Navigating a narcissist at work can be a formidable challenge.
This comes up a lot for us in coaching. In this blog post, we’re going to share some practical tips to help you preserve and protect your mental well-being while working with a narcissistic boss or a bossy narcissist who’s simply making your work life miserable.
Narcissists are often smart, charismatic, and charming. But they are not always creative. The Narcissistic Workplace Dynamic is easily recognizable when you know what to look for.
And it’s not just what to look for in the workplace or directly with the narcissist. It’s you too! Something within you is providing something that the narcissist wants. It’s called narcissistic supply. It could be as simple as the power high the narcissist gets from ruffling your work feathers or the thrill of seeing you fail. All of it is designed to feed and supply the narcissists self-centered desires. It’s your job to strengthen those parts of you that are vulnerable to narcissists!
Narcissists can cause you to question everything you’ve ever believed about your professional gift, talents and abilities. It can make you feel crazy!
Let us be the first to say, No, you are not crazy and you don’t deserve this! These are our best tips to help you stop the madness.
Raise Your Level of Awareness:
This means that recognizing the signs of a narcissistic boss or team member is crucial. Be attuned to grandiosity, a constant need for attention, trouble with honoring commitments, a lack of transparency, a tendency towards being dishonest and the habit of prioritizing their personal agenda over business goals.
Seeing this and labeling it is the first step toward preserving your sanity.
Trust Your Instincts:
Own what you see. Assume a mindset of confidence. The best metaphor for this mindset is seeing yourself as a seasoned detective. Detectives are accustomed to being refuted and illuded.
Have your own back and trust your instincts when it comes to the narcissist’s lack of transparency and their false accusations. Your intuition is a valuable ally to help you plug the holes of professional doubt that the narcissist loves to create. Narcissists want to see you sweat and keep you guessing. They are intentionally playing whack-a-mole with your reality.
Resist! We repeat. Resist second guessing yourself. You are seeing what you see even if right now, nobody else can see it.
Maintain Your Professional Composure and Stay Calm:
This is the point where we suggest you thank your narcissistic boss.
That’s right. You heard us. Thank them. When you adopt a mindset of gratitude, your brain will open up to finding the goodness and opportunity in the situation. You need that first and foremost What are you learning about leadership, your job, or yourself?
Now, thank the narcissist for helping you to grow big, narcissist beating muscles.
Do not react emotionally to their provocations. Keep working out your mental muscle! Narcissists thrive on emotional reactions, so maintaining a calm and collected demeanor is your best defense.
Adding the super strength of gratitude is a gamechanger!
Establishing Emotional and Physical Boundaries – Create Distance:
Create emotional and, if necessary, physical distance. Stay composed and confident and state what you are willing and unwilling to accept moving forward. Invite a third party to all your narcissist meetings.
Plan for emotionally distancing yourself by sticking to the facts and not engaging when the meeting agenda is not adhered to. Reserve the right to take a timeout from any interaction or meeting that is going in a bad direction. Have some go-to phrases planned in advance to facilitate stepping away. Bring a third party to the meeting when you reengage. Narcissists are showmen that perform so much better when there is audience that is larger than just you.
Document everything: Create Your Sanity-Saving Journal/Narcissist rule book
Keep a Records. Maintain a detailed journal documenting incidents, dates, times, and specifics. This serves as your personal record and provides clarity on the challenges you face. Document the phrases, tactics and strategies that worked best for you. Remember. Narcissists are not creative. You can use the same tactics over and over.
Share project outcomes and updates with everyone on the team as a form of public record and documentation.
Incorporate emotional distancing from the narcissist. Guard your feelings.
Build a Support Network
Don’t go through this journey alone. Share your experiences and emotions with trusted colleagues or mentors who understand the nuances of your workplace dynamics. Look for allies.
Protect Your Professional Castle
This means enforce consequences professionally if your boundaries are breached – think of yourself as the architect of your professional castle.
Report your concerns to HR. Prepare to move on if this can’t be resolved in a way that works for you.
Narcissists are workplace bullies who need to be stopped. If you are concerned about losing your job or retaliation by reporting this, well, then honey, we’re here to tell you your job is already on the line, and you need to take some creative action stat! Go to your support people and put together a plan.
Prioritize Self-Care Strategies
There is no better time to invest in your well-being than when you are in a narcissistic work battle. Engage in activities that bring you joy, spend time with supportive friends outside of the office, and allocate time for professional mindfulness practices.
Prioritizing self-care is essential for preserving your sanity.
Navigating the Corporate Landscape: A Delicate Balance
Preserving your sanity while working with a narcissistic superior requires a delicate balance of the art and skill of managing messy situations. While these tips provide a strategic roadmap for navigating a narcissistic corporate landscape with poise and resilience, sometimes the cost is too high.
Only you can know when the time comes to leave.
No job is more important than your mental well-being.