When you think of narcissistic love-bombing, you probably don’t think of your boss, but if your boss is a narcissist, they might use love-bombing too. Love-bombing is over-the-top praise that narcissists use to manipulate and control the people around them, including their coworkers. You often see this manipulation tactic in the early stages of a relationship when you may not even know you’re dealing with a narcissist. It won’t last, however, and that’s why you need to know how to deal with it.
To counter your narcissistic boss’s love-bombing, avoid becoming invested in it. Don’t react to it emotionally, don’t count on it, and don’t look for opportunities for your boss to praise you. You also want to give your coworkers appropriate credit and keep it professional with your boss.
Love-bombing is such a deceptive tactic since the whole point is to lull you into a false sense of security. I always knew when my mother needed something because that was when she would start love-bombing me. While you might want the love-bombing to be a true reflection of how much your boss appreciates you, it’s not, and it won’t help you get ahead either. You’ll soon find out that the love-bombing is just part of the narcissistic abuse cycle. That’s why you need these tactics for dealing with it.
Narcissistic Boss’s Love-Bombing: How To Deal With It
The solution to a narcissistic boss’s love-bombing begins with understanding it. Narcissists often use love-bombing to make a good impression and lure you into a false sense of security.
I remember one time I took a job with a boss I didn’t know was narcissistic. He was initially very impressed with my skills, or so I thought. Soon, however, he began to yell at me for even the most minor things.
When he physically threw something at me, I quit the job. That was only two weeks after I had started. Amazingly, one of the other employees who had been with him for 5 years left a sympathy card on my windshield the same day I quit. She had run out and gotten one when she heard me quit.
In her card, she explained that this man had gone through over 100 employees in a year’s time. He was a narcissist, and his initial praise of my skills was simply to reel me into his little manipulation game. She only stayed with him in her job because he had specific skills that were beneficial to her.
I had managed to experience a good portion of the narcissistic cycle of abuse over a very short period of time. In many cases, it may take months or even years to see your boss’s true colors, but make no mistake about it, they will eventually come shining through.
That’s why you need to know these tactics to deal with their love-bombing because it’s not for real.
No Emotional Reactions
When you react emotionally to your boss’s love-bombing, you’re giving them a visible cue that their tactic is working. If you smile proudly or shed tears of happiness as they heap praise and adoration on you, they know you’re buying into their scam.
You might be really good at your job, and you might have great skills, but when a narcissistic boss praises your work, they aren’t really praising your abilities. They are trying to set the hook so that they can begin making unreasonable demands.
Showing them your emotions lets them know that their tactics are working. You’re becoming invested in their praise. That’s what they are trying to do; they want to train you to perform for their praise.
It makes a narcissistic boss feel powerful to make their employees perform for a kind word from them. It’s like the puppet master getting all of their puppets to do exactly what they want.
While most bosses will praise their employees for their work, and they have expectations that their employees will do what they tell them to do, the narcissistic boss is excessive in their praise, and they have unrealistic expectations of employee behavior.
Moreover, their manipulation goes beyond professional boundaries as they try to manipulate the relationships between their employees too. These are the behaviors that distinguish the narcissistic boss from other types.
That’s why if you show emotions when your narcissistic boss praises you, they see that what they are doing is working. You’re buying into their manipulation, and they know they will be able to use you when they want.
Keep it cool and calm, and they won’t know if their hook is set. They won’t know if they can manipulate you or not.
Don’t Count on Love-Bombing as Being Supportive of You
While love-bombing is praise, it’s not really the kind of praise you want from a boss. It’s not genuine, and so it’s not something that’s going to help you in any way.
When most bosses praise your work, you know they’ve noticed that you do a good job. You also think that will find its way into your performance reviews, and you’ll get a raise. But praise from a narcissistic boss is not something you can on in any meaningful way.
In fact, it may hurt you because the over-the-top nature of their praise is often so much that others begin to wonder what’s really going on between you two. They may start to think you have an inappropriate romantic relationship or that you’re being unfairly praised for some other reason.
That won’t benefit you in the long run, even if it seems beneficial at first. It may cause your coworkers to undermine your work or be resistant to working with you. Additionally, eventually, your narcissistic boss will stop praising you as the relationship enters the next stage in the cycle of abuse.
At that point, you’re left without their support and without the respect and support of other coworkers. It can really put you in a bind in your professional career.
Don’t Look for Praise
Another way to deal with love-bombing from your narcissistic boss is to avoid those situations where they are likely to praise you. They want you to start looking for praise.
To a narcissistic boss, when you’re performing like a trained dog so that they will praise you, that’s an affirmation of the power they hold over your life. Additionally, other employees will begin to resent you even more when they see you seeming to beg for your boss’s toxic attention.
