The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use our anonymous form, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

The boss/owner of the company I work for shows all the signs of having a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. His management techniques reflect the classic definitions of a bully. I adore my co-workers and the work in this high-profile local business. Do you have any wisdom with regard to surviving in this environment (short of finding a new job?) Having read a fair amount on the subject of bullying, I remain unclear as to whether it is better to act VERY strong and set some firm boundaries or be as subservient and docile as possible to avoid the negative impact of the boss-owner’s negative attention.


Dear D:

It is extremely difficult to get a narcissist to change. Since everything is always about them and their needs, the only way narcissists will alter their bad behavior is to make them see they will get more if they behave better.

If you act VERY strong with any boss/owner, you will probably be fired. Acting docile is a possibility – especially if you can train yourself to ignore the boss’s childish outbursts. For example, during the tantrums, concentrate on how much you like your job and how you are not going to let this bad behavior make you leave. Imagine yourself putting your fingers in your ears and humming!

Of course, you could take the direct approach and use the “sandwich technique.” That means sandwiching the bad news between two compliments, thereby making it easier for the listener to hear you without getting defensive. For example, “I love working here. But when you yell it is so upsetting that I churn inside for days. Is there some way I could let you know when you are upsetting me, so you will stop yelling at me? Because I love working for you except for that.”

If everyone who works at the business agrees that the bullying is upsetting, you might get farther if you plan a group sandwich session! But, beware, things could get ugly if the narcissist thinks you are trying to get everyone to gang up against him/her.

The Career Doctor


The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.


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