Author Topic: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss  (Read 5440 times)

Vic99

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Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« on: May 18, 2016, 04:34:36 AM »
I have been teaching at a private school for twenty years.  I've got another nine-ten before retirement.  Changing schools is really out of the question.  I could write lots of why I want to stay there, but won't.

The school hired a new principle a couple of years ago.  Like all bosses this guy made big changes, some positive, some I would agree to disagree with, and some poor.  Morale at the school among the faculty and staff has tanked, partly because this principle does not project himself as a good leader. There are many reasons why he is not a good leader but I believe it all stems from the following: Meeting in front of the entire faculty or just meeting one on one he likes to do two things:  ALWAYS make the conservation about him and tell us how hard his job is and the hurdles he has had to overcome.  I don't mind an anecdote once and a while, but this is truly unprofessional.  I can say the feeling among the faculty follows my sentiment . . . in fact I'm one of the more positive people there . . . and believe me, not annoyingly so.

I try to get a long with everyone.  Partly because that is who I am and partly because it is self serving.  Although I have preserved a professional relationship with this person, I am not in a position to say anything to him.  My department head is very diplomatic and wants to find a way to change his behavior, but hasn't been able to work out how to do it properly.  The school board I'm sure sees how he is.  But they renewed his contract because he has gotten results.  I'm not sure if they understand how miserable this guy can make us.

Do you think sending a thoughtfully crafted anonymous letter to the principle would in any way help?  (I wonder if its a form of mental illness and he wouldn't be able to confront the problem.)  I would like to not be anonymous, but this guy would hold it against me if it backfires.  I earnestly want my situation, my colleagues' situation, and the school to benefit.  If you think this is a bad idea, any other advice?  I really like this job and will stay there until retirement.

Thanks.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2016, 04:47:43 AM »
Principal.

I think an anonymous letter us a terrible idea. You are not in a position of strength and you can leave or stay.

ender

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2016, 05:29:33 AM »
Is your worst complaint really that he talks about himself a lot?

I feel like I'm missing something. While annoying and probably even moreso for any staff who also have egos, it doesn't feel like him talking about himself a lot is enough to inspire this post.

You shouldn't write a letter telling your boss "I think you have a mental illness because you talk about yourself a lot." If you are actually intending to write such a letter you should not focus on the behavior but the actual consequences, results, and actions that it causes. Right now I have no idea what those are because you haven't really said them.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2016, 05:47:31 AM »
You've gotta elaborate on the other reasons this principal is allegedly a bad leader, because I'm with ender - what you have listed is a big "so what?" for me.

Kris

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2016, 05:57:26 AM »
I agree with the others. Writing an anonymous letter will almost certainly not work out well. And yes, can you elaborate on how this behavior has caused your colleagues' morale to plummet so low? It seems irritating, yes, but not corrosive on that level.

Vic99

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2016, 06:22:21 AM »
You are right. I have more. I will elaborate tonight when I have more time. I was rushing off to work but wanted to get this down. Thanks. 

little_brown_dog

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2016, 06:41:57 AM »
Talking about yourself all the time is annoying, but it is not abusive or overtly harmful. And you admit he has made some positive changes, and the board is pleased with his results. He may be self obsessed, but sounds like he’s doing a decent job minus his annoying self-aggrandizement. I'm interested to read your update to see what else he has been doing to cause such a drop in morale.

Working in a place with slipping morale is really hard. I have been there, and ultimately left. I left to stay home with my baby, but I am happy I no longer have to work in a place like that. For us it was overwork. The bosses just piled so much work and unreasonable expectations on the staff. There was never time to be proactive about projects because we were always reacting to the avalanche of work coming in that just never stopped. As a manager, I had numerous conversations about this with our leaders, but they kept telling me we had to find a way to do everything and produce top notch quality results at the same time. No excuses. People started complaining, then leaving. Shortly after I left to become a SAHM, I found out yet another coworker left only a couple months after me. These things tend to be sinking ships - you can either bail out early, bail out in the middle when everyone else is wising up too, or ride it out to see how bad things get.

plog

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2016, 07:13:06 AM »
My girlfriend and I used to have this conversation weekly:

Her: I don't want to do X.

Me: Then don't.

Her: But Y will happen.

Me: Then do.

Her:  You're no help.

