Managing a Narcissistic Boss
Posted by editor at 2:00 pm in workplace notes

I worked for a narcissist. It was honestly living hell. It was impossible to have any sort of a life. We had meetings that went on for days without bathroom breaks. We were expected to work nights and weekends. We had to show up at inconvenient events, including Passover, Easter, Christmas, to make our boss looked good. It was clearly the worst job of my life.

At some point, I started researching narcissism and self-preservation and found that if you tolerate narcissism, it may be because you learned to tolerate it and have someone in the family. Let’s not go too deeply into that in a public forum. Needless to say, we all operate within patterns in our lives, often without too much deviation.

In any event, one of the best hints for managing a narcissist is this: R U N.

Seriously.

But in the event that this is not possible for you in the workplace, I’ve found some hints on managing a narcissistic boss from Narcissism in the Workplace:

Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him;

Never offer him any intimacy;

Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on);

Never remind him of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity (”These are the BEST art materials ANY workplace is going to have”, “We get them EXCLUSIVELY”, etc.).

Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgement, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence. Bad sentences start with: “I think you overlooked … made a mistake here … you don’t know … do you know … you were not here yesterday so … you cannot … you should … (perceived as rude imposition, narcissists react very badly to restrictions placed on their freedom) … I (never mention the fact that you are a separate, independent entity, narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves, their internalisation processes were derailed and they did not differentiate properly)…” You get the gist of it.

These are great hints. Is this manipulative? Yes. Is this in the interest of self-preservation? Absolutely. Should you look for a new job? Yes, because you can’t succeed in that kind of environment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Narcissists

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