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Use These 10 Phrases to Disarm a Narcissist – These Should Help

By Sanjana Gupta from Very Well Mind

THIS IS A TRICKY ONE TO DEAL WITH, HOW TO MANAGE WITH THESE PEOPLE, AND THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST POSITIVE and HELPFUL ARTICLES I HAVE FOUND ABOUT THIS NEED, SO I THOUGHT I WOULD POST IT FOR YOU. IT’S ALSO IMPORTANT TO LET YOU KNOW THAT MOST TIMES, A PERSON WHO IS NARCISSISTIC HAS HAD A DIFFICULT UPBRINGING WITH PARENTS WHO WERE ABUSIVE or WHO DID NOT GIVE THEM MUCH ATTENTION; SELDOM SHOWED AFFECTION ETC AND THEY FELT UNIMPORTANT; NOT VALUED and UNLOVED. NARCISSISM IS A DISTORTED WAY THEY COPE WITH BAGGAGE THAT IS LEFT FROM THEIR UPBRINGING. AND IT’S KIND OF LIKE THEIR UNMET NEEDS and  ISSUES WITH THEIR PARENTS ARE DIRECTED TOWARDS YOU. IT'S KIND OF A PERMANENT REACTION TO BAD PARENTING.

RELATING WITH SUCH A PERSON CAN MEAN A VERY STRESSFUL LIFE OR RELATIONSHIP FOR YOU IF YOU DON’T LEARN APPROPRIATE WAYS OF HANDLING THAT. YOU MAY FIND THE STRATEGIES IN THIS ARTICLE BENEFICIAL TO YOUR CAUSE. I HOPE SO!

Interacting with a narcissist can leave you feeling confused, frustrated, angry, upset, and used.1 Whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague, or neighbour, dealing with them can be difficult and leave you drained.

In fact, research shows us that the key traits of narcissism, i.e., self-centeredness and lack of empathy for others, can often hinder pleasant interactions with narcissists.2

How to Respond to a Narcissist
These are some strategies that can help you respond to a narcissist.

Stay Calm and Composed

Narcissists often try to provoke emotional reactions to gain a sense of control over others. They may resort to manipulation, lies, or personal attacks to get a rise out of you.

Though it can be difficult in the moment, try your best to stay calm and composed when you’re dealing with them, to avoid giving them control over you.

Keep Your Responses Brief

When you interact with a narcissist, Carvalho recommends keeping your explanations as short and to the point as possible.

When it comes to dealing with a narcissist, less is more. The less you give, the less they will have to use to manipulate you. The more information you provide, the more likely you are to get into a back-and-forth with them.

— ALANA CARVALHO, LMHC

Narcissists also tend to use whatever information you provide to gaslight you by confusing you and making you feel crazy, says Carvalho, so responding briefly is best.

Set Boundaries and Stick to Them

Narcissists tend to have excessive expectations from you, whether it‘s regarding your work, your appearance, or something else, says Dr. Daramus. You may find yourself struggling to meet their expectations and needing to set boundaries in order to protect yourself.

Dr. Daramus recommends thinking through the boundaries you want to set with them—based on what’s realistic for you—and writing them down, so you can refer to your notes and stand your ground when the narcissist is trying to bully or manipulate you.

Get Them to Commit to Things in Writing

Narcissists may try to gaslight you by twisting your words, denying something they said, or flat out lying to you.3 They can change your sense of what’s real, so slowly over time that you don’t even realize it’s happening, says Dr. Daramus.

It can be helpful to get things in writing so you have proof of the truth. “Try to get them to text or email you their expectations and ideas, so that if they try to claim they said something different later on, you have it in their own words,” says Dr. Daramus.

For instance, Dr. Daramus recommends saying: 

  • “Text me the time and place so we don’t have any mix-ups.” 
  • “Since there’s been some miscommunication about my deliverables, please email me your requirements.”
  •  “Since I’m helping cover for people on vacation, I won’t be able to do everything. Please email me your priorities.”

Remember That Their Behavior Isn’t Your Fault

Narcissists can be vicious, and their anger or rejection is out of proportion to anything you‘ve done, says Dr. Daramus. 

Remember that none of their behavior is your fault, even if you’ve made some kind of mistake.

— AIMEE DARAMUS, PSYD

Before you blame yourself, Dr. Daramus recommends putting things in perspective, by thinking about what a reasonable person would do in the same situation and comparing it to the narcissist’s reaction. This exercise can help you see how unreasonable and difficult they’re being.

 Can a Narcissist Change?

10 Things to Say to Disarm a Narcissist

If you find yourself in an argument or confrontation with a narcissist, Carvalho suggests some phrases that can help you disarm them. She also explains how each of these phrases can help you diffuse the situation and disengage from it.

That doesn’t work for me.

Narcissists may try to make decisions for you without consulting you. It’s important to speak up for yourself and let them know if you’re not OK with what they’ve decided.

I can understand how you feel, but I feel differently.

You don’t need to try to prove who is right or wrong. You can feel and see a situation differently and that’s fine. Trying to prove your point will give them more ammunition to use against you.

I don’t see myself that way.

Often, narcissists will try to make themselves feel better by making you feel negatively about yourself.4 It's important that you stay strong in what you believe is true.

I remember it differently.

This is especially important when you’re being told by a narcissist that you might be imagining something or that it never happened. Let them know that you remember what really happened so they can’t manipulate events. Don't let them make you doubt yourself.

I will only have a conversation with you about this if you’re willing to listen and try to understand my perspective.

Setting boundaries for the conversation upfront can help ensure that the conversation is more respectful. Otherwise, you don’t have to discuss that particular subject with them.

I’m not going to explain why this is important to me but it is.

Sometimes, we need to put a boundary in place with a narcissist but we have to be mindful that when we explain why, it gives them an opportunity to manipulate or gaslight us. In such situations, you can uphold what’s important to you without giving big explanations.

I’m not willing to talk about that.

If a narcissist brings up a subject that they know you don’t want to talk about, it’s important to assert that you’re not willing to engage with them. You don’t have to justify your reasons for not wanting to discuss it.

If you continue to speak to me like that, I will walk away.

If the conversation is becoming toxic, you need to make it clear that you will not tolerate their disrespect. State your boundaries clearly but firmly.

I’m going to step away from this conversation.

It’s important to stick to your boundaries. Realize when you need to disengage and step away to get clarity.

Thank you for inviting me, but I’m not available.

If you want to sever contact with the narcissist, politely but firmly let them know that you’re not available or interested.

Seek Help If You Need It

If you’re struggling to deal with a narcissist, it can be helpful to reach out to friends, family members, or a mental health professional for support. They can offer emotional validation, help you maintain your sense of reality, and support you while you set boundaries to protect yourself.

Narcissistic behavior can often cross the line and turn into abuse. If you live with a narcissistic abuser, there are resources that can help.

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1 thought on “Use These 10 Phrases to Disarm a Narcissist – These Should Help

  1. Alberto Barton

    Fantastic read! I was especially impressed by the depth provided on this topic, offering a perspective I hadn't considered. Your insight adds significant value to the conversation. For future articles, could you also clarify more about this topic? It caught my interest, and I'd love to understand more about it. Keep up the excellent work!

    Reply

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