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  • Lynn Catalano

How to Survive a workplace narcissist

Last week, I explored my 10 Signs You Work for a Narcissist.

Now you’ve recognized that this is your situation. I always share that 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 well-being. As Inc. stated “The smarter you become about your narcissistic boss, the less power your boss will have.”


If you stay, how do you cope?


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. When a boss micromanages you, focus on the task. If you choose to stay, then you do the job to the best of your ability, no matter what.


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. When a boss texts and emails in the evening or on weekends, establish boundaries. Answer them at an appropriate time. You can’t control other people, but you can control whether you react or respond to them. Respond in a respectful, positive, professional manner.



3.    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.


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

“During my career, I’ve been part of different committees that reviewed job candidates for financial investing and accounting. I’ve seen many presentations and reviewed them by committee. I’ve witnessed memorable presentations and some less than memorable. Soon after Don began, requests for proposals for our accounting work were sent out. After sitting through three presentations, it was abundantly clear which firm stood out. One firm brought four people to present. One was the clear spokesperson, but each had a role to play in the presentation. They worked well together as a team and offered that camaraderie as a benefit to any organization. After all the prospective accounting firms departed, our committee discussed the presentations. It was obvious this one firm outshined the competition.

Days after this committee meeting and decision, I shared the story with Don, even though he was present at the interviews. My purpose was to show him what a great team looks like. I genuinely wanted to present a united front to the board and our donors. I told Don this was the team I felt we should emulate. After I explained my case, he responded he didn’t see that in the accounting firm’s presentation at all. He told me he didn’t see the teamwork I described. I was speechless. What do you say?  How do you move forward?  Of course, he didn’t want to be a team. As a narcissist, Don wanted and needed to be the star.”

I recognized Don was a narcissist and a toxic boss. I realized if I was going to stay I’d have to adopt the 3 strategies in this blog to survive.

Having a narcissistic boss is not a rite of passage. You did nothing to deserve this abuse.   

A toxic workplace affects your mental, emotional, and physical health. A narcissistic boss sets you back in your career. If you don’t address it, it can bleed into all aspects of your life. It can take years to recover from a toxic work environment. Narcissistic bosses wear down your self-esteem and cause constant stress and anxiety.


I help people every day. I can help you.


If you’ve worked for a narcissistic toxic boss, it’s critical for you to talk to someone. However, it’s important to talk to someone who gets it. I believe that in this particular form of abuse, it’s best to talk to someone who’s had a similar experience. I have experienced this insidious emotional abuse.


You see, I didn’t get here by accident. I didn't set out to become a narcissistic abuse recovery coach. But after I’d suffered this kind of abuse, I realized that my story and my experience could help so many people who’ve suffered similarly. 


Often, we stay in these cycles of abuse because we don’t believe we deserve something better. I kept trying to make our relationship work, but he didn’t want me in his life. It took me a long time to understand that I deserved better.


You deserve better, too.


If you’re ready to change how you think,

If you’re ready to change how you feel,

If you’re ready to change your path,


Or just send me a message.

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








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