“You’d better get that done at once, or you’ll have no job by the end of the week!” You may have heard the rants of a narcissistic boss before, perhaps more than once. A ballistic employer is not a welcome sight.
If you’re starting to feel uncomfortable when you’re in front of your boss, you may want to know if he or she is a narcissist. Of course, you’ll want to know how to cope in the office.
A Little about Narcissistic Personality Disorder
For those who are not familiar with narcissism, it refers to having an ego so large that it’s frightening. The condition got its name from Narcissus, a Greek youth who fell in love with his reflection in a pond. He became so enraptured by it that he fell into the water and drowned.
Bosses who always make threats like the one above are probably narcissists. You would find them preoccupied with themselves and idealizing their images. They would emphasize their importance and would have no empathy for others. They’ll also react strongly to criticism.
Like most conditions, there are different levels of narcissism. All narcissists have enormous egos, but some have greater ones than others. If your boss’s self-involvement is extreme, he or she may have what psychologists term Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
10 Signs that You Have a Narcissistic Boss
A narcissist has the traits mentioned above and more. But how do they play out at work? How would you know if you have a narcissistic boss?
Do any of these sound like your boss?
1. Insensitive to Employees’ Needs
First of all, narcissistic bosses would ignore the needs of their employees. Since they have little empathy for others, their workers’ worries are the least of their concerns. They treat staff who are ill with a ‘So what?’ attitude. They might ask you to work after office hours or during lunch without proper compensation.
Also, a narcissistic boss would exploit you for his or her gain. Being an employee makes you a handy resource. You would need to do tasks out of your job description and run meaningless errands.
3. Name dropping
Bosses who are narcissists would have the habit of name-dropping. They would remind their employees of the degrees they have or the prestigious schools they have attended. Most of all, they would tell employees how much they need to do to match their achievements.
4. Spotlight hogging
Furthermore, a narcissistic boss would love being the center of attention. He or she would dominate meetings or presentations. Consequently, he or she puts down competitors.
5. Stingy with credit
Narcissistic bosses seldom give employees credit for their work. When they do give praise for achievement, they will mention that it’s due to their leadership. Moreover, they will only do so if you have something to offer them. Failing that, they will use your talents and ignore you.
6. Stealing credit
To speak of credit, many narcissistic bosses take it when it isn’t due. You’ll find them making your ideas their own.
7. Poor ethics
Narcissistic bosses will cut as many corners as they can because they believe that they have special privileges. They will take advantage of systems or people. They may also alter productivity reports or resort to unethical marketing practices.
8. Sensitivity to Criticism
Narcissistic bosses are sensitive to criticism. Negative feedback will rile them up because it threatens their idealized selves. They may also feign indifference or give excuses for not attending to feedback.
9. Failing to treat employees as equals
Another trait common to narcissistic bosses is having a problem treating employees as equals. They will assume that they are better than you in all things because of their titles. Narcissistic bosses will not understand the idea of having to defer to someone else at times.
10. Toxic emotions
Finally, you will find narcissistic bosses arousing negative emotions to gain attention. For example, they will instill fear by losing their temper. Consequently, they throw tantrums when you do not meet their expectations.
Tips for Dealing with a Narcissistic Boss
Working with a narcissist is like being stuck on the top of a malfunctioning roller coaster. The key is managing it. First of all, recognize the narcissism. If you notice the signs mentioned above, you’ll know that you have a narcissistic boss.
Try not to get into heated arguments with him or her. Stay professional, and do not share information that he or she can use against you. And then, set boundaries. Speak up if your boss throws unreasonable insults. You may respect his or her views, but you have yours.
Also, stay guarded. You may behave indiscreetly, sometimes without realizing it. Avoid office gossip. Narcissists are unpredictable, so you’ll never know when your narcissistic manager will pick on your actions.
Narcissistic bosses are quick to pick on errors. Look out for any mistakes in your work, and correct them quickly. Another way to handle narcissistic managers is to speak up tactfully. Massage their egos with some praise before telling them what you think needs improvement.
Finally, have a contingency plan. It’s important to realize that changing a narcissist’s habits is near impossible. Ask the human resource department if you can switch teams. If you think that the time for a job search has come, prepare your portfolio.
In all, if you suspect that you have a narcissistic boss, make certain that he or she is one. Develop coping mechanisms or make the career decision that’s best for you.