What to Say to Disarm a Narcissist?

Ian Stockbridge has recently featured in UpJournal to discuss narcissism.

It can be difficult to deal with someone who is narcissistic, especially if they are in a position of power or influence.

Narcissists can be incredibly manipulative and destructive, so it’s important to know how to confront them and protect yourself.

Attempt not to go into a defensive mode

It can be difficult and complex to communicate with a narcissist. A narcissist may attempt to blame and manipulate you whilst painting themselves as the victim. They will also hold what you say against you, which can make conversing with them extremely stressful and even traumatizing.

So what can we say to disarm a narcissist?

Firstly, let’s take a look at what a narcissist is.

Narcissism can be defined as severe self-involvement that makes that person ignore the needs and emotions of those around them. A narcissist will frequently disregard the feelings of others, deeming them to be unimportant and of little or no value.

Narcissism is a trait in itself, but it can also be part of a larger personality disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Whilst, not every narcissist will be classified as having NPD, those at the more extreme end of the spectrum will be.

So what are the traits of narcissism?

  • They may appear charming and charismatic, particularly during the start of a new relationship.
  • They may not show any negative behaviors straight away. They may start to appear unempathetic, entitled, superior, snobby, and emotionally detached.
  • They will engage in manipulative behavior.
  • They may seek admiration, validation, and praise from others.
  • They may also present as very arrogant.

Because the traits of narcissism and NPD won’t necessarily fit with the image that person has of themselves, it is often unlikely that they will change their behavior or even agree to change it, as they believe their behavior is not the problem.

A Narcissist may soon begin to become hostile, critical, and antagonizing towards you.

At first, this may have seemed like gentle teasing but then may have quickly taken a darker turn. They may put you down, tease you, play on your insecurities or past traumas and even call you names.

When you attempt to stand up for yourself or call out their behavior, they can then start to gaslight you, which means they will lie, try to distort your reality, or accuse you of misremembering something, for example.

This is a form of emotional abuse which will chip away at your self-confidence and sense of worth, making it very hard for you to protect yourself from their behavior and see what it is for what it is.

So what can we say to disarm a narcissist?

A narcissist wants you to react to what they are saying and how they are behaving. One of the ways to prevent their enjoyment is to attempt not to go into a defensive mode.

You can use phrases like:

  • “I see your opinion.”
  • “You are entitled to your opinion.”
  • “You have given me something to think about. You have an interesting perspective.”
  • “I understand that you are upset and angry, and I am willing to hear what you have to say.”
  • “I realize this is a difficult situation for you.”
  • “We both deserve a chance to have our opinions heard.”
  • “I understand where you are coming from, but I would like to share my thoughts too.”
  • “I am ready to hear you out, but we can only have a conversation if neither of us is shouting.”
  • “Let’s discuss how we can handle this better.”
  • “I am willing to consider your thoughts and wishes.”

By using some of these key phrases when conversing with a narcissist, you will be using flattery to try and turn the attention away from you, and you will be appearing to emphasize with them in an attempt to calm them.

You will be making them feel as though you are prepared to listen to them and you will be establishing clear boundaries whilst asserting yourself efficiently.

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