Narcissistic Boss or Employer: Coping and Survival Tactics

Uploaded 7/30/2010, approx. 6 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

To a narcissistic boss or employer, the members of his staff, his employees, are sources of narcissistic supply and nothing else. Their role is to remember events that support the grandiose self-image of the narcissist, to regulate the narcissistic supply, to adulate, to adore, to admire, to agree, to affirm, to provide attention and approval, and generally to serve as an audience.

The staff or employees are supposed to remain passive. The narcissist is not interested in anything, but the simplest function of mirroring his grandeur, his achievements, his status.

When the mirror, the employee, acquires a personality and the life of its own, the narcissist is incensed. When independent-minded, an employee is perceived to be a kind of danger, and is in danger of being sacked by his narcissistic employer, an act which demonstrates the employer's omnipotence control over the employee.

The employee's presumption to be the employer's equal is rejected and vehemently and emotionally resented by the employer.

An employee should not try to befriend a narcissistic boss or a narcissistic employer. Friendship is possible only among equals, and to the narcissist, his employees and his staff are his inferiors. They are his property. He loads over them. He is superior to them.

Therefore, how can he be their friend?

Trying to become a narcissistic boss's or employee's friend constitutes an injury to the haughtiness and pride and arrogance of said boss or employer.

The narcissistic boss or employer is willing to accept his employees as underlings, a subordinates, whose very position serves to support his grandiose fantasies, but nothing else, and nothing about.

The grandiosity of a narcissistic boss or employer is precarious and tenuous. It rests on fragile foundations.

Any hint of equality with the employees, any disagreement, any criticism, and even any expression of an unfulfilled need threatens the narcissist profoundly.

The narcissist is exceedingly insecure deep inside. It is easy to destabilize the narcissist's impromptu personality, his false self.

His reactions, however disproportionate and rageful, are merely in self-defense.

Classic narcissistic behavior is when idealization is followed by devaluation.

At first, the narcissistic boss or employer idealizes the new employee. The new employee can do nothing wrong. He is perfect. He is brilliant. He is attuned to the narcissist's needs.

But then devaluation follows as a result of minor disagreements or merely because time has eroded the employee's capacity to serve as a fresh source of attention and narcissistic supply.

The veteran employee is taken for granted by his narcissistic employer and boss. He becomes uninspiring as a source of adulation, admiration, and attention.

The narcissist always seeks new thrills, new stimuli, provided through and via the attention given by new employees.

The narcissist is notorious for his low threshold of resistance to boredom. His behavior is impulsive. His biography is chaotic precisely because of his needs to introduce uncertainty and risk into what he regards as stagnation or slow death.

In other words, routine.

Narcissists abhor routines. Most interactions in the workplace though are part of the rut. They are routine and thus constitute a reminder to the narcissist that he is quote unquote stagnating, shackled, imprisoned, unappreciated, unable to realize his untapped potential.

The routine workplace deflates the narcissist grandiose fantasies.

So narcissists do many unnecessary wrong and even dangerous things in pursuit of restoring and stabilizing their inflated self image.

Narcissists feel suffocated by intimacy or by the constant reminders of real nitty gritty world out there. It reduces them. It makes them realize the gap between their fantasies and reality. It is a threat to the balance of their personality structures, the false self, which is invented and confabulated and concocted and the true self, which is dilapidated and dysfunctional.

So they treat routine and everyone connected to that routine as a menace.

Narcissists forever shift the blame, they pass the buck and they engage in cognitive dissonance. They pathologize the other by projecting on to him or her.

Traits, weaknesses, failures. They foster feelings of guilt and shame in their employees and their subordinates and use this guilt and shame to manipulate them.

They debate and humiliate their stuff in order to preserve their own sense of superiority.

Their pathological liar, they think nothing of confabulating or pathologically telling lies because it is because their very self is false. They are their own confabulation.

So what can you do with an narcissistic boss and employer?

Number one, never disagree with a narcissist or contradict him.

Number two, never offer the narcissist any intimacy.

Number three, look old and inspired by whatever attribute matters to the narcissist.

For instance, if he regards himself to be a professional, pretend that you are downstruck, that you are amazed by his professional achievements. If he considers himself good looking, comment on it repeatedly.

Never remind the narcissist of life out there, of the routine. And if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity. You can aggrandize even ordering office supplies.

The most mundane thing conceivable. You can say for instance, these are the best art material any workplace is going to have, or we get these office supplies exclusively because of you and your connections and so on. Aggrandize the narcissist.

Do not make any comment which might directly or indirectly impinge on the narcissist's self image, omnipotence, superior judgment, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence.

Bad sentences start with, I think you overlooked this and that. I believe you made a mistake here. You don't know that. Do you know that?

Etc, etc.

Or you were not here yesterday. You should not.

These kinds of sentences are interpreted by the narcissist as rude impositions and they react very badly to these injurious restrictions and hints at their lack of omnipotence and lack of omniscience.

