Have you ever been in a situation where someone was so intent on dominating the conversation and turning every topic into something that makes them look better than everyone else?
You could be dealing with a narcissist.
Narcissists can be difficult to deal with, but don’t worry; if you’re in this type of relationship, there are ways to handle it without giving up your self-respect or sanity.
If you’re tired of navigating their terrible behavior and feeling shut down by their put-downs, read on to learn how to deal with a narcissist.
How To Deal With Narcissists: 10 Tips You Need To Know
Definition of Narcissism
Before we dive into dealing with narcissists, we must ensure you are dealing with a narcissist.
A narcissist is someone who has an inflated sense of their own self-importance and a deep need for admiration, also known as narcissistic personality disorder.
They tend to be manipulative, overly competitive, and controlling.
Narcissists often believe they are superior to others and view themselves as always correct or better.
Common narcissistic personality traits include a lack of empathy, entitlement, outbursts if criticized, and manipulating situations to their advantage.
Narcissists strive for power and attention from people around them, which causes suffering for those closest to them.
Causes of Narcissistic Behavior
Narcissistic behavior is relatively common and often goes hand-in-hand with other mental health issues, including low levels of empathy and self-esteem.
It may be as simple as an inflated ego or manifest more strongly in an individual’s behavior.
There are usually three major narcissistic traits that contribute to why people have this personality disorder:
- Lack of secure attachment in childhood
- Poor self-regulation of emotions
- Experiential avoidance, where one uses maladaptive coping strategies to deal with unpleasant emotions.
First, individuals who experienced neglect or abuse during the formative years of their life, mainly from a family member, tend to develop narcissistic patterns of behavior.
Next, those with difficulty regulating extreme emotions or uncomfortable sensations have found solace in focusing on their achievements and image rather than facing the underlying issue.
Finally, striving for gratification while disregarding interpersonal connections or deeper issues leads to a superficial type of living that amplifies narcissistic tendencies.
Understanding the Dynamics of Interacting with a Narcissist
Dealing with a narcissist can easily become a delicate and challenging situation, as they often refuse to see reason or care about what is acceptable to others.
Understanding the dynamics of interacting with a narcissist is essential to diffuse the situation and keep one’s emotional health in check.
The potential power struggles are important to be aware of, especially how your attention continually reinforces their points of view.
Also, be aware that any negotiation or compromise may seem like an attempt at domination which they will reject outright.
If you’re trying to get out of a relationship with a narcissist, remember to take it slow and stand your ground when push comes to shove.
Sometimes it may feel like you’re dealing with an immovable boulder, but doing your best could help you find your way out safely and protect yourself from further harm.
Here are some strategies to help you deal with a narcissistic person.
#1. Establish Boundaries and Set Limits
Setting boundaries and limits when dealing with a person with narcissistic personality disorder can be a challenging task.
Your first instinct might be to try accommodating their needs, but that often leads to further manipulation.
It’s important to stand up for yourself and not be afraid to set healthy boundaries for what is acceptable in your relationship with the narcissist.
Not only will it protect you from being taken advantage of, but it will also help the narcissist understand that their behavior has consequences.
By standing firm and refusing to accept any mistreatment or manipulation from them, you’ll be proving that they can’t always have their way while preserving your dignity at the same time.
#2. Use Constructive Criticism
Working with a person showing narcissistic behavior can be a difficult and trying task, but it is not impossible.
The key to success lies in giving and receiving constructive criticism.
When you are offering criticism to the narcissist, avoid direct criticism.
Instead, make sure your message comes across as an attempt to collaborate on projects and get better results rather than coming from a place of blame or judgment.
This is because even the slightest criticism will make them defensive and shut down due to low self-esteem, making communication nearly impossible.
It could even lead to abusive behavior.
Likewise, when receiving criticism from a narcissist, focus on the content of their message versus taking the delivery personally.
This can be challenging at times, but by leaning into positive dialogue and looping in objective evidence when possible, both parties can take away effective feedback for future collaborations.
#3. Avoid Direct Confrontation
Dealing with a narcissistic family member or friend can be trying, to say the least.
Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you need to interact with a narcissist, it’s important to remember that the conversation won’t end well if an argument or confrontation presents itself.
Instead, focus on techniques such as active listening, offering solutions rather than criticism, and rephrasing statements instead of directly disagreeing.
Keeping your cool and exercising patience will take a massive weight off your shoulders in the long run and give you more control over volatile interactions with them.
Empathy will go a long way too.
Try to understand where they are coming from and empathize with their viewpoint; this may help diffuse tension between you both.
Remember, getting your message across is always better without resorting to an argument or direct confrontation.
#4. Refrain from Participating in Arguments or Debates
Dealing with narcissists can be difficult as they often take things personally and get easily angered.
Instead of entering into an argument, focus on keeping conversations objective and factual.
Narcissists are sensitive to criticism, so keep your tone as neutral and non-judgmental as possible.
If you feel frustrated or upset during a discussion, it’s best to take a break before re-engaging; having a clear head will make it easier to maintain an even dialogue.
Acknowledging the other person’s point of view helps move the conversation along without becoming too heated.
