The Narcissistic Boss
The narcissistic boss is a clever little creature that likes to wield their power over employees in maddening and threatening ways (that people ONLY put up with because they’re afraid to lose their jobs.) They are crazy making bosses that rule by fear and intimidation; constant criticism (thinly veiled or openly hostile and usually a bit of both) and foster a work environment where employees can’t seem to cooperate very well.
This is due to the interference in employee relations by the narcissist in the form of “triangulation”, gossip and backstabbing. In addition, sick competitions are set up and some employees will be golden and some will be black sheep (and it usually has nothing to do with performance but instead on who is a better brown noser.) To make things even more exciting, they often act like jerks without any provocation, even if you have decided to BE one of the brown nosers. So, regardless of your performance, status or a**kissing abilities, you can be shoved to the bottom of the pile and stomped on for the most trivial of reasons — or for no particular reason at all.
There will be endless strife, low employee morale and a sense that at any moment you could be handed a pink slip. It is a place where there are extra large bottles of headache tablets for those frequent migraines and antacids to help those with continually churning stomachs that are tight with stress. Even more stressful is the fact that they are usually quite charming to THEIR bosses (if they have them) and/or the clients so that YOU end up looking like an idiot if you complain.
It is NOT a fun place to work and you may have fantasies of strangling the S.O.B. (or witch if the boss is female…and the women can be MUCH worse than the males due to the inequality that exists in today’s workplace between men and women.) By the time some women reach positions of power they are real barracudas — and many narcissistic women DO reach those heights because they have less hesitation than most women in shredding the competition and using dirty tactics to climb the ladder.
This little story is about David, a man I knew for TEN years over the phone while we lived in different states. I met him in the year 2000, right as I as leaving Nashville to move back to Seattle and so I never had much face to face contact with him, only a couple of times before I moved. He was my website client for 10 years BUT only from a long distance and over the phone. Once I’d moved back to Nashville and gone to work FOR him, he was only my boss for ten DAYS because of his narcissistic insanity.
During those years when we lived 1,500 miles apart and had only phone contact, I LOVED talking to him. He was funny and when he called, he was usually beside himself with some thing or another that one of his tenants was doing that made him crazy with frustration. The way he “ripped into them” was quite amusing…rather like watching a good dark comedy on television; full of sarcasm and descriptions of the tenants’ lunacy that were so “over the top” they were humorous. I never saw his face during his tirades and I never observed how he looked or acted with any of those tenants. THEY were all crazy and bad and, of course, he is the perfect landlord (he owns a bunch of rental properties here in Nashville.)
During that entire time, he stayed pretty much permanently stressed out about needing administrative help but bemoaned the fact that he could never find any competent help. I sympathized and made lots and lots of suggestions since I have an extensive executive administrative assistant background….it’s what I did for 20 years before I became a webmaster.
Fast forward to April of 2010. I now lived in Houston. He had taken over his own website in about 2008 but we stayed talking and I’d occasionally help him solve some problem or another with his site. So were were talking that April and he said, as he had many times over the years, “I wish you’d move to Nashville and work part time for me.” I replied, “Forget it, I JUST finished moving the rest of my stuff to Houston out of my storage room in Seattle…I’m not even done unpacking all those boxes yet. NO way am I moving ANYWHERE!” We laughed and that was that.
God told me to move back to Nashville the very next month, May 17th. I wasn’t all that pleased and I won’t go into the long story of how many times God has moved me here but suffice it to say that I immediately made plans to move back. I’ve learned “the hard way” about not obeying God too many times. I called David and told him and voila, we started making plans for me to work for him part time in Nashville as an assistant property manager for $20,000 per year.
I lasted ten DAYS working for him and his extreme narcissism had me in constant prayer trying to make it through the day. Then it made me want to drink hard liquor (and I don’t drink. EVER.) Here is what I wrote to release my anger and frustration:
HOW TO LOSE A GOOD EMPLOYEE IN 10 DAYS OR LESS
- Print the employee’s personal cell phone number on business cards for YOUR company without asking their permission, or even discussing it with them beforehand.
- Follow that up by telling them you think they should put a “more appropriate” voice message on that personal cell phone, something reflecting YOUR company name. Ignore the fact that the part time employee still has their own long established business that the cell phone was intended for.
- Give your tenants the new employee’s cell phone number so that the tenants who are angry about something YOU’VE done can call new employee at inappropriate hours like midnight and 6 am.
- Make your OWN phone calls at inappropriate times. For instance, call at 7:40 am and completely blow past the fact that the employee is being awoken by your phone call. Do not stop to ask yourself if you should call back after they’ve had a chance to go to the restroom and get coffee. Talk non-stop from 7:40 until 8:50 am…and then tell them at the end of the tirade that you hope they’re taking notes.
- Change your demands and priorities daily, ensuring total confusion of new employee. Criticize them when they ask for clarification.
- Bring your children to work during the new employee’s first week. Then blame the employee for your frustration about trying to juggle too many people on the jobsite.
- Do more confusing things like telling the employee that they should take a couple of days off because you’re too stressed trying to juggle too many people. Tell the employee to get their house (that they’ve JUST moved into) “together” during the time you won’t need them. Then call the very next afternoon on their “day off” and demand to know what the employee has done for you that day.
- Be as controlling as possible and stay frustrated and stressed out on a continual basis thus feeding what appears to be a deep need for chaos, drama and trauma.
- Tell the new employee that you want to hear their ideas and then tell them to shut up when they try to express them. Tell them they talk too much. Prop up your rude B.S. by saying things to the employee like “You know, everyone agrees with me about you” as if THAT makes your reprehensible treatment okay or something.
- Treat new employee with distrust and suspicion because a previous employee was not honest. Forget 10 year relationship where new employee was honest about hours and work performed.
- Talk in a condescending and rude manner as often as possible apparently reassuring yourself that you are better than everyone around you.
- Give yourself narcissistic supply by talking incessantly yourself — preferably for at least an hour without taking a single breath or allowing anyone else to say a single word — clearly enthralled with the sound of your own voice and the repetitious stories about how everyone around you is stupid, slow, dishonest, lazy, etc.
- Do not call your new employee after they tell you that they’ve injured their back moving the couch in their new house that is still a huge mess of moving boxes and jumbled furniture. Ignore the several messages they leave you apologizing and explaining that they are flat out on said couch in great pain. Send them emails instead. Apparently you think that someone who has injured their back moving heavy furniture (turned out if was a severe thoracic strain that ended up requiring physical therapy) will have no problem sitting upright for hours at a time to read your emails. Whatever ranting you did in those emails will always be known ONLY to you because I never read even a single ONE of them. Why would I? You didn’t have the courtesy to inquire as to my health…what makes you think I would care what YOU had to say? Your complete lack of concern was the final straw.
- Be true to your narcissistic self and feel resentment and anger toward your employee for daring to injure themselves and not be there to serve you. It’s either that, or the fact that you actually could care less about them as a human being, not even deigning to return employee’s phone calls. EITHER reason puts YOU in the official “you SUCK as a boss” category. No wait. It puts you in the “you suck as a human” category too.
- Confuse the roles of “part time boss” and “part time employee” with “king” and “slave.”
- And last but certainly not least, tell them $20,000 per year and then change it to a flat $15 per hour once they’ve already accepted the job (that lower hourly rate comes to $15,480 per year, a difference of $377 per month or $4,520 per year.)
My conclusion in this matter? Simple. Adios, you raving lunatic. My time and talent are not yours to trash and regardless of your attempted financial rape, I’ve realized that you couldn’t EVER pay me enough to stay working for you because you are a narcissistic little pig.