Toxicity is bad news whether you’re a small mining town in Arizona or an employee at the mercy of a narcissistic boss.

The enemies in Eight Legged Freaks (2002) are spiders that have grown to gigantic sizes after being exposed to toxic waste in a small town called Prosperity, Arizona. I can’t say whether toxic leaders share the same origins, but one thing is certain: when we don’t fight back, they grow in number.

Unfortunately, unlike the giant spiders from Mars in Eight Legged Freaks, toxic bosses aren’t vulnerable to perfume. But there are warning signs that we can look out for and mistakes we can avoid, says psychologist Ronald Riggio in this CNBC article.

“Well, spiders have a highly developed sense of smell. The perfume might confuse them”

– Mike Parker, Prosperity’s resident child genius (when it comes to arachnology, at least)

Ronald’s tips are…

  • Don’t mistake arrogance and narcissism for strength: A narcissistic boss believes they’re always right and that can make us view them as competent
  • Don’t fall into ‘cognitive laziness’: Try to remember that your boss isn’t above the rules and that you have the right to challenge them
  • Don’t always equate good results with good leadership: Forget the idea that the ends justifies the means and that collateral damage is inevitable in the journey to success
  • Don’t be wooed by the power of association: Distance yourself instead of feeding into your boss’s bad traits to get on their good side
  • Hide in the town mall and barricade the doors against a giant tarantula

So if you’re getting ready for another workday under a toxic boss, don’t waste your Chanel No. 5; try to avoid the four traps employees tend to fall into instead.

And in case it needs to be said: don’t let them near any toxic waste. Otherwise they might become huge and try to eat your Aunt Gladys.


“So you’re trying to tell me that a giant spider ate Gladys?”

Sheriff Sam Parker

This article was originally a thumbstopper in Vivowire, our expertly curated weekly newsletterSign up to get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox!