You may have seen some confronting behaviour in your workplace and wondered whether its driven by narcissism. The most classic and obvious signs of a narcissistic boss are those who scream, berate their employees, make unreasonable demands, doesn’t pay them enough, and are just abusive and awful.
Narcissistic bosses can also love bomb by saying things like “you’re the best”, “you’re the greatest”, and then before you know it, there is a new anointed person and you’ve been forgotten or dismissed.
They’ve also been known to overpay their employees and buy their loyalty - and once they do that, it makes it really hard for people to leave because they’re "making so much money and get all these perks" however, they’re suffering in a toxic workplace and there is a point at which a person says “there is not enough money in the world to make this worth it.
They’re also really good at creating chaos in the workplace, i.e. some people are on the inside, and some are on the outside. There is a lot of infighting and backstabbing. It’s kind of exciting yet perverse and dark when you’re in it but it definitely becomes all-absorbing.
Those chaotic narcissistic workplaces are similar to narcissistic family scapegoats and golden child, and triangulation - trying to fight for position. Narcissistic leaders love chaos because it gives them more power, as they are very power-hungry.
They are also deeply invalidating. You’re not noticed for what you do and the quality of your work, but for other toxic things, like who is the most charismatic, and charming, and who can play the game best.
Sometimes your boss may be great, but you may have a narcissistic co-worker who can put on an act in front of the boss where their toxic behaviour can go unseen and reports of such behaviour can be disregarded.
They can spread gossip and rumours, steal your ideas and pitch them as their own. They can be equally toxic as a narcissistic boss. Therefore, the same rules of “self-protection” apply when dealing with either of them.
It’s tough because it’s likely that your boss will outlast you unless they make a huge mistake and they’re removed from their position in the workplace. However, some of the things you can do while you’re still working in such an environment are:
They may not be your champion even though they may have seduced you to think that’s going to be the case. You almost have to wait for the disappointment that when that promotion comes up, you’re going to be overlooked, and that can be devastating for some people.
The key issue is that people have to remember that sometimes these narcissistic workplace situations can escalate to the point where you need to go to HR. You can’t do a thing unless you have documentation. Every time you start a new job, assume the worst is going to happen.
Save every email, save everything that’s in writing, put things in writing, document meetings; because that’s all you’re going to have if all of this falls apart.
If you go to HR and say my boss is a narcissist, they can’t do anything if there is no documentation. But if you have documentation and show them the toxic emails and abusive text messages, or call log of calls you received in the middle of the night one after the other, HR may be able to do something about it.
Keep physical copies of these emails if you can. Documentation may not just be to lodge a complaint, or a grievance with HR. It may simply be because you need time-stamped evidence that an idea was yours.
Try not to be alone anywhere with the narcissistic boss because they’re always going to do their dark arts when they can’t be spotted.
Engage in self-care, monitor your sleep, and seek counselling from a professional, because being in narcissistic relationships can have an enormous effect on your mental health, which can sometimes even affect your physical health. Another part of self-care is to remain socially connected with supportive family members or friends.