If your work struggles involve a difficult boss who lacks empathy for others and can’t handle criticism, you may be dealing with a narcissist. With all the pressures that come with that, you may be wondering how to resign from a narcissistic boss.
While narcissism is an actual psychological disorder that requires diagnosis, the traits can be difficult to manage at work. Perhaps your boss is constantly seeking recognition. Maybe they display little concern for others.
Think of the boss who abuses and terrorizes employees in meetings. They ridicule the employee in front of colleagues and encourage others to join in the attack. The boss holds themselves up as some special figure whose opinions matter above all others.
Even if undiagnosed, these are still troublesome behaviors suggesting narcissistic tendencies. You may wonder, “Is my narcissistic boss trying to fire me?”
You are ready to leave this toxic workplace, but you are not sure how to exit properly. You are worried and unsure how to resign from a narcissistic boss.
First, you correctly assessed the situation and identified a reasonable plan of action. As tech executive Nora Denzel says,
“Having a bad boss isn’t our fault, but staying with one is.” Remember, you will land on your feet and recover well, but that narcissist and the company that keeps them will continue to do damage.
The good news is, you are leaving your job at a time when many other workers are quitting. Much of 2022 saw record numbers of workers quitting their jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In April, a record 4.5 million workers left their positions.
But you do not want anything hindering your ability to find other work after you leave. Now that you have made the right decision, here are some tips on how to leave narcissist boss.
Be careful and strategic
How to resign from a narcissistic boss is different than it is with normal bosses. They will not respond to your leaving like other bosses would. They may get angry, they may get accusatory, they may even try to berate you.
Everything you do, therefore, is designed to make this a smooth exit. You must be thoughtful and strategic because you have to take into account that a true narcissist boss will have these traits:
- They do not want to know the truth, especially if it is negative. They will react poorly to it because they do not like themselves, so do not bother telling them the truth about why you are leaving.
- They do not comprehend the idea of morality or ethics. Do not believe that guilt or social constraints will affect their behavior.
- They believe revenge is a necessity. If they think you will slight them, they will obsess over getting back at you in any way they can.
Do not use truth as an explanation
Now that you know that narcissists do not behave like others do, your exit strategy must account for this. That means the first thing you should do is abandon the truth about why you are leaving. It does you no good to tell your narcissistic boss that you are leaving because of them.
Tell your boss you must move to another part of the country because of a death in the family. You can tell them it is not what you would want to do, but it is something you must do. Make it clear to them that you consider them a good boss, one that was an amazing mentor.
Of course, you know this is not true. But you are neutralizing the narcissist to avoid making your exit unpleasant, and potentially problematic.
Act quickly and decisively
After you give your narcissistic boss an explanation, tell them you must leave immediately. Tell them you must attend to family and personal matters. If they ask for details, tell them it is something you are not comfortable discussing.
Tell them you will clean out your desk and make yourself available to colleagues to discuss any projects that must be handed over. Do not tell colleagues at work why you are leaving. Even if they have agreed in past conversations that your boss is difficult, they may speak of you negatively after you leave.
Explain that your partner got a great job offer
If you are uncomfortable leaving without at least a two-week notice, then try giving two weeks this way. Explain that your partner received an incredible job offer out of state and you must leave for their sake. Make sure your story is thoughtful and it makes sense.
Again, do not tell your colleagues the truth because this will likely be shared after you leave. Consider changing your phone number and moving forward by leaving everything about that job behind you. Finish your two weeks and make sure to sever all relationships with coworkers.
Do not expect a good reference from that boss
Even if you manage to persuade that narcissistic boss that you do not want to leave, they likely will not give you a good reference. You could ask them to quickly give you a letter of recommendation before you leave the office so you have it in writing. But honestly, if your next employer calls them it may not be helpful to you.
Consider using other people at your job as references. If you worked under other supervisors, you could use them. If you worked with other supervisors on projects, you might be able to use them as references. You may also be able to have other colleagues serve as references for you.
Be prepared not to offer a reference from this company if necessary. Use others from other points in your career.
Stay calm, but firm when discussing your resignation
It is possible that the conversation will turn hostile after you tell your boss you are leaving. Just remember to stay calm and make sure you set boundaries. The best thing you can do is just say very little after you state your intentions.
Do not take the bait from your agitated boss. Do not apologize for your situation. Just let your boss talk as much as they like, and explain that you are sorry that there is nothing you can do.
It is possible your boss will make promises of better pay, maybe remote work options, perhaps even a promotion. Remember, they will do whatever they can to persuade you to stay. You just have to remain focused on getting out of there with as little drama as possible.
How to write a resignation letter for a narcissistic boss
You will want to write a brief resignation letter to provide your boss when you announce your intention to leave your job. Make sure you stick to the basics in a very brief resignation letter. Keep it simple with only the date of your last day on the job and a sentence expressing gratitude for the opportunity.
If your company has a human resources department or director, copy them on the resignation letter. Do not put anything in the letter that criticizes your boss. If your HR director requests an exit interview, do not get into the details about why you are leaving.
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