Ways to Cope with a Problematic Boss and Protect Mental Health

Remember the Details of Their Life Usually, people will understand if you forget their child’s name – but not a narcissist. They will never forgive you… Trista - August 5, 2020
Jot any personal information down that your boss thinks you should remember, so you stay on their good side. Shutterstock

Remember the Details of Their Life

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.

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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.

Don’t tear yourself down like your boss will do to you because you don’t deserve their words, and they’re not true. Shutterstock

Be Extra Kind to Yourself

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.

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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.

Even when you want to disagree with them, find a way to maintain peace because this will help your mental health more than anything else. Shutterstock

Don’t Argue With Them

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.

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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 what, you need to remember that your narcissistic boss will only see what they want to see, and that’s never you succeeding because they view that as a threat. Shutterstock

Don’t Compete With Them Because You Can Never Win

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.

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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.