Dealing with a Narcissistic Boss - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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narcisstic boss

Dealing with a Narcissistic Boss

Do you feel your boss is a narcissist? Do they expect you to be on call the entire day? Are they a person who blames everyone else other than themselves for any mistakes? Do they often argue and contradict themselves? Well, if the answer to most of these questions is yes, then it appears you are probably reporting to a narcissist! Some of the common character traits of a narcissist include being selfish, throwing temper tantrums, and taking away the credit for other people’s work. A narcissist boss is quite capable of making your life miserable.

What makes it even worse is the methods with which deal with difficult individuals will probably not work with a narcissist. In fact, it may even make things worse. Here are a couple of ways in which you can deal with them effectively.

  1. Focus on the issues. By now you should be aware that your feelings don’t matter at all to your narcissist boss. Even if you try telling him or her about your feelings, there are very bleak chances of them feeling, although they may understand your problem in some way. Hence, it makes so much more sense to focus on ways to deal with conflicts and problems and come up with solutions to share with him instead.
  2. Allow them to call the shots. It is best if you allow them to make the decisions, as they feel that they always know best. Narcissist individuals always control freaks, so it is wise to allow them to make decisions. Be smart enough to share your ideas in such a manner that makes your boss feel that they are constructing the solution and making the decision. You can achieve this by providing him or her with options and allowing them to choose one so that they feel as if they are the ones making the decision.
  3. Avoid trying to be friends. Narcissists lack empathy, so it is unreal to expect any genuine friendship. You are more likely to feel betrayed if you are led to believe you, friends. Such individuals act without keeping your interests in mind. Even if they are showing signs of being friendly, it’s because they are searching for something, be it your ideas, your attention, or something else.
  4. Avoid criticising them. You need to understand that they are not capable of taking positive criticism. Instead of taking your criticism positively and trying to work upon it, a narcissistic individual may instead become quite angry. Some narcissists can even flare up in rage. All your effort of providing feedback is likely to fall upon deaf ears. What’s worse, you may have to bear the brunt of their anger.
  5. Avoid getting competitive. If you are thinking that you can please and convince your boss to treat you better by proving yourself at work, then you are wrong. You need to remember that narcissists are least bothered about facts. A narcissist boss always assumes that you are doing great work because of what you learnt from him or her. So avoid being competitive to prove yourself.
  6. Make your narcissist feel good. You need to remember that for a narcissist, everything is always about them. So if your words and actions can make them feel good, they will be much more tolerable than if you criticise or undermining their authority. Narcissists always look out for praise and acknowledgement, so you need to be mentally prepared to give it to them.
  7. Learn to soak up the blame. It is a common trait amongst narcissists that they shrug their responsibility for anything negative, be it declining revenues or a poor culture in the office. They always put the blame on somebody else. So you may need to develop the habit of absorbing the blame.
  8. Define and maintain your boundaries. If you feel your narcissist boss is behaving in an unacceptable manner, then you must tell them.  It may not go down well with them, but it is equally important to define your boundaries as clearly as possible. Ensure that you refrain from criticising them in public. Try to praise them while explaining your solution.

Working for a narcissistic boss isn’t easy. However, if you pay heed to the tips, it may help you survive with one, till you find a better boss!


Byron Conway

Content Coordinator at EmployeeConnect