They are everywhere. Narcissists. And it seems that the narcissist epidemic is on the rise.
Narcissists are people with an inflated perception of themselves that defies reality. This can make them crave importance, admiration, and acceptance. They may also have the tendency to boast and bring every conversation and experience back to themselves.
Narcissism can be compared to ego, but this is a higher level of ego minus even the basic level of empathy.
In reality, narcissists are damaged people. They suffer from an insecurity that is often caused by childhood trauma like abuse, neglect, injury or anything that made the child feel less than worthy.
They try to compensate for their lack of self-esteem by making themselves believe that they are good, perfect, and the best.
And it is when someone threatens their perception of being the best, does it bring to fore the feeling of worthlessness and shame. If you try to criticize, confront or even argue with them, they will either shut down completely or become distant or critical and hostile.
It’s quite tricky to deal with them. Their lack of empathy for others and their belief of being right and perfect makes it difficult to deal with them.
Often their need for admiration makes them manipulative. They say what they know people want to hear and they can be dangerous. Since it’s challenging to deal with them, we have rounded up some simple strategies to help you deal with a narcissist the right way.
- Stay away. Narcissists lack empathy and they usually make people around them miserable. It’s very difficult to change them. So, the best thing you can do is stay away from them.
- It’s better to shut up. If you are in the less powerful position while dealing with a narcissist, you may not really have a choice. It’s better to keep your mouth shut until you can find a way to be away from the narcissist you are dealing with. No amount of argument or rejection will help. On the contrary, it may make things worse for you.
- Pitch your ideas to a group. If the narcissist you are dealing with is your boss, always try to pitch a new idea in a group setting, rather than to the boss alone. This will make it difficult for him to steal your idea and take credit.
- When you are blamed, resist the urge to pass it on. When your boss blames you for a problem, resist the urge to pass it on to a subordinate. By doing so, you are passing it down to the organizational chart. It’s better to explain things if it’s not your fault and make sure to do it on email or something storable or traceable.
- Don’t emulate. If you are not careful, narcissist traits can rub off on you, and you may start to emulate their actions, especially if you are dealing with a narcissist on a day-to-day basis. Try to keep a check on yourself. Make sure to be your true self as much as you possibly can.
- Avoid reasoning with them. Don’t try to reason with a narcissist. It’s of no use because they think what they believe is right. So, don’t waste your time and energy trying to reason with them. In case of confrontations, stop arguing, and end the conversation there. When you don’t react to their antics, it irritates them and they realize that you will not change your ways because of what they are doing. It takes away the power from them.
- Ignore their tantrums. It’s important for a narcissist to throw tantrums. It’s their way of getting things done their way. So ignore it and walk away. Don’t give it any importance. Eventually, you will notice that soon they will resort to some other method to get their things done.
- Avoid being aggressive. Stay away from aggression to deal with a narcissist. For narcissists, every argument is a battle and they have to win it at any cost. So try to stay calm and try to control your anger in the face of confrontation. Say things sternly, avoid yelling. Stand upright, cross your arms and keep quiet till they are done. Use this time to calm down and think of an appropriate response. They will soon realize that you are not listening and will stop yelling. With narcissists, there is no point yelling or arguing, just stick to your point.
- Stop looking for logic. Nothing is logical in a narcissist’s world. They are always concerned about being right and perfect all the times. They can twist facts to suit their need and belief. So, instead of thinking how or why something happened, try to look for what might have prompted them to do it.
- Don’t let the narcissist bully you. Don’t let them bully you either verbally or physically. Document every incident of the abuse and report it to the proper channel. If there have been people who have witnessed the abuse, ask them to back you up.
- Don’t be afraid of them. Although they might portray themselves as the perfect things in this world, deep down they are insecure and suffer from inferiority complex. So, stop being afraid of them and stand up to them. The moment you do this, they will cower down and move away. If the person you are dealing with is physically abusive, make sure to be in a safe place or call for help to protect yourself from getting hurt.
- Stand up to them literally. One of the best ways to deal with a narcissist is to stand up to them. Look straight into their eyes, stand upright and show strength. Do not look down. Your confidence will make them back off.
