Having a normal conversation with a narcissist is not always the easiest thing. If you don't present the words correctly, it can easily end in irritation, anger and tantrums. So, we'll tell you how to talk to narcissists…
Narcissists usually think extremely highly of themselves and have difficulty feeling empathy for others, always putting themselves first.
People with narcissistic traits never believe they are wrong. There's always someone to blame, and they rarely apologize. They are bad at controlling their emotions and their frustration.
You can say that narcissists are like three-year-olds stuck in an adult's body. Just like three-year-olds can have sudden emotional outbursts, so can narcissists.
They control people around them through their outbursts because affected people can find them really uncomfortable.
Narcissists always considers themselves to be much more important than everyone else around them, which means that these people are constantly exposed to a variety of factors.
Wealth, success, power and love are what drive narcissists forward. However, most of them are just fantasies and lies about their success stories.
A narcissist has an excessive need to be the center of attention, so if you want to feed their large ego, you can't give them enough affirmation. Be aware, though, that you won't get anything in return.
Narcissists also have very unrealistic views about their rights.
Since they believe that everything in the world revolves around them, they set their own rules that they expects everyone else to follow without asking questions.
They completely lack empathy and, therefore, have no ability whatsoever to understand the feelings of others.
This is one of the strongest personality traits a narcissist has, which is also why all their relationships are eventually destroyed.
They also think that everyone else is jealous of them, when, in fact, it's them who are jealous of everyone around them.
This leads to conflicts with other people, where the narcissist's only goal is to destroy those they envy.
Narcissists shamelessly exploit other people to achieve their own goals.
If your relationship with the narcissist is a work relationship, you and your colleagues can be prepared for your work situation to be negatively affected in some way. A narcissist will happily take credit for the success of others.
How to talk to a narcissist
As long as you agree with a narcissist, and as long as they get what they want, you will have a good relationship. But as soon as you think differently or want something different from what they are ready to give you, a conflict is unavoidable.
It only takes a second for a narcissist to go from best friend to enemy with someone. In fact, the narcissist sees everyone as an enemy—deep inside, they don't trust anyone.
They have a hard time dealing with the fact that people think differently or want something different. They demonstrate little, almost zero understanding and respect for other people.
So, the question is what you should do when you need to stand up and assert your opinion or stand firm in a negative response against the narcissist? To begin with, you need to be calmly aware of where you stand and what you really want.
This can be very difficult, but you just need to be aware of your own self in front of the narcissist. If you remove your fear of how they will react to what you have to say, where would your boundary be in the conversation?
The narcissist will probably use pressure, but you can always say that you need time to think. However, it is important that you are clear about when and how you will respond.
The most important thing is that you have time to land where you stand and that you don't rush a response under their pressure.
Once you know where you stand, it's time for you to prepare mentally. Start by modelling the conversation you want to have with the narcissist. Try to find answers to the arguments you think they will present.
Try to come up with arguments that benefit the narcissist because everything in their world is about them. Otherwise, you can speak as much as you want about why you think or act in a certain way, but they just won't listen to you.
But if the narcissist eventually gets something out of what you say, there's a chance they'll change their mind and eventually accept your proposal. You need to know for yourself what your purpose is before starting a conversation with the narcissist.
Then comes the hard part of talking to them. Respond as you promised and prepare your nerves. Then speak your mind.
Say very briefly what you have to say—you don't have to make an effort and come up with long explanations, as they don't really care about your opinions and thoughts, because they think you are wrong.
At the same time, present your arguments that may work in the narcissist's favor. It is important that you stick to your opinions and are clear about any consequences or what you will do after the conversation.
You MUST be consistent and carry out what you have said.
Also, be prepared for the narcissist to try to lead you off topic into something else. Don't follow this lead, but instead try to redirect the conversation to the topic you are talking about and are in, but don't forget to be calm.
Calmly resist their emotional attacks. Be straightforward, don't pay attention to any emotions.
In this case, it is important that you remind yourself of your mental preparation—what you wanted to get at with this conversation.
After the conversation, take time to evaluate how it went. Consider what you did well and what you could have done better so that you know it for next time.
But don't forget to be proud of yourself and congratulate yourself on your hard work and patience. Be kind to yourself. Now, you know how much energy such a conversation requires.
5 things you should never say to a narcissist
There are some things you should avoid saying to a narcissist if you want to avoid their tantrums. Here are 5 phrases you definitely shouldn't say to them:
1. “You wouldn't have done it this way”
It doesn't matter at all if you say it as constructive criticism—a person with narcissistic traits will only hear that they have done something wrong and that you think you can do better.
It threatens their self-esteem extremely. Anything that has to do with criticism and lifting someone up does not agree with a narcissist's mindset.
Instead, you can say something a little milder, like “let's work it out together”.
2. “You are wrong”
Narcissists respond very poorly to straightforward confrontation. Because they have difficulty feeling empathy, they may respond by saying something you could never say to someone yourself.
However, this does not mean that you should avoid saying what you think and feel.
If you want to avoid a violent reaction, try presenting your opinion in a softer way, for example “I definitely hear what you're saying, but I see it in a different way”.
3. “What's wrong with you?”
Even if you sometimes feel like saying this in a particular situation, try to bite your tongue. Although it seems to be the opposite, narcissists have a really low self-esteem.
They hate feeling pampered and devalued, even though that's how they make others feel.
Instead, try to figure out what's really going on in the narcissist's head and try to express yourself in a way that shows you understand them and just want to help them, such as “Do you want to talk about it?”
4. “But you've never..”
“You've never seen that movie”, “You've never been to this country” or “You've never eaten at that restaurant” and similar phrases.
Sometimes it can be hard not to check the narcissist's fibs and alternative truths that they may tell just to make a story they tell about sound good.
Saying that the narcissist is embellishing or exaggerating the truth is not a good idea, especially if other people are around. A narcissist can become extremely irritated if they feel embarrased in public.
A tip instead is to let these people find out the truth when you are alone with them, without the narcissist around.
5. “It's not true”
Because narcissists are too busy satisfying their big egos, they are always wary of anything that might destroy their extremely large self-image.
Narcissists don't often bother to stick to the whole truth, the most important thing for them is that they present it for their own benefit.
Even if you know that what the narcissist is saying is not true, and you try to present it in a calm and friendly way, they will still see it as an attack on them from your side. Then, the situation usually escalates.
No matter how you express yourself, even if you try to do it carefully and kindly, always remember that narcissists change very rarely.
Narcissism is a lifelong personality trait. It also tends to get worse with age.
To do yourself a favor, distance yourself from them and adjust your own expectations to the specific person and situation.
You have to accept that you can't expect empathy and respect. You also need to know that you can't find a compromise with a narcissist. It will probably always be on their terms.