Are you frustrated because your partner never seems to hear what you're saying? Do they only see their point of view? You might be dealing with a narcissist. Narcissists have trouble listening and understanding others because they are so focused on themselves. To effectively communicate with a narcissist, you need to understand their perspective and use tactics that will get their attention. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Don't take things personally
When dealing with a narcissist, know that their behavior has nothing to do with you. Narcissists are driven by a deep sense of insecurity and may resort to manipulation or bullying to feel superior. Therefore, it’s crucial to remind yourself that their misbehavior is not a reflection of your character but rather the result of inner conflicts and personal struggles.
When you disagree with a narcissist, it isn’t usually doesn’t go well. Therefore, if you’re going to talk about something you disagree about, you should choose what’s most important and let everything else go. A narcissist will do anything to make you feel small and insignificant and an argument is a great opportunity for them to do that.
Keep interactions brief
When dealing with a narcissist, it's best to keep your interactions as brief as possible. Listen more than you speak and don’t reveal any unnecessary personal information. Keep a half-smile on your face and pay attention.
Focus on the topic at hand
When you get into a conversation with a narcissist, you may notice that they consistently go on tangents, talking about things that are unrelated to the original topic. This is because they feel more powerful the more that you listen to them. As you become aware of this behavior, you can politely steer the conversation back to the original topic.
Avoid getting affected by the insult
Narcissists are masters of manipulation. They know what to say to get you into an argument. And they'll use everything against you, from past mistakes to current actions. To deal with a narcissist, ignore their insults; this will diffuse the situation and avoid a fight. If you engage with the narcissist, they will only hurt you more. Don't feel compelled to explain or defend yourself. Just bite your tongue and focus on what you need to talk about. If all else fails, make up a reason to end the conversation.
Remain calm and compliment
Remain calm when engaging with a narcissist by practicing deep abdominal breaths. This will enable you to think through how you’ll respond instead of reacting emotionally. You’ll more able to implement the above techniques. Also, make positive statements about the narcissist and be extremely polite. This will help them see you not as an enemy and therefore they may be less adversarial with you.
The narcissist is a difficult person to have a conversation with, but there are ways to make it work. Remember not to take things personally and remain calm so that you can think through how to respond rather than reacting emotionally and defensively. With practice, you’ll get better at being able to lessen the conflict and avoid being drawn into negative interactions.
Jill Barnett Kaufman, MSW, LCSW and Certified Parent Educator is an experienced clinician who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges and bring more happiness and peace into their lives.