Working in presence of a person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be a daunting challenge each day. Every time you leave from office for home, a question might pop in your head- how to survive my narcissistic boss? You’ll find these individuals constantly chasing power and success and behave inconsiderately towards anyone who doesn’t align with the means to reach their goals.
Healthy self-esteem and pride at work can take you places. Angela Grace, a psychologist, explains, “Healthy self-esteem and pride in one’s accomplishments [are] a good thing”. She continues, “However, further along, the spectrum of narcissism can be a sense of exaggerated self-importance, grandiosity to the point of exploitation, and lack of empathy for others”.
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John Mayer, a clinical psychologist, outlined that normally, many individuals think of someone who’s suffering from NPD as “spoiled”. This statement is quite often misused and is referred to wrongly. In order to work with or for someone who’s suffering from NPD, it’s important to first confirm whether they are really the case of narcissism. Often, people take all kinds of toxic personality traits for narcissism, which is nothing less than a psychological sin.
How to tell if your boss is a clinical narcissist?
Bosses who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder will always make a conversation about them regardless of what it is. Did you ever try putting your feelings or point of view across to your boss and he started boasting about himself instead? Elizabeth Pearson explains how narcissistic people want every word to be about themselves, leaving people feeling left out or ignored.
Clinical narcissists would always try to stay at the center of attention, heedless about how others might be reacting around. They can often be spotted narrating stories while with people, the subjects of which can be their bravery, accomplishments, and self-appreciation.
This comes along with a self-righteous image, a feeling that they can be never wrong. Your narcissistic boss will always blame you for any mistake he has committed.
Regardless of who all are around, they will always display temerity to shift their blame on others. With no guilt or regret, you’d find yourself being blamed within a matter of seconds. Sometimes, it’ll be for things you’re clueless about.
By now, you must already be familiar with the fact that it’s very unlikely for such people to live up to the promises they’ve made. Managers suffering from NPD are manipulators who win people’s trust with their stories easily. They’re excellent with creating first impressions as well.
Adding to the longs list of NPD symptoms, your narcissistic boss will always attempt to take credit for things that they haven’t done. Joy Altimare, EHE Health chief engagement officer says, “In the age of mansplaining and man-terrupters, this can seem not as much of an offense. But, this is huge. It’s the number one way to damage one’s career.”
How to survive a narcissistic boss- Do’s and Don’ts
Now that you are sure if you are working with a boss who is a case of NPD, discussed below are a few things you should do and avoid at work if you want to survive your narcissistic boss.
1. As mentioned earlier, it’s essential to educate yourself and research a bit on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This way, you’ll be able to understand what your boss is going through exactly. Laura Dabney says, “An inflated sense of self … is actually a protection people with NPD use to cover up extreme hurt they are embarrassed or feel guilty about.” People with NPD genuinely believe they’re better than others since it’s about their self-esteem.
Therefore, you should try validating your boss whenever you can. Narcissistic people consistently need attention and validation to function. You can try pointing out their strengths and provide positive feedback every now and then.
2. It’ll also be best for you to not expect much from your boss. Keep your expectations minimum as narcissists don’t share their spotlight. The little you expect, the less you’ll be emotionally hurt.
3. Don’t expect your boss to be loyal or play fair. Narcissists are known for their dirty gameplays and taking false credit. They don’t see where they’re going wrong and never felt otherwise. Your boss will always expect you to be loyal but would never offer a shoulder to lean on.
4. Avoid criticizing them no matter what the scenario is. Narcissists will always be the first to bag your credit and blame you. They’re the same people who’d turn a blind eye to any critical feedback you give. Avoid doing so as it’s best to not instigate them.
5. The third thing you’d want to not do is to let your guard down emotionally around your boss. Narcissists are known to only care for themselves and if you share something personal with them, they’re most likely going to use it to hurt you in the future.
It’s best to safeguard your feelings by not sharing them with such individuals. This is crucial for the next thing that you should avoid while working with a narcissist-
6. Avoid taking what your boss says personally. Your narcissistic boss will look for moments where he can project his insecurities on you. Try to not take things personally so that it doesn’t hinder your productivity at workplace.
Four best ways to outsmart your narcissistic boss
If how to survive your narcissistic boss is not your major concern, then here is something more for you. With a few tips, you can actually outsmart you boss who is too full of himself/herself.
1. Just because your boss wants the world to revolve around him, doesn’t mean you’ll have to do it. Looking for ways to outsmart their narcissistic behavior? Always respond to what they say. Respond in the least reactive way and control your impulse reactions of anger or frustration while they do display their characteristics. In case you lose your calm, distance yourself a bit until you’re in control.
2. You’ll need to ensure that you’ve set clear-cut boundaries. While working with someone who can make each moment at work a battle, boundaries often start to fade. You’ll draw the line to tell yourself what is acceptable and what you shouldn’t be taking from others. They’re primarily a form of self-care and are necessary.
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your respect just because your boss has a condition. Don’t let the water flow overboard.
3. Are you tired of listening to your boss’s success stories? Do you feel like there’s no end to them? You’re right to feel so because most of the things they must be sharing are not even true. You should check facts at all times in order to not be deceived by their lies.
4. Lastly, always remain focused on what you find important. It’s impossible to get along with narcissists no matter how much you try. There’ll be several moments where you’ll feel like you are on the edge of giving up. However, think about why you are working with them. Is there a greater purpose to the work that is worth tolerating a boss like that? If yes, then follow the above steps and stick by.
If not, run!