Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a rapidly growing segment of personality disorders (cluster B) that affect an individual’s ability to have successful relationships. In addition, the subject that finds themselves entrenched in a relationship (be it professional or personal) will be challenged in feeling heard, understood, respected and otherwise valued. This article discusses techniques and tools that are effective in managing the Narcissist.
Remembering that NPD is a psychological disorder that negatively impacts the individual’s ability to have and hold relationships, may change how you view that person. So as to not be confused, I am not suggesting that someone stay in an abusive relationship. Specifically work relationships and casual acquaintances may be managed by adopting the perspectives of compassion and patience while retaining emotional distance.
Before reading on, verse yourself in the common tactics used by a Narcissist so that you’re familiar with how things need to change. It may also help to read about the victimology associated with Narcissism.
How to Talk to a Narcissist
Having patience will let you remain in the conversation while those around you disengage or even leave. Viewing the Narcissist with compassion will help you tolerate the conversation and overlook the narcissist’s selfishness and arrogance.
If you stay focused, you will be able to remember what the narcissist wants and what your objectives are in the conversation.
Talking to a narcissist can be uncomfortable, but you can still carry on a decent conversation and perhaps an acquaintance — although it won’t be a deep friendship.
- Limit your expectations, embrace a supportive role and recognize what you are dealing with.
- Listen carefully and offer signals of positive recognition. If possible, be genuine and sincere.
- Make a verbal note of any of the narcissist’s achievements that you truly admire.
- Avoid disagreeing with the narcissist’s opinion or point of view as they won’t tolerate the challenge and may attack.
Don’t worry about causing the narcissist to become more self-centered. He or she has behaved this way since an early age and is unable to stop without professional help (and that’s not typically successful).
What to Say to Disarm a Narcissist
Narcissists have a delusional sense of self-worth and an inability to feel empathy for other people.
They are unable to effectively regulate their emotions or understand the impact that their actions have on other people. As a result, disarming them is not simple.
These statements might get their attention, but it’s not likely to change their behaviors permanently. You should probably focus less on disarming them and more on learning how to implement your boundaries and manage their behaviors.
Let’s talk about the most effective ways to talk to and shut down a narcissist so you can tolerate their irritating and often hurtful behaviors.
Tools To Disarm The Narcissist
The following tips can help you identify toxic behaviors and take back control as you manage the Narcissist in your life.
Becoming aware of the narcissist and their tactics is the first step in reducing their impact on you and managing the Narcissist. The more you learn about the effects of narcissists on their victims, the easier it will be to see how their manipulation has affected you. From there, you can take steps to free yourself from their influence.
2. Keep calm when calling them out for manipulating behaviors.
An emotional reaction will play right into their hands. When they are the calm ones, they can use your lack of control over your emotions against you. This is why so many who’ve grown up around narcissists learn to keep a tight lid on their feelings. Expect that when the Narcissist can’t get you to snap, they’ll slide into the victim role and ride that wave as far as they can.
3. Try to empathize — without excusing their behavior.
The better you understand what’s going on in a Narcissist’s head, the easier it is to see how to respond in the kindest and most effective way. Kind doesn’t mean “nice.” You’re not letting them have their way, but rather making an effort to see things from their perspective (though you know they won’t reciprocate).
4. Refuse to argue with them.
Arguing is pointless. Winning an argument is impossible but even having the Narcissist see your point of view is futile. Even if your argument is sound and theirs is not, they won’t see it. They won’t respect any viewpoint other than their own. If you don’t think as the Narcissist does, your thinking is automatically dismissed.
5. Stand your ground with quiet confidence.
You don’t need them to agree with you. You don’t even need them to let you have your say. Once you’ve made your decision, you just need to stick to it. However vehemently they might blame you for everything, and no matter how passionately they try to convince you that they know better, maintain your position.
6. Remember, it’s not about you.
Depersonalize the Narcissist‘s behavior to detach yourself from it. What they do comes from them; it’s not about you at all. How they treat you and what they say, all come from their own inflated but very fragile ego. You have as much right as anyone to be loved and to find happiness.
7. Learn to say no.
Get comfortable with saying No. Or at least buy yourself some time by responding to one of their demands with, “I don’t know… Let me think about it,” or “This isn’t a good time. I’ll get back to you.”. The narcissist will make demands and think you owe them everything, but you don’t.
8. Work on building self-confidence.
Growing up with a narcissistic parent, being involved in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, or even having a friendship or co-worker relationship, takes a toll on your confidence and self-esteem. It’s time to rebuild — or to build what you’ve never had. For starters, try really spending time alone, journaling and reconnecting to you: what is important to you, what do you value and what do you want?
9. Set boundaries and communicate them.
Connect with the narcissist on your terms, and make those terms clear. If they invite you over, let them know you’d like to, but communicate both your expectations and what the results will be if your boundaries are crossed. So if you say you’ll leave if they are disrespectful, and the narcissist starts to demean you, it’s no time for explanations – just get up and get out.
10. Take stock of your own behaviors.
When you grow up with a narcissistic parent or are around a narcissist for a long time, it’s understandable that you’d pick up some narcissistic behaviors of your own. You might have no boundaries with others because you’ve learned that they don’t respect them anyways. And you might find it difficult to express your feelings, knowing they can be used against you.
11. Talk to someone who can help you sort things out.
This person can be a therapist or coach, but it can also take the form of a support group or friends who understand what you’ve been through. If possible, talk to a professional therapist who can help you sort through your personal baggage and finally learn how to let go.
What Hurts Narcissists the Most
Self-absorbed people are in constant need of validation that they are fabulous people. If they don’t receive this validation, or someone questions their greatness, they often lash out.
What hurts narcissists most is when they are not acknowledged as exceptional, or they are viewed as an ordinary person like everyone else.
This response causes them to elicit the engagement of those around them, but when this attempt fails, they can feel hurt and angry.
Insincere flattery is also something that hurts a narcissist. Deep down, narcissists lack well-grounded self-esteem. Because of this, they need to know the compliments they receive are credible. Anything that comes across as fake can be very hurtful.
When their flaws and weaknesses are exposed and there’s no way to make excuses or cover them up, narcissists can lash out because they feel so vulnerable and weak.
To shut down a narcissist, you have to be more prepared than they are. Let’s go over some effective strategies you can use to shut down a narcissist and help reduce the harm they inflict on you.
PS – If you’d like support, let’s chat.
- Psychology Today “How to leave a Narcissist or Toxic Relationship” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/toxic-relationships/201904/how-leave-narcissist-or-toxic-relationship) Accessed 01/12/23)
- Insider.com “20 steps to leaving an abusive relationship with a narcissist for good” (https://www.insider.com/how-to-leave-a-narcissist-in-14-steps-2018-10#avoid-arguing-at-all-costs-5) Accessed 01/13/23.
- HelpGuide.org. Narcissistic Personality Disorder. “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder.htm) Accessed 12/19/2022.
- Nigel MacLennan. “How To Spot And Deal with Narcissists?” (https://www.psychreg.org/how-spot-deal-narcissists/ ) Accessed 01/24/2023
Katrina Murphy is a Professional Intuitive Mindset and Confidence Coach in Ontario, Canada, serving clients across Canada and internationally. Katrina helps professionals to change the relationship that they have with themselves so they can reconnect both in their relationships and at work. She’s been featured in various publications and is the creator of the Power-Passion-Purpose Framework.