How to Talk to Your Narcissistic Boss

Oil on canvas

Oil on canvas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After years of speculation, you have finally come to the realization that your boss is a narcissist.  Since this is not the type of economy where you can just leave your job and expect to get another one quickly, you find yourself stuck and miserable in a job that normally you would like except for your narcissistic boss.  In the beginning everything was great.  Your boss seemed to like you and you liked him/her despite the previous dozen or so former employees who left rather abruptly.  Then one day everything changed, as if a switch just flicked without your knowledge and you went from the best employee ever to the most incompetent human alive.

But you are stuck and despite the numerous attempts to flick the switch back the other way, it’s not budging.  Every day now begins with several duck and cover attempts as you dodge the verbal bullets assaults of your boss until one day when you have no option but to confront.  Finally, the issues on your desk have built up to an unbearable level and something has to give as there is no more time. While you know you need to confront your boss, you must do it in a way that doesn’t cost your job in the process.  So how do you do it?  Try a few of these suggestions.

 Use the Hamburger method.  Think for a moment about a McDonald’s hamburger, would you ever eat the meat without the bun?  No, the meat is terrible without the bun.  Well for just about anyone, but a narcissist in particular, delivering bad news is the meat of the matter and without a bun it is likely to be spit right back out at you.  So, create a bun of praise around the meat.  Since a narcissist loves himself/herself, try praising your boss first, then follow it with the meat of the matter, and end it with yet another personal or professional praise.

Use it only once.  You are going to be shocked at how well this will work and be very tempted to repeat this for the dozen or so other meats but watch out.  Your narcissist boss will likely catch on and become even angrier thinking that you are manipulating him/her.  So when you do this, do it once per conversation, and never twice in the same day.

 Pick your meat carefully.  If possible, prioritize the meat that needs to be confronted and do the most burning issues first, then follow it with the ones for greater long-term impact and end with the other not so important short-term issues that may just go away on their own.  Whenever possible, overlook meat so your confrontations are not frequent but don’t be irresponsible about the meat.  Some meat must be dealt with however insignificant it may seem.

When in danger…If the confrontation begins to take a bad turn, don’t defend yourself.  Never ever give ground to a narcissist unless you are willing to give that ground permanently.  Instead repeat back part of what your boss is saying, not too much to be obnoxious, but just enough to let him/her know you heard what he/she said even if this includes something negative about you.  That action alone, without your overreaction will be enough to take the wind out of his/her sails.

No emotion.  The thing about a narcissist is that he/she has no empathy of anyone else except himself/herself, so don’t waste your time getting upset or teary eyed.  The quickest way for a narcissist to stop being angry is for you to have no emotion whatsoever.  When you show emotion, he/she believes you have lost and treats you like prey instead of treating you with compassion.  When you don’t show emotion, your narcissistic boss will try another tactic such as changing the subject to try again to get the upper hand.

Don’t give ground, stand still, and stand strong and your narcissistic boss will likely soften around you instead of attacking the next time.  Just remember that a narcissistic boss is common and even if you left your current position, you are likely to find another one lurking behind some corner.  So stop fighting and learn how to talk to a narcissistic boss instead of running from them.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What to do When You Lack Motivation

Ok, admit it.  Some days you completely lack motivation to do the things you know need to be done.  It’s not like you don’t know what needs to be done or lack something to do; it’s that you have zero desire to do it.  In fact if you lined up all the things that need to be done you could actually spend your entire vacation time doing them and the list still would not be complete.

There are clothes in the washer than need to be moved to the drier so they won’t get mold on them and have to be washed again, but you still don’t do it.  There is a report you have to complete and a pending deadline all too soon but nothing you write makes sense.  There is a crack in your windshield that has been there for days, weeks, months or dare I say years but you have not gotten it fixed.  There is a friend you know you should contact because they are going through a rough time and you love them dearly but you dread the conversation.  Or there is my personal favorite, you know that it is time for an annual check-up (truth be told that time was really five years ago) but you won’t make the appointment.

