision with others, and can become angry and reactive if forced. Perhaps these similar difficulties that present in their personal and work relationships can cause them to appear to be narcissistic in nature.

Though the ADHD type personality is sociable, likeable and charming, they can be unpredictable and inconsistent. Their self reflection abilities are poor which can cause problems in relationships.

Though this personality needs to be in a structure to achieve their potential they resist structure i.e. company rules, society rules, relationship norms, or a family structure. In fact they don't like structure unless they are doing something they are extremely interested in, otherwise they can become distracted.

They can be poor self managers when not motivated yet hyperfocused when interested. Many may not have completed school or college because they found confinement and focus difficult.

All too often the subjects provided were not stimulating neurologically and when not interested this personality will not focus. However if they are lucky enough to find a career that stimulates their interest (which often can be in sales) they thrive.

They have a need for active, engaging, creative jobs that allow them receive immediate measurable results. This timely feedback is necessary and motivating to them. Money and success are motivators for this personality. This makes the sales environment and indeed any career environment that meets these needs attractive.

They finally have an opportunity to prove their excellent abilities which may not have been possible in school or college. This can make them very driven to succeed at all costs to prove themselves due to perhaps their poor performance in the school or college environment. (Though some may have excelled in school as ADHD affects/presents in so many different ways).

This proving of ability in addition to the tendency of the ADHD person to hyperfocus can lead to the person becoming addicted to their work.

This busyness can work as a self medication to calming the hyper ADHD brain. However, sadly, important relationships suffer. This personality can be so driven and hyperfocused they may not be aware how their behaviour or decisions might impact on others. They can also be unaware of their inability to prioritise relationships inside and outside work.

Unfortunately these very traits that make them successful in their job might not make them great partners and appear narcissistic. Though Katie I am not denying that some could be narcissists hiding in sales jobs, quite a few I have met through my work were undiagnosed ADHD and had found sales was a place they could shine for the first time in their lives.

Perhaps if we understood this we might have patience and compassion, once we are not compromising on our own happiness. I would suggest couples who are having difficulties perhaps consider counselling with a therapist who really understands neurodifference to discuss how these traits are impacting on the relationship and family life and bring awareness to what behaviour changes are needed to improve the relationship and if a professional diagnosis might be helpful.

In some cases where ADHD anxiety or depression has set in specific medication can be helpful. Working with a 40 year old client who went for a professional diagnosis last week and was prescribed the lowest dose of concerta. His very words words within a day was “is this how normal people feel” he finally felt calm in his mind.

Being aware of our neurodifference is a great gift to ourselves and to the next generation because it has been my experience that if there are children, one or more of the children can also be struggling to fit into neurotypical educational and social system that needs to change.

For more information about the subjects covered in this blog, contact Margaret Parkes - phone: 086 832 0422 email:

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