Tag Archives: dealing with a narcissist

Narcissism Part 5: How to Deal with a Narcissist.

“Roar of the Raptor” by Mimi Stuart©

Don’t Trust a Narcissist

Avoid seeking a trusting intimate relationship with a narcissist. If you decide to enjoy the narcissist’s charm and charisma, do not get carried away into trusting him or her with inner secrets. Do not set yourself up for betrayal and hurt by having confidence in his or her loyalty. Do not let your feelings of self-worth depend on a narcissist’s love, actions or behavior.

Speak to the Narcissist’s Self-interest

It is generally helpful in a relationship to express your feelings or needs. But if you are dealing with a true narcissist, do not expect empathy and understanding. You will be more effective in communicating with a narcissist when you show how certain actions or behavior might benefit him or her.

Don’t Disagree

Beware of disagreeing with or contradicting narcissists. They behave as though they are strong and confident but they are easily offended. They do not want to be viewed as inadequate. If you confront their weaknesses, they may become vengeful and punishing. Keep your discussion focused on practical goals rather than personal accountability.

Be on your Guard

Narcissists hide their own flaws and project problems on to other people. Beware of allowing them to blame you for too much. If you are doing business with a narcissist, keep a paper trail. In marriage or divorce, hire a good attorney.

Separating from Narcissistic Parents

It is sad to be raised by narcissistic parents, because they view their children as extensions of their own false self-image they present to the world. If the child disagrees with a narcissistic parent, that parent becomes hostile and volatile. If the child does not embrace the family image or the image the parent projects onto the child, the narcissistic parent rejects or loses interest in the child. It is helpful not to take this personally, but rather to see that the parent’s callousness and preoccupation with family image are caused by his or her own low self-esteem.

Don’t hope for Change

It takes a lot of motivation for anyone to change. Unfortunately, narcissists rarely have the desire to change because they don’t think they need to, as they are not self-reflective. Their underlying problem is a weak sense of self. Thus, they focus on developing a strong outer shell consisting of their image. They rarely seek counseling, but if they do go, they tend to manipulate the situation in order to look good rather than become self-aware to improve their lives.

If you are in relationship with a narcissist, it is helpful to recognize their traits in order to protect yourself. You can then choose when to encourage the narcissist’s self-image, when to fortify your sense of humor, and when to avoid dealing with him or her all together.

Avoid being Narcissistic

Note that it is natural and healthy for a child to go through a narcissistic stage. Even as adults, most of us still have some mild narcissistic tendencies. So while it feels good to be praised and complimented, we should beware of becoming dependent on others for their validation, admiration, and approval to boost our feelings of self-worth. Psychological dependence on others comes at a cost. Thus, it is important to be reflective to make sure we are considering and balancing our own self-interest with the wellbeing of others.

There is a big difference, however, between being simply insecure or self-centered and having the condition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If you are self-reflective enough to even wonder whether you are a narcissist, let alone read a psychology blog, it is highly unlikely that you are!

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read Narcissism Part 1: Symptoms

Read “Dealing with the narcissist.”

References: “Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders.”

“What is the best way to deal with a dishonest, condescending, Machiavellian narcissist at work, whom I need to partner with to obtain my objectives?”

"Impact—Out of the Sandtrap" Lee Elder by Mimi Stuart ©

“Impact—Out of the Sandtrap” Lee Elder by Mimi Stuart ©

Preserve the narcissist’s self-image.

A true narcissist suffering from narcissistic personality disorder is predominantly concerned with his or her image and lacks empathy for others. So to have effective working relations, it becomes important not to shatter his or her image by implying that he or she is wrong or flawed. When narcissists are put on the defensive, they can become malicious without caring about the harm they cause others. So it is best to treat them with respect, even if it has to be feigned.

Appeal to the narcissist’s self-interest.

Avoid criticism, as a narcissist’s reaction to criticism can be extreme. Instead, start with flattery, and then phrase an objection delicately appealing to the narcissist’s public reputation, such as, “What if we considered doing it this way…? They would be impressed.” A narcissist wants more than anything to appear superior and to gain prestige. So motivate the narcissist by showing how your proposal will satisfy his or her interests. You may have to share credit. Chances are your superiors and those you work with will know whose idea it really was.

Protect yourself.

You need to be wary and protect yourself around a true narcissist. Be on your guard against sudden warmth and charm from the narcissist. It is likely to be a manipulative ploy to gain information and power. Don’t discuss any of your own weaknesses or vulnerabilities, and do not disclose any kind of secrets. Don’t gossip or say anything negative about other people. Anything you say can be used against you. Keep a very good paper trail.

This is not how you would want to relate with another person in a friendship or equal partnership, but it is the best way to be effective in a relationship that you are forced to have with a narcissist.

In essence, be respectful and diplomatic, but remain vigilant and protect yourself.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Judgment: ‘My co-worker is an idiot.’”

Read Sam Vaknin’s “How can you tell a TRUE friend from a FAKE one?”