How to Deal With a Narcissistic Boss or Coworker

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August 15, 2018
Author: Lorman Education

Working with a narcissistic boss or coworker is probably one of the most miserable experiences anyone can go through. Terrible bosses and coworkers cause employees to work less, have worse work-life balances, and make them more likely to quit. Some workers feel like they cannot leave their job because they can't find another employer and need a way to pay their bills on time. For these unlucky people, working for an egotistical boss seems like they only choice they have. Fortunately, there are some ways to deal with such a person. Here are 6 quick suggestions:

  1. Know the signs of narcissism. There are several signs that someone may or may be a narcissist. Do your research and compare those signs to your boss's or coworker's behaviors. Note that having one or more of those behaviors does not automatically make one a narcissist, but they do give a few clues are to whether or not one is a narcissist.

  2. Set up boundaries. Know how much you are willing to take from someone and have a constructive method of communicating this. Respect is often earned when even the most narcissistic co-workers know their boundaries. Know your boundaries as well. Your boss, in many cases, has earned that position and respect both goes ways. If you cannot simply work with this boss, ask for a transfer or find a new place of employment. You are not a punching bag, your role within a company is also important.

  3. Give careful criticism. Don't attempt to challenge the narcissist directly, as it may result in some unfavorable consequences. Instead, try giving them constructive criticism in private setting and ask for a communication line that helps you both achieve the results you want. This technique lets them know that you are trying to advise how to keep your communication relationship open and trusting while letting them still be the boss.
  1. Don't gossip. It can be tempting to spread gossip around the workplace about your unlikeable boss or coworker, but always avoid that. Words easily make their rounds around the workplace, and it won't take long for the boss to catch on. It will come back on you, it always does. Gossip in the work setting is never a great idea, period.

  2. Don't give bad news in a group setting. Narcissists don't take bad news particularly well. Giving them a dose of bad news in a public setting will cause a feeling of throwing them under the bus. Instead, use a private setting to deliver the negative information. You would be surprised how much respect you earn by allowing your boss to digest bad news without having to deal with others immediately.
  1. Be prepared to accept the blame. Narcissists are always looking to blame someone other than themselves. The responsibility may fall on you, your peers, or anyone else in your company. Accepting blame for something you haven’t done. Your career is just as important as everyone else’s. Have a plan in place when the moment comes, who do you go to in situations like this? Document your work as much as you can.


Dealing with a narcissistic boss or coworker can be one of the most unpleasant experiences imaginable. You'll dread coming into work every day when you know that you may have to face a mean and nasty supervisor or coworker. It doesn’t have to be that way. Respect can be a two way street if communication lines are open and perspective

For more information or continuing education courses, visit Lorman Education Services at You will find thousands of courses available on many different topics. 

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