Craig Malkin: If you’re dealing with a boss who is just sort of arrogant and can be aloof and difficult to deal with, there are two approaches that are very effective. One is that any time they show any capacity for caring or concern, say, for example, they give you some encouragement. You really want to jump on that. Ignore the advice about stroking your boss’s ego for what they’ve done. That actually, according to research, makes them worse. It makes them more destructive. But if you focus your intentions on those moments to say to your boss something like, “I really appreciated the encouragement you gave me yesterday. It helped me get to the finish line.” That kind of feedback, that is a way of connecting with your boss and really helping them warm up to you a little bit and can actually reduce their narcissistic tendencies.
The other thing to keep in mind is if you are looking for a promotion. If you are approaching a boss who’s narcissistic, this isn’t going to be like the average boss who’s maybe thinking about the whole system or organization, so you want to make sure you frame whatever plan you’re bringing to them, you want to make sure that you are appealing to what’s in it for them? That’s the first thing you want to make sure that you’re answering as a question. You want to be able to say, “Look. If I do this, I know you’ve been looking for growth in the company, I can bring that to you. If you put me in this position, I can bring that to the table for you. So I think it’d make sense to give me this opportunity.”