Sound familiar?  Having read more self-help books and listened to more motivation talks than you can remember still is not helping you to do the very thing you don’t want to do.  So instead of following an old slogan like “Just do it”, try this instead.

  • Rest.  Maybe you are burned out and just need some rest.  Take one day off and do something fun to rejuvenate yourself.
  • Play.  Play with a toy, a game, or go to a park.  Just distracting yourself can be helpful.
  • Draw.  Did you ever doodle or draw as a kid?  Try doing that and see where your mind takes you.
  • Phone.  Call a friend (not the one you have been dreading) but another one that makes you smile.
  • Encourage.  Try to encourage someone else and be helpful to them.  Taking the focus away from yourself for a while is useful.
  • Laugh.  Watch an old sitcom that makes you laugh out loud.  Laughter is good for the soul.
  • Thanks.  Give thanks to God for the blessings in your life.  Don’t put in a request, just be thankful.
  • Change.  Go for a walk, take a drive or go to a different room, do something to change your environment.  Sometimes this alone is helpful.
  • Exercise.  When you are unmotivated to do other things, exercise seems like a good excuse.  Use it to push your body and cleanse your thoughts.
  • Think small.  Just doing one small step of your task list or project can be enough to inspire you to complete the larger item.

The bottom line is that doing something is better than doing nothing, even if that something has nothing to do with your “To Do” list.  When you are not motivated to do the things you need to get done, just doing a little thing can make a big difference in the end.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What Not to Say to Your Unemployed Spouse

Having your spouse out of work for any extended period of time can be stressful especially in an economy where the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in over 20 years.  Many unemployed workers are looking for any job whether it is in their profession or not just to cover the bills.  In addition, there is also an increase in the number of employees dissatisfied in their work place but afraid to change jobs for fear of an extended unemployment.  Talk about stress.

Added to that stress is the normal stress of a marriage relationship.  As if there wasn’t enough to be stressed about in a marriage with mortgages, finances, kids, in-laws, bills, minimal cash flow, lack of communication and decreased sex drive; now add to that the stress of unemployment.  These are the kind of stressors that can make or break your marriage relationship, but this is precisely the time that the vow “For better or for worse” was intended.

It is hard to know what to say to friends during difficult times because it can literally make or break a friendship.  But if you say the wrong thing to your spouse during this time, it can paralyze them for days of inactivity precisely when activity is needed.  Even when you try to be encouraging, it can sometimes come across as patronizing.  But by looking at what not to say, you can minimize the damage.  Here is a bit of humor at what not to say to your spouse during these times.

  1. The grunge look ended in the 90’s.
  2. How many Star Gate episodes are you up to now?
  3. Did you do anything today?
  4. Didn’t you wear that yesterday?
  5. My headaches will go away when you have a job.
  6. Here is your “To Do” list to do.
  7. Did you get a job yet?
  8. I knew this would happen.
  9. I see why you were let go.
  10. You can always go work for my dad.

A better approach is to put yourself in their shoes and be more loving in your comments.   After all, unemployment has a way of making even the most secure person insecure for a period of time.  While your spouse may seem unmotivated, unfocused, and unproductive for a period of time, this is a normal reaction to unemployment.  Instead of the above comments, try words of encouragement, a kind gesture and an act of service which are far more productive in the end than nagging or complaining.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Out of Troubles Comes Wisdom through Moving Yet Again

Heaven

Heaven (Photo credit: adyyflickr)

Yet another box to unpack and more stuff to decide where it belongs.  The never-ending stream of things both necessary and unnecessary seems to procreate overnight and grow into this insurmountable pile of stuff.  Moving is physically exhausting as things never seem to land where they belong and more things are misplaced or displaced then organized.  No matter the house size whether bigger or smaller than before, nothing seems to work out just as planned.  Then of course there is the list of things that need to be done such as checking on the AC unit before the heat of the summer sets in or the heater before the cold becomes unbearable.  It really does not matter if the place you are moving into is old or new (trust me, new things break as easily as old), in good shape or poor shape, or near or far from where you came.  The process is tiring nonetheless and exhaustion quickly turns into an overwhelming feeling of “What have I done?”

