Dealing with a Narcissistic Boss or Coworker

by Lorman Education Services

iaap-narcissistic-boss

Working with a narcissistic boss or coworker is probably one of the most miserable experiences anyone can go through in their professional life. Terrible bosses and coworkers cause employees to work less, have worse work-life balances, and make them more likely to quit. Some workers feel like they cannot leave their job because they can’t find another employer and need a way to pay their bills on time. For these unlucky people, working for an egotistical boss seems like the only choice they have. Fortunately, there are some ways to deal with such a person. Here are 6 quick suggestions:

Know the signs of narcissism

There are several signs that someone may or may be a narcissist. Do your research and compare those signs to your boss’s or coworker’s behaviors. Note that having one or more of those behaviors does not automatically make one a narcissist, but they do give a few clues are to whether or not one is a narcissist.

Set up boundaries

Know how much you are willing to take from someone and have a constructive method of communicating this. Respect is often earned when even the most narcissistic coworkers know their boundaries. Know your boundaries as well. Your boss, in many cases, has earned that position, and respect goes both ways. If you simply cannot work with this boss, ask for a transfer or find a new place of employment. You are not a punching bag, your role within a company is also important.

Give careful criticism

Don’t attempt to challenge the narcissist directly, it might result in some unfavorable consequences. Instead, try giving them constructive criticism in a private setting and ask for a communication line that helps you both achieve the results you want. This technique lets them know that you are trying to advise how to keep your communication relationship open and trusting while letting them still be the boss.

Don’t gossip

It can be tempting to spread gossip around the workplace about your unlikeable boss or coworker, but always avoid that. Words easily make their rounds around the workplace and it won’t take long for the boss to catch on. It will come back on you, it always does. Gossip in a work setting is never a great idea, period.

Don’t give bad news in a group setting

Narcissists don’t take bad news particularly well. Giving them a dose of bad news in a public setting will cause a feeling of throwing them under the bus. Instead, use a private setting to deliver the negative information. You would be surprised how much respect you earn by allowing your boss to digest bad news without having to deal with others immediately.

Be prepared for scapegoating

Narcissists are always looking to blame someone other than themselves. That blame might fall on you, your peers, or anyone else in your company and you should be prepared. Your career is just as important as everyone else’s. Have a plan in place when the moment comes, who do you go to in situations like this? Document your work as much as you can.

Dealing with a narcissistic boss or coworker can be one of the most unpleasant experiences imaginable. You’ll dread coming into work every day when you know that you may have to face a mean and nasty supervisor or coworker. It doesn’t have to be that way. Respect can be a two-way street if communication lines remain open perspective.


IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event.


For more information or continuing education courses, visit Lorman Education Services at www.lorman.com. You will find thousands of courses available on many different topics. Visit us on Social Media: www.facebook.com/LormanEducationServices

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