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What methods of communication can you use to get through to an extreme narcissist who hates others' opinions?

Written By

Sam Vaknin

Author, Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited

Briefly Speaking

The narcissist regards all criticism as a threat to his or her inflated, grandiose false self. These are methods of communication to get through to a narcissist.
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The narcissist regards every criticism and disagreement as a threat to the precarious balance between his or her inflated, grandiose false self and the demands imposed by reality.

Here are a few useful methods of communication:

FIVE DON'T DO'S  How to Avoid the Wrath of the Narcissist 

  • Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him.
  • Never offer him any intimacy.
  • Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him -- for instance, by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on.
  • Never remind him of life out there and, if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity.
  • Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgment, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence.

The TEN DO'S – Methods of Communication to Make your Narcissist Dependent on You If you INSIST on Staying with Him 

  • Listen attentively to everything the narcissist says and agree with it all. Don't believe a word of it but let it slide as if everything is just fine, business as usual.
  • Be endlessly patient and go way out of your way to be accommodating, thus keeping the narcissistic supply flowing liberally, and keeping the peace.
  • Be absolutely emotionally and financially independent of the narcissist. Take what you need: the excitement and engulfment and refuse to get upset or hurt when the narcissist does or says something dumb, rude, or insensitive.

    Yelling back works really well but should be reserved for special occasions when you fear your narcissist may be on the verge of leaving you; the silent treatment is better as an ordinary response, but it must be carried out without any emotional content, more with the air of boredom and "I'll talk to you later, when I am good and ready, and when you are behaving in a more reasonable fashion".
     Treat your narcissist as you would a child.
  • If you are a "fixer", then focus on fixing situations, preferably before they become "situations". Don't for one moment delude yourself that you can fix the narcissist – it simply will not happen.
  • If there is any fixing that can be done, it is to help your narcissist become aware of their condition, with no negative implications or accusations in the process at all. It is like living with a physically handicapped person and being able to discuss, calmly, unemotionally, what the limitations and benefits of the handicap are and how the two of you can work with these factors, rather than trying to change them.
  • Finally, and most important of all: Know YourselfWhat are you getting from the relationship? Are you actually a masochist? A codependent? Why is this relationship attractive and interesting? Define for yourself what good and beneficial things you believe you are receiving in this relationship. Define the things that you find harmful to you.

    Develop strategies to minimize the harm to yourself.  Don't expect that you will cognitively be able to reason with the narcissist to change who he is. You may have some limited success in getting your narcissist to tone down on the really harmful behaviors that affect you – but this can only be
    accomplished in a very trusting, frank and open relationship.

Insist on Your Boundaries – Resist Abuse

  • Refuse to accept abusive behavior. Demand reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions. Insist on respect for your boundaries, predilections, preferences, and priorities.
     
  • Demand a just and proportional treatment. Reject or ignore unjust and capricious behavior.
     
  • If you are up to the inevitable confrontation, react in kind. Let him taste some of his own medicine.
     
  • Never show your abuser that you are afraid of him. Do not negotiate with bullies. They are insatiable. Do not succumb to blackmail.
     
  • If things get rough- disengage, involve law enforcement officers, friends and colleagues, or threaten him (legally).
     
  • Do not keep your abuse a secret. Secrecy is the abuser's weapon.
     
  • Never give him a second chance. React with your full arsenal to the first transgression.
     
  • Be guarded. Don't be too forthcoming in a first or casual meeting. Gather intelligence.
     
  • Be yourself. Don't misrepresent your wishes, boundaries, preferences, priorities, and red lines.
     
  • Do not behave inconsistently. Do not go back on your word. Be firm and resolute.
     
  • Stay away from such quagmires. Scrutinize every offer and suggestion, no matter how innocuous.
     
  • Prepare backup plans. Keep others informed of your whereabouts and appraised of your situation.
     
  • Be vigilant and doubting. Do not be gullible and suggestible. Better safe than sorry.
     
  • Often the abuser's proxies are unaware of their role. Expose him. Inform them. Demonstrate to them how they are being abused, misused, and plain used by the abuser.
     
  • Trap your abuser. Treat him as he treats you. Involve others. Bring it into the open. Nothing like sunshine to disinfest abuse.

(1b) Mirror His Behavior

Mirror the narcissist’s actions and repeat his words.

If, for instance, he is having a rage attack – rage back. If he threatens – threaten back and credibly try to use the same language and content. If he leaves the house – leave it as well, disappear on him. If he is suspicious – act suspicious. Be critical, denigrating, humiliating, go down to his level.

(1c) Frighten Him

Identify the vulnerabilities and susceptibilities of the narcissist and strike repeated, escalating blows at them.

If a narcissist has a secret or something he wishes to conceal – use your knowledge of it to threaten him. Drop cryptic hints that there are mysterious witnesses to the events and recently revealed evidence. Do it cleverly, noncommittally, gradually, and in an escalating manner.

Let his imagination do the rest. You don't have to do much except utter a vague reference, make an ominous allusion, delineate a possible turn of events.

Needless to add that all these activities have to be pursued legally, preferably through the good services of law offices and in broad daylight. If done in the wrong way – they might constitute extortion or blackmail, harassment and a host of other criminal offences.

(1d) Lure Him

Offer him continued Narcissistic Supply. You can make a narcissist do anything by offering, withholding, or threatening to withhold Narcissistic Supply (adulation, admiration, attention, sex, awe, subservience, etc.).

(1e) Play on His Fear of Abandonment

If nothing else works, explicitly threaten to abandon him.

You can condition the threat as; "If you don't do something or if you do it – I will desert you."

The narcissist perceives the following as threats of abandonment, even if they are not meant as such:

  • Confrontation, fundamental disagreement, and protracted criticism
  • When completely ignored
  • When you insist on respect for your boundaries, needs, emotions, choices, preferences
  • When you retaliate (for instance, shout back at him).

Manage your narcissist. Notice patterns in his bullying. Is he more aggressive on Monday mornings and more open to suggestions on Friday afternoon? Is he amenable to flattery? Can you modify his conduct by appealing to his morality, superior knowledge, good manners, cosmopolitanism, or upbringing? Manipulating the narcissist is the only way to survive in a relationship with him.

Sam Vaknin

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