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  • Lynn Catalano

How do narcissists manifest at work?

Toxic Leaders & Toxic Coworkers

How does a narcissist present themselves at work? Narcissists often manifest as toxic leaders and toxic coworkers in the work culture. They exhibit the same characteristics as traditional narcissists with subtle differences. Narcissists as toxic bosses demonstrate specific characteristics intended to make employees miserable. They need everyone to be on edge all the time, uncomfortable in their position, with little job security. Toxic bosses pride themselves on their omnipotence and reign of terror. They’re inconsistent, incapable of giving positive reinforcement, and incorrigible.

I wrote about this in my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live with Or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”

“Narcissists don’t usually understand the impact they have on others, as they are very self-unaware. Narcissists can absolutely wreak havoc on an office or organization.

Narcissists need to work on managing their emotions and their anger. They feel everyone else is stupid. Once people accept they’re flawed just like everyone else, then a narcissist can become less defensive. We all have flaws and strengths. When narcissists finally understand they’re doing things in a way that most people find offensive, they may realize they have to fix their behavior. An intervention may help them understand how they impact others.”

If you stay, how do you cope?

If you can leave this toxic employment relationship, you should do it for your own sake. So, if you’re in a position where you can find another place to work, go. Cut and run. However, leaving the company may not be an option. If that’s the case for you, it is important to develop some coping mechanisms to limit the effects on your mental


If you stay, you’ll need to:

1. Change your perspective.

Accept the fact we cannot change other people; however, we can change ourselves. Show your high level of emotional intelligence by being the change you want to see in the organization. Become empowered by the knowledge your toxic boss’s bad behavior is rooted in deep insecurity and change your perspective. Do your best not to take their words and actions personally.

2. Alter your approach.

Accept that each toxic, narcissistic boss has their own communication style. Stop trying to challenge it. Embrace it. The more you learn about their communication preference, the better you’ll be able to adapt and have more effective, efficient conversations.

3. Know that you can’t always get what you want, but you might discover you can get what you need.

Be strong enough to know you may not receive the credit you deserve or the positive praise for your exceptional work with this type of leader. Develop the strong inner resources essential to continue. Be confident in yourself and know it doesn’t always matter if your boss takes all the credit for your job or doesn’t give you one iota of praise. Focus on helping the organization.

“The smarter you become about your narcissistic boss,

the less power your boss will have.”


You can find my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships” on Amazon and

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