How to Talk to a Narcissistic Supervisor

Over the past 20 years, I have coached countless employees to effectively communicate with supervisors who have narcissistic personalities. Although narcissism is a rather rare psychological disorder, many men and women with narcissistic personalities rise to high levels in organizations. Dealing with a supervisor who has a narcissistic personality can be very difficult. These individuals often have an inflated sense of self-importance and are highly critical of others. It can be challenging to communicate with a supervisor who has a narcissistic personality, but with some strategies and tips, it is possible to handle the situation in a professional and effective way.

Focus on facts and data

When communicating with a supervisor who has a narcissistic personality, it’s important to stick to the facts and data. These individuals often have an overinflated sense of self and may dismiss opinions or feedback that they perceive as a threat to their ego.

When presenting information or ideas, be sure to have data and evidence to support your position. This will help to validate your opinion and reduce the risk of being dismissed or ignored.

Use positive language

Narcissistic individuals often respond well to positive language and compliments. When communicating with your supervisor, be sure to use language that is positive and affirming. Focus on the things that are going well and highlight their strengths and accomplishments. This will help to build rapport and make it easier to have difficult conversations.

Be concise and clear

Narcissistic individuals often have a short attention span and may quickly become disinterested or dismissive of conversations that they perceive as unimportant. When communicating with your supervisor, it’s important to be clear and concise in your message. Keep your communication brief and to the point, highlighting only the most critical information.

Avoid challenging their ego

Narcissistic individuals have an overinflated sense of self and may become defensive or aggressive when their ego is challenged. When communicating with your supervisor, it’s important to avoid challenging their ego directly. Instead, focus on presenting your ideas and opinions in a way that is respectful and non-confrontational.

Maintain a professional demeanor

Dealing with a narcissistic supervisor can be frustrating and challenging, but it’s important to maintain a professional demeanor at all times. Avoid getting caught up in the emotions of the situation and focus on presenting your ideas and feedback in a professional and respectful way.

Seek support

Dealing with a narcissistic supervisor can be emotionally draining and stressful. It’s important to seek support from colleagues, mentors, or a mental health professional if you need it. Having a support system in place can help you manage the stress and frustration of the situation and provide a sounding board for your ideas and feedback.

Example: Communication Plan

Below is an example of how an employee might communicate with a narcissistic supervisor using the tools outlined in this post.

Employee: Good morning, [Supervisor’s Name]. I have some data and evidence to share with you regarding our current project. Would you like to hear it now, or do you have a specific time in mind to review it together?

Supervisor: Sure, go ahead.

Employee: Based on our data, I have noticed that we could increase efficiency by implementing a new process. I think it could be a positive change for the project. What do you think?

Supervisor: I don’t see how that would work. It’s not necessary.

Employee: I understand your perspective, but I believe the data shows that this could be a viable solution. I would appreciate your input and feedback on how we can improve the process and make it work for everyone.

Supervisor: Well, I don’t think it’s worth the time and effort.

Employee: I understand your concerns, and I value your opinion. However, I think it’s worth exploring the potential benefits and implications of this change. If we could discuss this further, I would appreciate the opportunity to work together to find a solution that is in the best interest of the project.

Final Thoughts

Remember that your communication style can have a significant impact on the outcome of the conversation, so it’s important to approach the situation with a calm and measured approach.

By focusing on facts and data, using positive language, being concise and clear, avoiding challenging their ego, maintaining a professional demeanor, and seeking support, the employee can effectively communicate with their narcissistic supervisor. The employee sticks to the facts, uses positive language, and avoids challenging the supervisor’s ego. Additionally, they remain professional, seek support when necessary, and maintain a calm and measured approach. This example demonstrates how employees can communicate effectively with a narcissistic supervisor while still respecting their position and maintaining a positive work environment.

Contact Me:

If you would like to discuss best practices for communicating with a difficult supervisor, peer, or subordinate, please contact psychologist, and executive coach, Dr. Christine E. Dickson through her website.

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