Working a 9-5 is challenging enough as it is. What else could make it worse? Well certainly, dealing with an employee, coworker, or boss with narcissistic tendencies. When narcissism poses a threat to the unity and civility of a working environment, one must be prepared to point out and handle any vermin that could be slowly eating through their company’s walls.
How to tolerate a narcissistic boss
Do you ever feel that your boss purposely exerts their authority over you to make you feel small? Do they often place unrealistic expectations on you, nitpick at the things you do wrong, or take every possible action to dim your light so that you don’t outshine them?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, your boss is probably a narcissist. They’re usually full of themselves, only care about their own goals and recognition, and believe that they are a “destined” leader who is well within their rights to abuse power.
With a textbook case of grandiose narcissism, he or she is going to be more inclined towards individuals who feed their ego. Any compliments, gifts, or words of appreciation can land fellow workers in their favor.
Unless you’re willing to kiss some proverbial butt to stay on their good side, there are necessary measures you’ll need to take to maintain your sanity in their presence.
The first step in handling a narcissistic boss is setting clear boundaries. You shouldn’t feel obligated to immediately drop what you’re doing every time they have a request, or work countless hours of overtime to do your job effectively.
Draw a hard line in the sand with your boss to make it clear that you’re not a pushover, and that you’re not going to allow him or her to treat you like a doormat. Let it be known that you mean business.
At any rate, it is important that you’re aware of any narcissistic traits your boss might have, so you can report them to their superiors if need be. Although you’re an employee, you have every right to stand up for yourself when you think that your boss is too hard on you.
Working Side-by-Side with a Narcissistic Coworker
Be careful with coworkers like this. They are not to be trusted. Narcissistic coworkers go to extreme lengths to maintain their positive appearance in the workplace; uttering lies, using deceit, and making up rumors against other coworkers to make themselves look good.
Most have a reputation of being “the rat” of the office, going as far as to leak staff secrets to the higher-ups. They’ll also do whatever it takes to keep the heat off them in times of pressure.
The other toxic trait that you must watch out for in a narcissistic coworker is the fact that they love to win and hate to lose. Any praise, accolades, or promotions that you receive, they’re not going to be happy about it because they’re going to want it for themselves. As a result, these coworkers tend to exhibit jealousy and rage at the promotion or success of another coworker.
If you work alongside a narcissist and you find yourself constantly being antagonized by them, the first thing you’ll want to do is report their behavior to your boss and HR. It’s better to have an eyewitness or two nearby to back your claims.
Secondly, avoid physical contact and verbal exchanges with them unless they are necessary. Keep face-to-face interaction to a minimum and primarily communicate with them via email.
Try not to let your emotions get the best of you as a result of their antics. As soon as you take the bait and give them the reaction that they want, they may try to use it against you to get you into trouble. Don’t allow them to turn you into the bad guy with their false sense of victimhood.
Tips for managing a narcissistic employee
The employee who has an inability to accept constructive criticism, doesn’t shy away from using manipulative tactics to get what they want, or who exhibits arrogance and extreme focus on a fantasized image of self has either been exposed to a toxic work setting early in their career, or was a product of a traumatic environment growing up.
If you are the manager of a narcissistic employee, consider adopting a mindful approach to leading them. Do so gently and always within your company’s values and culture.
Some bosses consider them to be their worst kind of employees (unless, of course, they themselves are narcissists), but with patience and understanding, you’ll find it easier to work with them.
Don’t let the narcissist throw you off your A-game
Workplace narcissism is real. Whether you’re an employee or an employer, these tips and techniques may prove to be useful for you when working alongside a narcissistic professional. Take heed to these insights so that you can properly distinguish their behavior and minimize the effects of their toxicity towards you, and towards others at your place of work.
Do you have a narcissist in your family? Read this.
Is your partner a narcissist? Read this.