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Setting Boundaries with a Boss

Hi everyone I’m Mike Staver and this is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question:

Dear Mike, I work for a boss that’s a textbook narcissist. Not a jerk narcissist, but the kind you really like to hang out with outside of work. But at work, I’m telling you, this person is impossible. I’ve worked for this boss for a long time and feel loyal but their behavior is intolerable at work.

How do I remain loyal to my narcissistic boss but still set boundaries?

You know this is a really hard question. Just a little reminder, narcissism is from the myth of Narcissus who walked down the path and into a pond and saw their reflection in that pond. Some people think that Narcissus fell in love with himself, but that’s not true. What Narcissus fell in love with was the reflection of himself. Therefore, if anything disturbed the reflection in the pond Narcissus reacted with rage or shame.

The only way you can work effectively with a narcissistic boss, or a narcissistic human, in general, is to not disrupt the image. Which means sometimes you’re going to have to work at being extraordinarily complimentary, at supporting initiatives (not ones that you don’t agree with), but you’re not going to help narcissists not be narcissistic. So let me give you the most effective way, without turning this into therapy. The most effective way is not to try to change them or believe you ever will. Just accept the fact that they have a tendency to need a world that reflects positively on them and do everything you can to do that. And if you can’t do that, you’re going to have to move on to a different job probably, and then just hang out with them socially.

I’m Mike Staver, hope that was helpful, this is Mondays with Mike. Until next week, take care.

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