It’s a sad truth, but the narcissistic boss creates chaos in the workplace by using their manipulation techniques to create divisions between employees. When you buy into those tactics by looking for that false praise, you deepen those divisions.
Do you work, do it well, and don’t expect or ask for anything from your narcissistic boss. If they praise you, downplay your gratitude and keep working. Don’t look for praise, and don’t overreact if you receive it.
That’s the best way to keep peace with your coworkers, and it’s also a good way to stay in good standing in your job.
Give Coworkers Appropriate Credit
Another tactic you can use when your narcissistic boss love-bombs you is to give your coworkers appropriate credit for their role in any success you have. Even if you were working mostly alone on a particular project, you can give your coworkers credit for taking on other projects so you could focus on yours.
The more you can give credit for success to the whole group, the easier it will be to get your narcissistic boss’s focus off of you. That’s really the key.
When a narcissistic boss is love-bombing you, they’re focusing on you in an unhealthy way. They either want to turn you into their lapdog, or they are setting you up for a fall.
Either way, it’s of no benefit to you, so you want to take their focus off of you. Share the credit, and your coworkers will appreciate you more. Moreover, your narcissistic boss will come to realize that their love-bombing isn’t doing what they hoped it would.
While these tactics are focused on dealing with a narcissistic boss, you might also have narcissistic coworkers who can make your life miserable. This video explains how to deal with a narcissistic coworker.
Keep it Professional
A good rule of thumb in any workplace is to keep your relationships professional. When you let any relationship at work become something more, it’s a recipe for disaster. That is particularly true when you’ve got a narcissistic boss.
You definitely don’t want to have a romantic relationship with a narcissistic boss. While that’s true of any boss, it’s really important when you’re dealing with a narcissist.
Any relationship with a narcissist will encounter problems at some point. The nature of narcissistic personality disorder is such that unless you’re codependent, you will have problems with them. They will emotionally abuse you, and any problems in your personal relationship will definitely bleed into your work relationship as well.
Moreover, other employees will pick up on the nature of your relationship, and you will become the subject of workplace gossip. Your coworkers will believe you’ve ‘slept your way to the top.’
It will be very damaging to your career, so it’s best to keep everything between you and a narcissistic boss completely professional. Even if you just strike up a personal friendship with a narcissistic boss, that can have negative effects on your career.
Any personal relationship with a narcissist is likely to have big problems, and when it does, you will also then experience problems at work. Keep it professional, and you’ll be in a much better position when your narcissistic boss starts to devalue you.
Keep a Log of Your Contributions
This is a good idea in any job, but with a narcissistic boss, you need to keep a log of your contributions since they often steal credit for your ideas and blame you for any mistakes. Though their love-bombing may make you believe they would never do that, you have to remember they are just putting on a show of support.
They will not hesitate to take credit for something that you did and blame you for something they did. A narcissist is all about protecting their carefully constructed false self-image. They will go to any extreme to ensure they seem like the superior person they’ve told everyone they are.
If they are openly praising you for something you’ve done, you can be sure they are doing so with an agenda in mind. That praise might not only disappear but it might also be turned into blame at any time. If their image is threatened, they will stop at nothing to fix the damage.
I remember one man who spoke of his narcissistic boss at a workshop I attended. He had come up with a great advertising idea for a new product his company was marketing. His narcissistic boss praised him initially, and he shared the details with her because of that praise.
Later, she implemented his idea and took credit for it with her own superiors. When this man was passed over for a promotion, he found out his narcissistic boss had gotten it as a result of his marketing idea. Because he had shared the details with her in private, there was little he could do to claim the idea as his.
Documenting your contributions with contemporary notes and witnesses to any interactions would make it much more difficult for your boss to do this.
What are the Signs Your Boss is a Narcissist?
You might not be certain your boss is a narcissist, so it’s valuable to know the signs they have this personality disorder. You can check out this video about the signs of a narcissistic boss.
As you’ll see, there are several things to look for that can indicate pathological narcissism. Here are a few more to consider:
They are Excessively Charming (At First)
One of the first things you’ll probably see in a narcissistic boss is their charm. Most narcissists are charming in the beginning to get you to feel secure. That charm won’t last, however.
Your narcissistic boss might shower you with praise at the beginning of your work relationship. They may sing your praises to other coworkers. They might highlight your educational background and/or your extensive experience.
You’ll undoubtedly feel like you’re the best thing to happen to this company since computers. While you might have a good background and exceptional skills, a narcissistic boss isn’t praising you for that reason.
They always have an agenda, and you can be sure that their praise somehow benefits them. Moreover, this charm will disappear at a certain point, and it will likely be replaced with devaluation.