But logic prevails and the reasons for the move slowly begin to overshadow the journey itself lifting your spirits ever so slightly.  There is the old picture you found of your kids when they were younger, a copy of a musical program that you and your spouse went to when dating, a box given to you by your deceased grandfather, or a book that has been passed down for several generations.  So many memories come from these things; memories that you had forgotten or rather just had not intentionally remembered until finding a new place for the object forced it to come forward.  Looking back on the moving experience is painful but just like childbirth, something good emerges from the pain.

We are not meant to become attached to stuff in fact the Bible strictly warns against it.  1 John 2:15 begins a warning, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you”.  While a move may highlight the importance of some of your possessions; it should also highlight that the very things you treasure will not leave this world but you eventually will.  The Egyptians held onto a belief for many centuries that a person’s possession can travel with them when they die.  The fact that these things remain here on earth is evidence enough that you can’t take your stuff with you.

This is good news.  For you are made to have a home in Heaven, your home is not here on earth but with God in Heaven.  Just like your recent move, you will one day move on to meet your Creator.  The question is, “What have you done to prepare for that move?”  On this earth, you box valuable things up with such care as to protect them during the move but what have you done to prepare your heart and mind for the last and final move of your life?  It is never too late to make a decision to move in the right direction.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Stress of Moving: Setting Reasonable Expectations

Admittedly, the title of this article may cause you to respond with a “no duh” comment.  Having to pack up all of your belongings, sort and organize them, label boxes, hope that nothing breaks, and then unpack everything while trying to find a new home for your stuff is stressful enough.  Add to that whatever caused you to move in the first place: new job, new marriage, new house, new pet, more kids, divorce, foreclosure, loss of job, declining health, loss of a loved one, lifestyle change, change of schools, or expired rental agreement and you have a recipe for a full-blown panic attack.

It is no wonder why moving is so stressful and it should be stressful.  Yes, you read right, moving should be stressful.  One of the many contributing factors to increased stress and anxiety is unrealistic expectations.  Unrealistic expectations that the move will go smoothly, that everything you currently have will fit neatly into your new space, that everything will work properly, that you will have all of the boxes unpacked in a few days, or that your new space needs to look perfect before someone visits.  These expectations are unrealistic and add to your moving stress.  So what do you do?  Try these suggestions.

Set reasonable goals.  Before you move, establish a timeline for competing of getting settled into your new space.  For instance, if you have a one-bedroom apartment, it may take you a month to get fully settled into your space but if you have a four-bedroom home, it may take you six months to get fully settled into your space.  Take into account any additional changes, such as new job, relationship, or town and add an additional month for each major change.  This is a far more realistic goal.

Set reasonable boundaries.  You do not need to have a house-warming party within ten days of having moved into your space.  This is far too much stress to put yourself through and may cause you to crash if you try to achieve it.  Be kind to yourself and the people around you and set your house-warming party up following your goal month.  Allow others to help by bringing over a meal or helping to unpack some boxes while not allowing you to feel guilty for accepting help.  There is nothing wrong with needed and receiving help.

Set reasonable breaks.  One of the Ten Commandments is to take a Sabbath every week.  This is especially true when enduring major life changes.  The temptation is to work through the day of rest to get it all done but this is actually counter-productive as it leaves you sapped of your energy on the working days.  It also makes you a bit snappy, irritable, short-tempered, and overwhelmed.  Twenty-four hours of rest once a week is not too much and you will feel refreshed for the rest of the week.