- Enforce boundaries. Narcissists don’t respect other people’s boundaries. So, first, if you find someone is being aggressive or extremely selfish, make sure you are not being taken advantage of by enforcing boundaries. Decide your boundaries first – what you like, what you don’t like, what you will allow and what you will not tolerate etc. Once you are clear about your boundaries, it will be easier for you to put your foot down when things don’t suit you. When you say no, say it with conviction.
- Beware of their manipulations. Narcissists are big time manipulators. So, look out for their manipulations and don’t give them a chance to play games with you. They will try to make you feel guilty for their mistakes, make you feel wrong when you are right or belittle you. This is their tactic of guilt-tripping you to agree to things.
- Keep a track of their contribution. If the narcissist you are dealing with is your co-worker, keep a track of his/her contribution. Narcissists crave for recognition. When working in a group, the narcissist will not fall behind when it comes to taking the spotlight. But when it comes to doing work that has no audience like accounting, meeting deadlines, etc, the narcissist will slack off. Don’t let it happen. Make your group have a way of accounting each member’s contribution. Keep a track of how much a person is working, hours logged and tasks completed.
- Know what you want from them. While dealing with a narcissist, know what you want and get them to give it to you before they get what they want form you. Never expect any promises from a narcissist. Once they get what they want, they will probably forget about all the promises they made to you. Sometimes they make promises they don’t intend to keep. Always make sure to first get what you want from them.
- Keep your expectations lower. When you are dealing with a narcissist, keep your expectations of them as low as possible. Know that they will give you only until the time you are relevant in their life. When you no longer serve any purpose, they will weed you out of their life. Never expect anything from them.
- Know that they will never like you or care about you. When a narcissist is befriending you, know that he is trying to use you for his needs. Never make yourself believe that a narcissist enjoys your company or likes you. He is just being nice to you and making you feel good about yourself so that whenever he needs you, he knows you will rush to his side.
- Narcissists are always concerned about their appearance and reputation. If they think something will harm their reputation, they will be ready to think about it. Instead of showing anger, show disappointment to keep them in line. Ask them what people would think of their actions.
- Respond with empathy instead of anger. If your spouse is a narcissist and you feel he is not all ears when you talk, tell him, ‘I care about you and when you don’t listen to me I feel as if I am not important to you.’ Try this instead of saying, ‘Why don’t you bother to listen to me?’
- Give them constructive feedback in form of mild praise. Avoid criticizing a narcissist. Accusations make them feel shame and humiliation is something that’s hard for them to deal with. Instead, use measured words in a calm manner and tell him you need his help to understand things better.
- Be honest and sincere in your approach. Identify all of the narcissist’s traits and achievements that you genuinely admire. Use them to acknowledge them. Insincere flattery may be tolerated by them, but it would be better for you to be more credible as narcissists lack a well-grounded self-esteem.
- Avoid challenging their wishes or desires.
- Lay down the consequences of their action. If you are dating a narcissist, consider how much will it matter to him if you walked away from the relationship. Tell him that if he doesn’t mend his ways and becomes responsible for his behavior, he might lose you. Don’t threaten him or give an ultimatum, but instead express the stakes in a calm and rational manner. This might motivate him to change.
- Don’t go after every little thing. Narcissists like to throw tantrums; it’s their way of attracting attention and feeling important. They are probably trying to get on your nerves to evoke a reaction from you. Pick your battles with sanity. Don’t try to go after every little thing.
- Consider getting out of the relationship if nothing works. If you are married to a narcissist or are in a relationship with a narcissist and if the situation worsens, insist on marriage counseling or therapy. Your partner will resist as narcissists don’t find anything wrong with them, but make sure to stand your ground. If things don’t improve, consider walking out of the relationship.
- Don’t feel sorry for them. It is obvious to feel sorry for them, especially if the narcissist is someone you have been living with. But know that most narcissists can never change, and they would never accept that something is wrong with them. They are manipulative, and they know what they are doing.
- Learn not to take it personally. Whether it’s a family member, your boss or a person you have to deal with every day, don’t take a narcissist personally. They may belittle you, pass judgment or disregard your efforts or contributions, but don’t let them bring you down. Don’t believe their criticisms. They make you feel bad so they can feel superior. Find what you love about yourself and be self-assured and feel good about yourself. Don’t allow your mind to dwell on their criticisms. Avoid wasting time and energy on them.