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Bullies, Borderline Bosses And Narcissists: How To Survive

We’re hearing a lot about psychological safety, narcissism and subconscious bias in the workplace lately. But what’s beneath many of these challenges is BPD—Borderline Personality Disorder—a topic many tread lightly around. Why? Because unlike anxiety, depression, bipolar or other diagnoses, borderline isn’t easily treatable or curable. And very few people are actually diagnosed with this very difficult condition as "true" borderlines. True borderlines require navigation and survival strategies. So grab your galoshes, because we’re going in, friends. We're all a little bit borderline, so bear this in mind when you read the below. Here’s what BPD is, and how it’s part of your work and life. Then next week I’ll show you what to do about it.

What Is Borderline? 1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment 2. A pattern of unstable and intense relationships 3. Unstable self-image or sense of self 4. Intense moodiness, rapid mood changes 5. Inappropriate, intense anger 6. Stress-induced paranoid thoughts or dissociative symptoms (loses touch with reality) Heck, we all know someone that fits that criteria.

So what causes it? According to Christine Ann Lawson’s awesome work people suffering from BPD have suffered one or more of the following traumas in their past: • Inadequate emotional support following parental abandonment (through death or divorce) • Parental abuse, emotional neglect or chronic denigration • Being labeled as the “no good” child by a borderline mother When a child suffers one of the above their ability to attach in a healthy way is damaged. Then we’ll see anxiety, avoidance, ambivalence/resistance, or disorganization in their experience of attaching to others.

We’re All A Little Bit Borderline Per Lawson, there are four types of borderline personalities:

1. The Waif: This person is helpless, sad, lonely and feels like a victim. They are trying to get others to give them sympathy and care-giving. They can be socially engaging then turn on you, seek help then reject it, and gives away, loses or destroys good things. Their mantra is “life is way too hard.” When you have a Waif in the office they'll be emotionally exhausting and frustrating to be around.

2. The Hermit: This person lives in fear of threat and persecution from a dangerous world. They are trying to get others to share their anxiety and need for protection. They are a perfectionist and worrier, and if you misstep they’ll shut you out. Their mantra is “life is too dangerous.” When you have a Hermit in the workplace you'll want to follow in their path, clearing up the fear they are spreading.

3. The Queen/King: This person feels empty, deprived, angry, and has an insatiable longing that cannot be fulfilled. They’re demanding, flamboyant, intimidating and feel entitled to invade the boundaries of others. They can appear all-powerful provided no one questions them. They want others to comply. Period. Their mantra is “Life is all about me, and should be even more about me. I am important and you are not.” A Queen/King in the office is tough--they'll make others feel inferior and dismissed.

4. The Witch/Warlock: This person feels self-hatred and conviction that they are evil. They need power and control over others for basic self-esteem. The more fear and submission they can get from others, the more self-importance they derive. They are domineering, you’ll see them rage and violate the boundaries of others. Hostility masks their fear. Their mantra is “Life is war.” The Witch/Warlock is often the trickiest as they're just plan dark and emotionally volatile. By now I’ll bet you’ve seen some of the above qualities in many people you know—including yourself. Here’s a quick quiz, followed by a secret decoder (look at it afterwards!) further down this blog.

Borderline Quiz Check off any of the below statements that seem familiar, coming from your boss or other key people in your workplace. And if you say or think these things, put an X mark by it. Then you can reflect on where you learned this behavior!

Borderline Quiz Secret Decoder Here’s the Secret Decoder System for the above quiz. Check out which Borderline types are most prevalent in your work and life. Then in my next blog we’ll cover how to survive and even thrive when interacting with these tricky types! I hope taking the above test will help you see how common, and how challenging these behaviors are. It's key to approach these scenarios with compassion, kindness, and yes, caution. Next week we'll go into coping strategies for this complex situation. Source:


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