Manager of narcissistic goals.

Notice patterns in his bullying. Is he more aggressive on Monday mornings? Is he more open to suggestions on Friday afternoons? Is he unable to flattery? Can you modify his contact by appealing to his morality, superior knowledge, good manners, good looks, cosmopolitanism, or upbringing?

Manipulating the narcissist is the only way you as an employee can survive in such contaminated and tainted workpiece.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissist Has No Friends

Narcissists treat their friends like Watson and Hastings, who are obsequious and unthreatening, and provide them with an adulating gallery. Narcissists cannot empathize or love, and therefore have no real friends. They are interested in securing narcissistic supply from narcissistic supply sources. The narcissist overvalues people when they are judged to be potential sources of supply, and devalues them when no longer able to supply him, ultimately leading to the alienation and distancing of people.

Recluse Narcissist

Narcissists do not have friends in the usual sense of the word, as they are only interested in securing the provision of narcissistic supply from others. They overvalue people when they are judged to be potential sources of supply, but discard them nonchalantly when they are no longer able or willing to supply them. The narcissist's behavior, choices, acts, attitudes, beliefs, interests, and life are curtailed by their sensitivity to outside opinion, and they avoid situations where they are likely to encounter opposition, criticism, or competition. The fear of flying is at the heart of narcissism.

Narcissist Re-idealizes Discarded Sources of Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists keep discarded sources of supply in reserve and seek them out when they have no other supply source. They frantically try to recycle their old sources and re-idealize them without admitting to having been mistaken in the first place. To preserve their grandiosity, they come up with a narrative that accommodates both the devaluing content and the re-idealized image of the source. If you are an old source of narcissistic supply, simply ignore the narcissist as indifference is what they cannot stand.

Communal, Prosocial Narcissist as Compulsive Giver

Compulsive givers are a type of narcissist who feel superior to those they give to, and feel exploited when they have to pay for the needs of others. They are people pleasers and co-dependents who force themselves on others and have unrealistic expectations of gratitude. They have alloplastic defenses with an external locus of control, meaning they rely on others to regulate their self-worth and blame the world for their failures. They keep a mental ledger of what they give and receive and use false asceticism and fake modesty to prove their nearest and dearest are ingrates.

Negative, Fake, Low-grade Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists crave attention, both positive and negative, and use it to regulate their sense of self-worth. They construct a false self and project it onto others to elicit admiration, adulation, and fear. Negative supply can become narcissistic supply when positive supply is scarce. Narcissists also crave punishment, which confirms their view of themselves as worthless and relieves them of the inner conflict they endure when they are successful.

Narcissist Hates Happy People and Holidays

Holidays and birthdays are a difficult time for narcissists, as they provoke a stream of pathological envy. The narcissist is jealous of others for having a family, being able to celebrate lavishly, or being in the right mood. They hate humans because they are unable to be one and want to spoil it for those who can enjoy. Holidays remind the narcissist of their childhood, the supportive and loving family they never had, and what could have been.

Issues in Narcissistic Supply

Narcissists devalue their sources of supply for the very qualities that make them sources of supply in the first place. The narcissist resents his dependency on narcissistic supply and perceives intimacy and sex as a threat to his uniqueness. Narcissistic supply includes all forms of attention, both positive and negative, fame, notoriety, adulation, fear, applause, approval. Narcissists frantically try to recycle their old and wasted sources when they have absolutely no other sources of supply at their disposal.

Narcissist Hates His Fans, Followers, and Admirers

Narcissists depend on their followers for narcissistic supply but resent their addictive dependence and hold their followers in contempt. They see themselves as beyond human comprehension and refuse to grant anyone special privileges. The narcissist demands complete obedience from their followers and punishes those who stray. Cult leaders are often narcissists who failed to become famous and impress the world with their uniqueness, and they resent their followers for witnessing their fraudulence and failure.

Narcissistic vs. Sadistic Supply

There are two types of supply that narcissists consume in order to regulate their internal environment: narcissistic and sadistic. Sadistic supply is a form of empowerment that caters to a highly specific type of grandiosity. Sadists are people who derive pleasure from the pain, discomfort, and humiliation of others. However, narcissists generally only seek narcissistic supply and are unlikely to engage in sadistic behaviors. Borderlines alternate between these two types of supply, depending on their self-state.

Narcissist Grooms Sources of Narcissistic Supply: Exploits Tragedy, Crisis, and Misfortune

Narcissists are callous and ruthless enough to exploit the tragedy of others. They are obsessed with the maintenance of their delicate inner balance through the ever-increasing consumption of narcissistic supply. The narcissist regards and treats his sources of narcissistic supply as full-fledged human beings, but only as long as they can provide him with what he needs. The narcissist always evaluates the victims of tragedies to see if they can become sources of supply or can be used as props in the theater of his life.

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