Coping with a narcissistic boss.

Whether your boss is a full blown narcissist or just someone with weak or even terrible people skills, they can have a profound effect on your wellbeing. If you have any trauma history or had a highly authoritative parent, a narcissistic boss can be seriously damaging to your self confidence and even your quality of life. In short, they can really throw you off. The overt narcissist might shout, openly boast, throw rants, criticize employees in front of others, cross boundaries, or blame others for their mistakes. The covert narcissist will make you feel small and incompetent, overlooking your accomplishments and often wanting you to make them look good but never being supportive of your work needs.

So, other than quitting and finding another job, what can you do about it? When it comes to coping with narcissistic people, it’s really important to be able to stand back and observe. In fact, one expert, Ross Rosenberg, says, observe don’t absorb. This is important advice that can save your sanity. Because the narcissist will find ways to blame you for things that go wrong and accuse you of poor performance, even to cover their own blunders. Usually though, they do this to elevate themselves and to assert their power and control over others. A classic manipulation of the narcissist is to tell you that other workers have complained about you. Putting you down, making you feel small or useless is their warped way of feeling bigger, stronger, and more important. Focus on knowing your job description and doing your job well instead of pleasing the boss. If you are hoping to relocate, try to get a referral from a more senior colleague. Although your boss will have his say, good working relationships with other co-workers will help.

Standing back and not taking their comments to heart, is really important in moments when you feel defeated. And don’t let your self-critic get triggered of you can help it. Have a positive voice in your head that is encouraging and helps you get through your day. Unless something shows up on your job performance it is important to stand back and not let the narcissist get under your skin. In fact, often the narcissist will deny ever saying anything negative about you when it comes time for evaluation. This gaslighting is a clear sign that you’re dealing with a narcissist.

Limiting interactions with a boss like this. Knowing the boss desperately wants and needs praise can help you manage some situations but having firm boundaries will help you keep your dignity and your sanity. A thorough job description will help you hold your boundaries. Knowing the narcissist will never be satisfied, make it clear to the boss that you are keen to meet the demands of your job as they are detailed in your job description.

Although they might love you one minute and be verbally abusive the next, that is not about you it is about them. Nothing you ever do will be good enough for the narcissist. So it will be important to meet your own standards on the job. Do your best, and set boundaries that fit with your own values. Be your best self, do your best, work well with colleagues and then have a life outside of work so you can stay grounded. If you catch yourself getting buried by the negativity of the narcissist find another job. Life is short. We all deserve happiness.

If you are struggling with coping, you may need a good friend to listen or even a therapist who can help you figure out what specific strategies will help you the most.