Have you ever tried talking to your manager about a project, only to have her cut you off to tell you about the award she won years ago? Do meetings feel like a one-man show starring your boss? Does she constantly try to one-up you and your colleagues?
If so, you’ve probably got a narcissist on your hands — and they’re not the easiest people the work with.
“Working for a narcissistic boss is like riding a wild rollercoaster while being blindfolded,” says Teri Hockett, CEO of What’s For Work?, a career site for women. “You can be the golden child one moment and the next you are receiving all the blame.”
A true narcissist, she says, has no concept of taking responsibility for anything negative, and will constantly “undercut anyone who challenges or does not respond to them in the manner that they deem deserving.”
Deborah Shane, a career expert and author of “Career Transition“, concurs. “Working for a narcissist can be difficult because they typically make things about them. Just about everything and everyone they engage and interact with needs to make them look good and feel good.”
She says their egos also get in the way of teamwork, culture, and camaraderie. “Narcissists can fracture and divide a workplace, rather than unify and strengthen it.”
Think you might be working for a narcissistic boss? Here are seven tips for dealing with them:
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Recognize their narcissistic traits.
The quicker you can identify their narcissistic traits, the easier it will be to mitigate the damage, Hockett says.
A few signs you’re dealing with a narcissistic boss: They require excessive admiration, lack empathy, speak more than they listen, externalize blame and never take responsibility for their own mistakes, enjoy telling others what to do, and never want to be challenged, just to name a few.
Keep your distance.
Try not to become emotionally engaged with your narcissistic boss. “Be professional, congenial, yet guarded,” Hockett says. “It sounds like quite a conundrum; but it’s imperative that you do not share too much personal information that can potentially be used against you.”
Decide what are and are not acceptable ways to be treated by your boss, and have the courage to speak up when the line is crossed, Shane says. Try saying: “The way you spoke to me was unnecessary and hurt my feelings,” or, “I respect your point of view, but I have one, too,” she suggests.