They Require Almost Constant Praise
While your narcissistic boss is praising you, you might also begin to notice that they require an almost constant supply of praise from others. You’ll likely know this because they will point it out when they are being praised.
Despite their apparent confidence, you’ll notice them ‘fishing for compliments,’ and you’ll also likely notice them becoming increasingly uncomfortable when they go for a period of time without any praise.
This adoration they need is actually referred to as narcissistic supply. They require this because they don’t have a stable identity mechanism with which to prop up their own self-esteem. That’s why they need external validation.
What’s more, they will do almost anything to get that supply. This is one main reason they will blame someone else, possibly you, for any mistakes that occur. They can’t be seen as inferior in any way.
They Lack Empathy
I remember working at one job as a teenager, where a very nice coworker of mine – an older gentleman with lots of experience – went to the boss and asked for a raise. He had years of experience doing the work he was doing.
He carefully, respectfully, and humbly laid out all the reasons he had for needing a raise and for why he felt he deserved one. The boss, a narcissist, seemed to be listening intently to his request. But when this man finished, this toxic boss simply pulled out a stack of applications and told the man he could pick his replacement.
It was incredibly cruel, but a narcissistic boss has no empathy for their employees. This boss showed just how true that is. Narcissists see other people as extensions of their own identity, and they feel, therefore, entitled to abuse them as they see fit.
That’s why they don’t care how anything they do affects you. They don’t understand how it affects you, so how can they care? This is why you should never expect a narcissistic boss to care about your situation, no matter what it is.
They Won’t Tolerate Criticism
You’ll also notice that a narcissistic boss won’t tolerate any level of criticism. Even something very mild and that may not be intended as criticism will be taken as such by a narcissistic boss.
For example, let’s say your narcissistic boss comes up with a marketing idea, but you know it won’t work because you have some specific insight or data into why it won’t work. So you say, “I think your idea is good, but I’m not sure that will work because the data show that our customers don’t like that approach.”
Your narcissistic boss will likely become extremely sensitive to your suggestion. They will probably show you a glimpse of narcissistic rage by erupting at you in front of your colleagues.
Even though you didn’t mean it as a criticism of their idea and you phrased it in a very polite way, the narcissist will see something like that as a personal criticism of their idea. They might become vengeful and even blame you when they institute it anyway, and it fails.
As psychologist and narcissistic abuse survivor Tiffani Morton puts it, “NOTHING is EVER their fault! EVERYONE, including the family pet, has done them wrong.”
It really creates a no-win solution for you. You can’t offer them your honest opinion unless your honest opinion is full support of whatever they want. You also can’t expect to get credit for supporting them.
In fact, if you offer your support for their idea, and it fails, they will likely blame you for not warning them. That, despite the fact that they won’t accept anything other than support.
Where Does Love-Bombing Fit in the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse?
Love-bombing is something you experience from a narcissistic boss at the beginning of your professional relationship. The same is true of a personal relationship. But in either case, it doesn’t last.
Narcissists can be very charming at first, and they seem like they are extremely supportive and interested in you. It’s a way of training you to expect them to praise you and to want them to praise you.
When they have you wanting that praise, that’s exactly where they want you because they can now manipulate you. They believe they can get you to do anything they want. You’re hooked on their praise.
The problem is that even if you did everything they wanted all the time, that love-bombing stage, also known as the idealization stage, eventually changes. Narcissists have unrealistic expectations of the people in their life.
There’s no way that anyone can meet those unrealistic expectations. If you give the narcissist what they want all the time, they will expect that you can read their mind. In other words, what you give will never be enough, and they will always expect more.
When you can’t give them what they feel entitled to, you fall from grace, and the relationship enters the devaluation stage. This is where they become incredibly critical of everything you do. At that point, you might elect to find another job, but if you don’t, the relationship will likely continue to deteriorate.
At some point, as it deteriorates, the narcissist may eventually decide to discard you. A narcissistic boss will fire you, a lover will leave you, or a friend will disappear. They will discard you because they believe they have gotten everything they can from you, and they don’t need you anymore.
The reality is that you will likely not be able to get ahead in your career with a narcissistic boss. You’ll probably want to look for either another job or another position within the company to escape the no-win situation you’re in. But if you have no choice in the matter, one of the most important things you can do if you have a narcissistic boss is not to let them trigger you emotionally. If you do, they will know exactly how to get to you.
To help with that, I’ve created a 5-Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers. This is a free guide designed to help you identify, defuse, and even heal your emotional triggers. If you can do that, a narcissist can’t use them to manipulate you. It will help you survive a narcissistic boss. If you would like a copy, just click here and I’ll send this handy guide directly to your inbox.
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