It’s important to remember that communication is critical in any relationship, especially with a narcissist.
So stay calm, remain rational, and be open-minded when addressing issues with them.
#5. Focus on Self-Care and Protecting Your Own Mental Health
When dealing with a narcissist, taking care of your mental health is essential.
The extreme control, rage, and manipulation you may face can negatively impact your mental well-being.
One way to ensure you manage your mental health is by giving yourself time to practice self-care.
Go for a walk, read a book, meditate, or listen to music.
You can do so many things for yourself to recharge and reset.
It’s also important to set up a support system.
Connecting with family, friends, or a therapist is an effective way to help process emotions and build resilience.
While narcissistic relationships may be challenging, taking the best care of yourself can make all the difference.
#6. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally
Dealing with people who show narcissistic characteristics can often be an incredibly draining and frustrating experience.
But it is essential to remember that sometimes, they are not directing their hurtful words and actions at you personally.
Narcissists are often highly insecure people trying to protect themselves by masking their feelings of vulnerability and inadequacy behind a facade of superiority and grandiosity.
It is helpful to try as hard as possible to take a step back and analyze the behavior objectively instead of internalizing it and letting their words get the better of you.
Keeping this in mind makes dealing with a narcissist less emotionally taxing and helps us maintain our composure while they are having a bout of selfishness or vanity.
When dealing with a narcissist, it can be challenging not to take things personally.
They often have a way of making those around them feel insignificant and like their opinion doesn’t matter.
But when faced with this type of situation, the best thing to do is to distance yourself from the narcissist and not let their words get under your skin.
Remind yourself that it’s not about you, and don’t allow the narcissist’s barbs to shape your self-image or identity.
Taking a step back and recognizing that this behavior says more about them than it does about you can help provide perspective and peace of mind.
#7. Expect To Be Gaslighted
Dealing with a narcissist can be complicated, and one thing to expect is gaslighting.
This usually takes the form of subtle manipulation and questioning of your memory or experiences to make you doubt yourself.
Narcissists are notoriously manipulative and often use this tactic to make you feel insecure and powerless to gain the upper hand.
It’s important to remember that it isn’t fair for someone else to actively try to make you question your experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
If you find that you’re being gaslighted by someone else, it’s important that you stand up for yourself and remind them that your opinions matter, no matter what they may try to tell you otherwise.
#8. Surround Yourself With Positive People
We all know someone with narcissistic tendencies, and they can be tough to deal with.
When living or working alongside a narcissist, it’s essential to surround yourself with positive people, as they can bring you down emotionally if you let them.
They may even impact your self-esteem if you aren’t careful.
The right emotional support system is like an anchor: it will keep you grounded when the daily waves of negativity become overwhelming.
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A strong support system reminds us that there are better ways to deal with difficult situations, leaving room for growth instead of stagnation and frustration.
Don’t underestimate how negative energy can corrode the soul.
Ensure your relationships aren’t weighed down by an overabundance of egotism disguised as “confidence.”
A good support network can provide a sense of peace and lightness even in seemingly hopeless moments.
#9. Limit Contact and Exposure
One of the most important tactics you can use is to limit your contact and exposure to the person.
This is because narcissists tend to drain the energy and resources of those around them, leaving their victims feeling depleted and exhausted.
By limiting your interactions with someone with a narcissistic personality disorder, you can preserve your well-being and avoid becoming embroiled in their drama and manipulation.
This isn’t to suggest you ignore them or remove them from your life without talking to them, but rather try not to be available for them all the time.
#10. Encourage Them to Seek Professional Health
It is important to encourage anyone dealing with the toxic behavior of a narcissist to seek out a mental health professional.
Professional healthcare providers have the training and expertise to help individuals see their own behaviors, develop strategies to cope with their narcissistic traits and provide them with the support they need.
Seeking help from professionals can help individuals rebuild their low self-esteem, reduce their anxiety, and improve their overall mental health.
Plus, it will help them to be able to establish healthy relationships moving forward.
Encouraging someone to seek professional help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and willingness to take charge of their own well-being.
Everyone deserves to live a life filled with happiness and peace of mind.
Seeking professional help can be the first step towards achieving that for anyone dealing with a narcissist.
Here is a great search option to find a therapist near you.
Dealing with a narcissistic family member, romantic partner, or friend can be incredibly difficult and complicated.
However, armed with these few steps, you have the opportunity to gain mastery over these kinds of encounters.
Taking proactive action, crafting compassionate yet firm responses, maintaining perspective, and focusing on personal growth will help you steer in the right direction.
While navigating these interactions won’t ever be simple, approaching them with confidence can go far in helping you get through it.
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Jon Dulin is the passionate leader of Unfinished Success, a personal development website that inspires people to take control of their own lives and reach their full potential. His commitment to helping others achieve greatness shines through in everything he does. He’s an unstoppable force with lots of wisdom, creativity, and enthusiasm – all focused on helping others build a better future. Jon enjoys writing articles about productivity, goal setting, self-development, and mindset. He also uses quotes and affirmations to help motivate and inspire himself. You can learn more about him on his About page.