I said used to, because she now has the entire conversation with herself, playing my part.  Decisions really are that simple.  Actions have consequences, Inactions has consequences.  Choose the one with the better outcome.  Unfortunately, sometimes the better option still isn't good, but it is better than the alternative.

 Either accept your situation and shut up and take it, or pretend you have dignity and stand up for yourself with your own voice.   

DeltaBond

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2016, 09:57:27 AM »
I've seen the effects of anonymous letters in many situations, and they aren't ever much help... and they seem to cause the senders a lot of stress.

Also, if this person is a narcissist, truly, by definition and diagnosis, nothing will reach him.  You'll be amazed at how he will turn it all around, no matter what you write.

purple monkey

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2016, 10:25:08 AM »
Sorry that you are having to go through this.
Sounds like NPD.  With a narcissistic, they truly can't change.
Show the principal with each idea that YOU want, how it will help HIM.

A letter is a bad idea, as the narcissist will think the letter author is crazy.

It is all about him.
Try to work it to your advantage.
So sorry, as I know in a group environment, this can be so toxic and hurt you and the students as well.

Hope the below is helpful:

https://afternarcissisticabuse.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/why-are-narcissists-are-so-dangerous/

Maybe a countdown of actual days will help.

No matter what, DO NOT piss him off, as he will make your life so miserable.

Dusty Dog Ranch

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2016, 06:58:53 PM »
Oh boy, been there. Luckily you have someone between you and him, so I would work closely with your department head and make sure you are protected from the worst of the narcissistic behavior. I'll take your word for it that it's more than always talking about himself.

I had a boss who was not only narcissistic, but also had paranoid personality disorder ("I am awesome, and everyone is out to get me!"). I was one of her direct reports. There is no way to win, you only become more and more miserable, the speed being determined by the amount of direct power they have over you. As much as you say you want to stay, I can say from experience that it is not worth it, no matter how much you value the mission, the work you do, etc. The worst things about Ns is that they steadily erode one's own self-confidence and feelings of worth. I should have quit the minute the depths of her toxic behavior became clear.

Confronting the N is NOT a good idea- they will see it as a threat and go after you. I was sure that the CEO and board at this NGO would realize the negative impact of this one person after 10 (10!) people quit, one after another, over the course of 3 years, but no, they only saw the cachet that her research brought them (even though she was full of shit about that too).

Sorry and best of luck. Don't sacrifice your own mental health because of someone else's mental illness.

Goldielocks

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2016, 12:15:48 AM »
Just no, to the anonymous letter.   It could really back fire onto you, and at best just be hurtful to your boss.

Instead, why not buy him a nice mirror as a gift for his office, so he can talk about himself to himself?
I would attach a note stating something like "I read that the greatest leaders practice in front of a mirror"....  jk... sort of..

former player

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2016, 01:28:56 AM »
This thread reminded me of the person asking for help with a mooching roommate, to which this post was an awesome rejoinder.  It's not exactly on point, but the same principle applies: stop the fornication donation about anything which doesn't directly affect the way you teach in the classroom.  You seem to be a classroom teacher rather than in the management structure, so take the opportunity of having a crap boss to not think about management issues, which are both outside your circle of control and also something you are not paid enough to think about to someone else's benefit). Use your narcissistic boss's rants as time to tune out and daydream about FIRE, or make mental notes for the comedy you are going to write about teaching in a private school, or plan the next year's lessons, or your hobby or your spouse.  And good luck: I hope you find a happier frame of mind soon.

jan62

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2016, 01:50:17 AM »
if he is a narcissist then all efforts to change his behaviour are a waste of time and energy. Keep out of his way as much as possible, don't confront him or point out faults in front of others or in meetings and do not write and anonymous letter. The only way to deal with narcissists is to stay out of their way as much as possible and don't take the bait when they are trying to get your attention or a reaction.

kinetic

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2016, 02:03:31 AM »
if he is a narcissist then all efforts to change his behaviour are a waste of time and energy. Keep out of his way as much as possible, don't confront him or point out faults in front of others or in meetings and do not write and anonymous letter. The only way to deal with narcissists is to stay out of their way as much as possible and don't take the bait when they are trying to get your attention or a reaction.

this! we had a similar situation at the school where i work but the guy was problematic in different ways.  he was only supposed to be there for 3 yrs and it dragged on for 8 of the most miserable years in my working life.  i tried (and others did as well) to, um, subvert his power but in the end he had the upper hand because the board of directors liked how quickly he "shaped things up" . . .

