Do you love yourself? Everyone does, but people who only love themselves become unbearable narcissists.
Narcissistic abuse can ruin even the best of days. Whether you’re dealing with a narcissistic boss or coworker, they can make your day feel unbearable.
Worry not, because there are ways to cope and deal with narcissistic abuse, as we’ll see below.
But first, let’s discuss what a narcissist is.
What is a Narcissist?
Simply put, a narcissist is a person who is so in love with himself that he cannot love anyone else. It may sound far-fetched until you meet a narcissist for the first time in your life, but they are real, and they can make the life of people around them miserable.
Narcissism is actually classified as a disorder, the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. People afflicted with narcissism have a total lack of empathy, combined with an inflated sense of self-importance.
Here are the main signs to look for in order to tell if your boss or coworker are narcissists:
- Unrealistic expectations
- Pure arrogance
- Delusions of grandeur and fantasies of success, beauty, and intelligence
- Demanding constant attention and reaffirmation
- Abuses and habitually takes advantage of others
- Complete disregard for the feelings of others
- Burning envy if someone else does something better
- Tantrums if things don’t go as they wanted
Is your boss or coworker doing one or more of the above? Then you’ve got a narcissist to deal with!
Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse
So, your boss abuses everyone, demands attention, is unfair and throws tantrums if his unrealistic plans are not met? Maybe your coworker sees everything as a competition and tries to belittle you every day, touting his own imaginary advantages to everyone?
The main problem when trying to reason with a narcissist is that they can be extremely defensive, ignorant of their own problem and near-impervious to reason.
Well, all is not lost. Read on for ways to cope with narcissistic abuse.
1) Make Them Realize Their Inappropriate Behavior
If your boss or colleague are not cooperating due to some narcissistic abuse they’ve been brewing, you don’t want to anger them further. Instead, you need to show them how silly they appear!
A viable solution is to patiently appeal to the narcissist’s best nature. Instead of being confrontational and argumentative (both will fuel your boss’s narcissistic abuse), try to appeal to their reason and especially the fact that they might be belittling themselves with such behavior.
By approaching narcissistic abuse in polite and constructive confrontation, you might be able to show your narcissistic boss that they appear selfish and immature by acting the way they do, and you will encourage them to engage in some much needed self-reflection.
2) Get them Back in Line
Now, if narcissistic behavior includes changing plans or interrupting normal business operations to cater to the narcissist’s demands, you should look into talking to your superiors about it. If your coworker is taking whole projects off-course for their own selfish reasons, your boss needs to know about it ASAP!
However, if your boss himself is the root cause of the problem, then things get more complicated as you can’t rely on ‘leadership intervention.’ What you can still rely on is giving the narcissist some outside perspective and showing them the error of their ways. If they refuse to listen to you, get a colleague or another person the narcissist might respect (hard to find, I know) to tell them what’s going on.
3) Take Care of Yourself
If you’re experiencing workplace narcissistic abuse, it’s important to keep your self-esteem high and not get wiped out by the narcissist’s unrealistic demands. Working with or working for a narcissist can be very stressful. You must find effective outlets that boost your self-confidence and make your day more tolerable.
Above all, remember that a narcissist doesn’t care about other people, so you should not emotionally invest in them unless they radically change their ways. Find a way to feel worthwhile that is not related to the narcissist’s views, which are skewed and only serve their own self-fulfilling fantasies.
4) Find a Balance
Some narcissists might have good intentions that are drowned in their self-love and self-admiration. If that’s the case with your boss and coworker, perhaps you can find a balance and stop the abuse by creatively stroking their ego, or at least not challenging their unrealistic beliefs head-on.
Restrained and factual compliments can work wonders with a narcissist. You can get them off your back just by stating the obvious. Even simple statements like: “Wow, you’re always on time”, or “You sure know how to brew some good coffee” can really turn a narcissist 180 degrees and make them your friends… at least until their next self-admiring problem arises.
5) Focus on Your Job
It’s generally a great idea to keep your head down and focus only on your work if your workplace has one or more narcissists running around. Do only what you’re supposed to be doing, even if it means doing less for the company. That way, your boss will have fewer things to pin on you when engaging in his usual narcissistic abuse.
If you don’t feed the narcissist, he might eventually drift away and stop abusing you. Also, it’s very important to refrain from gossiping about the narcissist. Just don’t do it, as it will give them an excuse to create drama in order to get everyone’s attention.
6) Document Conversations and Work Decisions
Narcissists will often ‘forget’ things or see the world through a warped lens if it suits their needs. For that reason, it’s important to keep tabs on everything discussed with your narcissistic boss or coworker, so you can bring them back to reality.
Combining this with careful wording can work wonders. If your boss is contradicting himself, kindly remind him of what he asked you by sending him his previous email, or say, “According to what we discussed before, you need me to do XYZ, as you said in the email I am forwarding. Are we good to go still?”
7) Striking Back
Finally, if your boss’s narcissistic abuse crosses the line, you can consider filing lawsuits against them. Just be advised that they might do the same, as malicious prosecution is not at all uncommon for narcissists who feel threatened.
If the worst comes to pass, perhaps it’s best just to look elsewhere for a job. There will always be new job opportunities and working without any narcissists pestering you can be liberating!