Your boss has a certain way they want to be treated, and they’re not shy to let you know how this is. Of course, you want to make sure that you don’t let them walk all over you. So, you don’t need to run to get them a hot coffee cup every morning, but you should note how they represent themself in front of other people.
If they act like they’re a high roller when you need to suggest meeting at a place people view as a high-end place, such as a fancy restaurant. The more you make an effort to see them as they want people to see them, the easier your workday will go.
There are many things that’s important to your boss, even if it doesn’t make sense. Some things should be necessary, but they don’t seem to care about it. When it comes to this, you need to go with the flow and follow what they feel strongly about.
There will be particular tasks that they want you to do perfectly. They might say something like, “This needs to be great or else…” It’s the “or else” or a similar statement that can teach you what you need to focus on and what you don’t. When you know you need to do something exceptionally well, excel at it. Put everything you have into it.
Narcissists will make up “facts” on the spot. They will try to convince everyone that what they know is true, even if you can Google it or look in the reports and see that they’re wrong. You don’t need to call them out on their falsehood, but you should always double-check the facts they tell you.
Look back in the reports or complete research in one way or another. You can always email or text a coworker to see if they know the truth, but be careful not to let your boss know you’re questioning them as this can make them irritable and make your work life worse. It can also cause them to go on an angry rampage, which can cause people to work on eggshells for days or weeks because a narcissist doesn’t forget or forgive.
You’re not the only one who realizes that the boss is a narcissist. Chances are nearly everyone in your office knows or has some idea. Therefore, when you take the blame, they know that you’re not really to blame. They probably know who is but also realize it’s best to let the supervisor say what they say.
When these moments come, just take a deep breath and let them come. You don’t need to agree or apologize unless you know it’ll cool them down. When it’s all over, take a moment to collect yourself and then spend extra time to take care of your mental health by doing something you love or just be alone.
Usually, people will understand if you forget their child’s name – but not a narcissist. They will never forgive you and will continue to hold it above your head. They can use it against you later if they want. Therefore, do what you need to do to write down any details about their life that you feel you need to remember.
You don’t need to memorize them, but you might want to keep the note handy, so you can quickly look at the information when it pops up. It might also be a good idea to review the information before you need to meet with your boss because you never know what they will say and when.
It’s hard to be a punching bag for someone continually. It’s harder not to let them tear you down, which is exactly what a narcissist will do. While it’s best just to let them do what they do, this doesn’t mean you need to treat yourself the same way.
When they’re hard on you, be extra kind to yourself. Take a little more time in the evening and morning for self-care. Take breaks when you need a moment to yourself, practice positive self-talk, stay late or come in early when your boss isn’t there, get work done, and re-group with coworkers when without your boss.
You will want to argue. There will be days when you feel like you’re biting your tongue until it starts to bleed, but it’s important not to start a verbal disagreement because you won’t win. Even if you’re right and you have other people backing you, the narcissist always needs to win – at least in their mind.
The only step you’ll take when you argue with them is possibly losing your job (which might not be bad) or putting a target on your back. They will spend their workday making your day miserable for as long as they want or until they find another person to pick on.
No matter how well you can do their job, you will never be better in their mind. You need to stop wanting to compete with them or telling yourself that you’re better for the position (even if you are). Instead, you need to focus on the job you need to do and complete your responsibilities as well as possible.
In a sense, when you’re in front of your narcissistic boss, you need to tap yourself down and work around their worldview. When you’re not in their presence, you need to build yourself up to where you deserve to stand. Remember, even when you do your job perfectly well, they will still find fault because that is what they want to see. It helps them feel on top, and the only thing you’ll do by trying to argue against them is becoming their punching bag.
“The Dos and Don’ts of Working for a Narcissist Boss: Here’s your guide to what works and what doesn’t.” Julie L. Hall, Psychology Today. January 2020.
“Surviving a Narcissistic Boss or Toxic Work Environment.” Jan Hoistad, Choice Point Solutions.
“5 hidden signs your boss is a narcissist—and how to trick them into liking you.” Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CNBC. March 2019.
“How to Work for a Narcissistic Boss.” Rebecca Knight, Harvard Business Review. April 2016.
“Helpful Tips For Dealing with a Narcissistic Boss.” Susan Price, Ivy Exec.
“6 Ways to Deal With Your Narcissistic Boss.” Samantha Rodman, Talk Space. December 2017.
“10 Powerful Ways to Deal With Your Narcissistic Boss: The smarter you become about your narcissistic boss, the less power your boss will have.” Lolly Daskal, Inc.