we just had to repeat to ourselves and each other that we would outlive this guy.  we will stay in our positions long after he is gone. and we have.  i feel like i'm suffering some weird sort of career ptsd from those years.  we're coming up on one year with the new president and we're so in the honeymoon stage with him.  primarily because he treats everyone like human beings . . .

just stay put.  he probably isn't a narcissist in the clinical term (they have hard times maintain a normal semblance of life, can't hold down jobs or have normal relationships, etc) but just very good at self-promotion.

i also learned, during the terrible time at work because of this guy, not to define myself according to my position at this place since its importance shrank during those years.  i'd say that is probably the best thing for me that came out of that guy's reign (of terror).

nobody123

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2016, 07:42:26 AM »
But they renewed his contract because he has gotten results.  I'm not sure if they understand how miserable this guy can make us.

If he's getting the desired results that are better than the previous employee-friendly boss did, he's not going away unless he chooses to do so himself.  Unless the good teachers are leaving and explicitly stating it is because the guy is a jerk, you're stuck with him.

Are you sure everyone is miserable, or maybe they just placate you when you're complaining about the boss?  If there is some widespread hatred of the guy, couldn't the teacher union rep file some sort of grievance?

ltt

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2016, 08:28:03 AM »
You will not be able to change this person, you will only be able to change how you react to it. Realistically, it's one of two things (since you mentioned he has made some positive changes), one can either put up with it by somewhat staying away as much as possible from this person, which will be difficult due to your position.  Or, you can seek another position elsewhere.  I tend to run away from people who always turn the conversation into a conversation about themselves or how wonderful their kids are, or how nice their house is, or what material possessions they have, etc.  You, on the other hand, may not be able to do this, if you choose to stay.  It really is your decision.  Can you or are you willing to tolerate this person for, basically, another decade?

BFGirl

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2016, 03:23:52 PM »
I am 90% sure that I was married to someone with a narcissistic personality disorder and have worked for a boss who probably has it as well.  They won't change their behavior because of anything you tell them.  A letter may make you feel better but it can only serve to hurt you if your boss learns you wrote it.    Write it and tear it up if you need to, but don't send it.

Either learn to keep your head down and deal with the situation or look for another job.


ShortInSeattle

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2016, 08:16:50 PM »
I work with CEOs. Most of them have big egos and love to tell their stories. The best of them are good listeners who are genuinely interested in others, but this isn't always the case. The shadow side of confidence is arrogance.

What you described doesn't sound so much like Narcissism as it does like a leader who loves to hear themselves talk, and who has mediocre listening/relating skills.

I'd say you've shared your feedback with your department head, so you've done what you can do. That's the correct channel. Evaluating the Principal isn't your job, so having said your piece to your boss you can either stay or go.

If your board of directors asks for staff input, that is one more place to weigh in. There may be an annual survey, for example.

And an anonymous letter is going to be dismissed as passive-aggressive. If you *must* do more than you have done, sit down with the principal and give him your concerns face-to-face. That isn't risk-free, but at least it's respectful.

SIS

Guesl982374

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Re: Realistic Help with a Narcissistic Boss
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2016, 06:13:58 AM »
I work with CEOs. Most of them have big egos and love to tell their stories. The best of them are good listeners who are genuinely interested in others, but this isn't always the case. The shadow side of confidence is arrogance.

What you described doesn't sound so much like Narcissism as it does like a leader who loves to hear themselves talk, and who has mediocre listening/relating skills.

I'd say you've shared your feedback with your department head, so you've done what you can do. That's the correct channel. Evaluating the Principal isn't your job, so having said your piece to your boss you can either stay or go.

If your board of directors asks for staff input, that is one more place to weigh in. There may be an annual survey, for example.

And an anonymous letter is going to be dismissed as passive-aggressive. If you *must* do more than you have done, sit down with the principal and give him your concerns face-to-face. That isn't risk-free, but at least it's respectful.

SIS

This

Sorry that you are having to go through this.
Sounds like NPD.  With a narcissistic, they truly can't change.
Show the principal with each idea that YOU want, how it will help HIM.

A letter is a bad idea, as the narcissist will think the letter author is crazy.

It is all about him.
Try to work it to your advantage.
So sorry, as I know in a group environment, this can be so toxic and hurt you and the students as well.
...

No matter what, DO NOT piss him off, as he will make your life so miserable.


and this.