Dealing with a single narcissist in the workplace is not a big deal. After all, one can handle the attitude of one narcissistic colleague, especially if everyone else has a healthy personality. But when your boss is a narcissist, you have to deal with, things might get complicated.
Working for a narcissistic boss comes with lots of stress and uncomfortable situations. Your boss will always seek to dominate the situation and take credit for all the good things you do. It’s natural to feel frustrated, angry, and vengeful at times. You can’t handle situations with your boss using force; you have to be subtle in your approach.
We have you covered! Because we’re going to give you 6 smooth ways to deal with a narcissistic boss.
Number 6: Educate yourself about narcissistic personality disorder.
A little bit of education is never a waste of time. In the world of the internet, it’s natural to Google everything and seeks answers from people with goodwill who offer valuable information. Learning about narcissism from credible sources is easy nowadays.
While narcissistic personality disorder, in extreme cases, is a complex subject that only professional psychologists can understand, up to a certain extent common folks like us can still learn a thing or two and make use of that wisdom to help us orient ourselves around narcissists, especially when your boss is one of them.
One piece of wisdom about narcissists is that they’re shallow and immature internally, which is why they project their grandiose public image to hide their underlying emptiness and low self-esteem. To a narcissist, pretending like you’re a confident person is the same as being confident, which is what fuels immature behavior.
The constant need for external validation and praise they seek compensates for what they lack on the inside, which is genuine self-worth.
Number 5: Mirror certain characteristics of your narcissistic boss.
Narcissists aren’t all that bad. Some narcissists are quite healthy if you look at their lives from a general perspective. Think of it as if there’s a spectrum, and there are levels that separate a functional narcissist from a pathological one.
In other words, a little bit of narcissism can pass as confidence and charisma, especially if the person has achieved good things in her or his life.
The fact that your boss is a little bit narcissistic might mean that they’ve developed those traits to adapt to their social status. When you look at your boss from this reality, many traits that outrage you about them might look normal, even necessary for a person of their status. So, those traits will take a positive turn in your conscious mind and might be worth mirroring.
Adopting a little bit of self-worth, dominance, charisma, and assertiveness in your interactions might impact your career for the better, which is something that your functionally narcissistic boss might respect in you, especially when you let them know that they’ve inspired you. The trick is to keep your own narcissism at bay and know your limits.
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Number 4: Set limits.
A narcissistic boss might act friendly towards you to gain your trust and consequently take advantage of you in one way or another. They might refer to you as a friend and initiate conversations with you about personal matters just to get your defenses down.
Once the narcissistic boss knows you let your defenses down, they might take advantage of your relationship at your expense. You’ll have to face situations where your friend, who’s also your boss in this case, asks you to do things that only benefit them. That’s why sometimes saying the sacred word NO is necessary.
Setting boundaries with a narcissist starts with saying no to things that only serve to further their narcissistic tendencies and megalomania. The narcissist might show you a bit of fake respect and eventually ignore your refusal to yield to their will, which is why you should stand by your words firmly and insist that you refuse.
Number 3: Learn how to manage your stress around your narcissistic boss.
Managing your stress around the narcissistic boss is the first step to dealing with them. When we’re stressed out, our minds get clouded. We tend to act irrationally, which narcissist uses to their advantage. Narcissists are usually charismatic, which works to their advantage when it’s time to dominate situations. One of the best practices that help us manage stress is deep breathing and being somewhat silent.
When we talk too quickly and breathe too quickly, our bodies turn on the fight or flight response, which raises our blood pressure and makes us feel restless. And when narcissistic boss notices this, they can easily control situations. When you breathe deeply and talk very articulately in short statements, you turn the situation in your favor.
Maintaining eye contact is also one good way to get the upper hand in an interaction with a narcissist. When you show the narcissist a sense of autonomy and self-worth, they respect you because they think you’re just like them, which means you’re also ready to act assertively.
And when you show weakness, the narcissist will try to assert their will upon yours. When you’re assertive, autonomous, and relaxed, the narcissist will leave you alone to do the job you’re hired to do.
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Number 2: Don’t talk about your boss negatively with other colleagues.
Avoid talking negatively about your boss in front of your colleagues because you don’t know who to trust. The narcissist is obsessed with the mask they show to the world. You become a threat to the narcissistic boss’s ego when you see beyond that mask. If you talk negatively about the narcissistic boss and one of the colleagues reports that to them, you should expect some form of vengeance.
Narcissistic bosses are always on the run collecting information about what others say about them. They tend to hold grudges and make enemies. So, you should avoid gossiping about your narcissistic boss if you want to avoid unnecessary trouble.
Number 1: Find other options.
Being confident about your skills as a professional and the ability to find a job easily is something you should foster in yourself. When the narcissistic boss constantly recognizes you as a competent employee that cannot be let go of, you have some sort of authority.
The narcissistic boss cannot afford to let you quit the job, so they’ll often treat you carefully and with respect. When you have other options, you elevate your position from a mere employee to a talent. A talent can find a job easily; a mere employee is expendable and replaceable, which means that the boss has the upper hand.
A narcissistic boss will always remind you that you’re not as important as you think you are and that they’re doing you a favor by giving you a position in their company or business. The only way to counter-effect that situation is by letting the boss know how good you are, and that you’re capable of finding another job whenever you want.
Being an authority in your field can only be shown through good work and competence. Claiming you’re an authority is something completely different. The line that separates arrogance and confidence is very thin. We can only be confident about something if we have the proof to back it up. If you play the game of self-entitlement with a narcissist, you often lose because narcissists are the best at playing that game.
In other words, be careful how you show your narcissistic boss your worth. For example, instead of telling your narcissistic boss that you’re considering other options, tell them instead to consider giving you a raise for your good work.
The underlying message is “I think that with my competencies, I deserve a raise, otherwise I will consider other options that will pay me more than you do.” The narcissistic boss will understand that you know your self-worth and that you’re entitled to more appreciation and respect, in addition to extra money.
If the narcissistic boss tries to negotiate with you, make sure to keep your cards hidden and let them express themselves. Also, always balance your confidence with humility to avoid the trap of becoming a pathological narcissist yourself.
Sometimes, the only way to fight fire is with fire. But with that, we risk burning more than we can handle; that’s why water is always the best strategy to deal with unwanted fire. Being humble doesn’t necessarily mean being submissive. It’s wrong to associate both personality traits.
Read More: 10 Tips to Make the Narcissist Respect You
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