Yes, moving is stressful but how you handle moving will determine your level of stress.  By setting reasonable goals, boundaries and breaks, you can reduce not eliminate the intensity of your stress and be more productive at the same time.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What a Pain in the Back!

It was sometime during my 7th month of pregnancy with our third child that my husband found out he would be gone six weeks prior to our child’s expected birth and for six weeks following our child’s birth for a job.  Having the foresight of two prior pregnancies and knowing that my mother could not stay for an extended time, I asked for my mother to come stay with us after the birth.  But before the birth was another issue.  Our oldest child was three and he had more energy than the entire family combined multiplied by two.  He had two speeds, go fast and sleep; there was no in between.  Our second child did not have the high energy but was a bit colicky even after turning one.  She always knew what she wanted and most of the time it was mommy.  Both pregnancies were high risk due to the premature birth of our son and the early labor pains of our daughter, so by default, this pregnancy was high risk as well which meant additional doctor’s visits with the kids trailing along.

Now, I’m 5’2” on a good day with a very short-waisted so all of my babies stuck straight out making me look like I had a beach ball inside my shirt more than an unborn child.  My posture was forced to change, I could not sleep on a flat surface because I literally could not breathe, and I was often carrying around one of the other two children if not both from time to time.  On top of all that, I was exhausted trying to keep up with our son and managing our daughter’s crying bouts.  The only relief that I had been my husband coming home at night to help out with the kids and now he was going to be gone.

The back pain was the worst I ever had in my life even after having gone through two car accidents that damaged my back.  I could not take pain medication because of my high risk pregnancies, the chiropractor was nervous about continuing treatment so close to the expected date, and over the counter medications did not work with my history of ulcers.  So I had to learn how to manage the pain without the help of any medication, without the ability to lie flat (I slept in a La-Z-Boy), and in between caring for the kids.

Take a load off.  Just getting temporary relief from the pain was helpful and restored my energy levels back to my new normal.  While heating pads helped at home, the largest difference was going to our neighborhood pool for at least an hour a day and just standing in shoulder-high water.  The kids loved to play in the pool and armed with extra floatation devices to put my mind at ease, I was able to get the weight off my back.  The water took the pressure off my back and for an hour a day my back felt weightless.  On days that I could not go to the pool, the garden tub we had been helpful but did not provide the deep relief because my stomach stuck out of the water.  Taking a load off my back did help to relieve the pain and taught me the importance of caring for yourself so you can care better for others.

Ask for help. Ok, I admit it, I’m not the type to ask for help or admit that something is too much for me to handle.  When my husband first told me about the job I encouraged him to take it and never once asked him not to see the job through to the end.  I did not want to be the reason he did not do something that he really wanted to do, so I dealt with it.  My husband, concerned about me and knowing that I would not ask for help, had two friends of mine come over to help several nights a week.  They would come over, take care of dinner, watch the kids, and let me take a break in my bedroom.  I’m grateful for them and my husband and somewhere along the way I learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  Allowing others to help literally carry your burden can ease the back pain.

Get some rest.  Sleeping on a La-Z-Boy night after night is not the most restful sleep but it was far better than not breathing or waking up to the circulation being cut-off in my arms and legs.  Having two young children taught me many things, one of which is to sleep when the kids sleep and the second of which is to value rest above sleep.  I honestly do not think I knew what rest meant, to me to rest was to sleep, but my kids taught me otherwise.  I learned that rest means relaxing, stopping what you are doing, letting the dishes pile up if necessary, watching a favorite kid’s TV show, or just observing them playing.  These simple things reminded me that rest does not have to be sleep and resting can alone ease the back pain.

Finding relief for back pain is not a fixed formula.  Sometimes the pain is because of a physical problem and sometimes the pain is because of an emotional problem.  In my case, it was both.  But learning to take a load off, asking for help, and getting some rest provided me with the relieve I needed.  Oh, and our third child, a girl, was born without any complications, hardly any labor, and with minimal medications while my husband was home for the weekend.  God is good.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.