You’re about to discover my expert tips for how to talk to a narcissist.
In my role as a life coach, I am often helping clients improve their communication skills in various scenarios.
Indeed, if there’s a narcissistic person in your life that you want (or have) to talk with, it’s important to understand the most effective ways to speak to them.
So, let’s dive in.
1. What Is A Narcissist?
A narcissist is someone with an inflated sense of self-importance.
This is often characterised by superficial behavior, an unwillingness to take criticism, as well as an excessive need to be heard and admired.
Narcissistic personality disorder has been classed a mental illness, although there are lesser extremes of narcissism that may not require professional treatment.
2. What Are The Problems Of Dealing With A Narcissist?
On the surface, dealing with a narcissistic personality may not seem like such a big deal.
It may appear to some as less troublesome than dealing with the effects of another person’s low self-esteem. After all, it could be argued that most of the world’s problems are caused by those who don’t love themselves enough.
There probably is a healthy level of narcissism we can experience that doesn’t cause trouble to the world.
However, those at the extreme end of the narcissistic spectrum do tend to cause a lot of problems for others.
For starters, they’re extremely selfish to the point where they have no empathy for other people. Their entitlement often knows no bounds. Pathological narcissists often have no emotional integrity and no sense of accountability for their mistakes. They could lash out if they don’t receive the attention they feel they deserve.
Also, it should also be pointed out that MOST NARCISSISTS DO NOT LOVE THEMSELVES. This is why they devote so much time to convincing others of their importance.
As such, narcissists deserve our empathy and support, rather than our disgust.
Their narcissistic behavior is a well-disguised cry for help. This guide offers advice on how to help them.
3. What Are The Different Types Of Narcissism?
It is estimated that 1% of the population are pathological narcissists. These are the individuals who would be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
They display sociopathic levels of insecurity – and are best to be referred to a therapist or another type of mental health expert.
There are lesser extremes that you may be able to control yourself, once you know how. It is estimated that between 6-10% of the population can be defined as extreme narcissists.
These individuals, although not pathological, can create a lot of disruption to the lives of those who choose to deal with them.
Then, there are those with mild traces of a narcissistic personality. Thankfully, these individuals can also understand empathy and are far more manageable.
A recent study of college students in the 2010s found that 70% had narcissistic traits, compared to just 30% in the 1980s. This supports the theory that millennials have been raised to be more narcissistic than previous generations.
There are other ‘types’ of narcissists that you can find in various articles on this topic, although these articles tend to invent labels to explain the different behaviors that narcissists show, rather than describe a different breed of narcissist entirely.
4. What Phrases Do Narcissists Use?
You can find plenty of articles online that make assumptions about the phrases that narcissists use.
However, these tend to be far too stereotypical and mostly feature sentences that outline the behaviors of a narcissistic person.
- Over-estimating themselves
- Arrogant levels of self-belief
- Blaming others for their mistakes
- Superficial criticism
- Denial of any accusations made at them
To spot a narcissist, it’s more effective to look for signs of this behavior, rather than listening out for certain phrases that imply it.
Related: Things Narcissistic Mothers Say
5. How To Talk To A Narcissist Without Going Insane
The easiest way would be to limit your communications to essential conversations only, or to walk away from them completely.
However, there are plenty of you out there in relationships with narcissistic people – either romantic, hereditary or professional – that you don’t want to give up on.
To these people, it’s recommended to try and separate the mental health problem from the person. Often, it’s not their fault they ended up this way. Most likely, their narcissistic personality arrived as a result of being emotionally damaged in their childhood.
It’s possible to help people break free from the armor of their narcissism and show you their true selves – and there is advice on how to do that below.
But first, YOU need enough self-belief to know that you are in the right. Because, you better believe a narcissist will try to convince you otherwise. As mentioned above, those with NPD often become masters at gaslighting and blaming others.
You’ll need a lot of self-confidence to take on a narcissist and win without going insane – and arguably even more to help them see the error of their ways. That’s why it’s often best left to a psychologist or therapist.
Still, read on for some basic advice on getting through to a narcissistic partner, employee or parent.
6. How To Talk To A Narcissist Boyfriend
An equal amount of give and take is essential for a healthy romantic relationship. But, if you’re dating a narcissist, you’re probably not going to get that by default.
What’s more, in the ensuing arguments, this person is rarely going to admit their fault.
Disagreements are always going to occur in a romantic relationship. You need to focus on how to address them to reach a happy compromise.
The best thing you can do is stick to the point. What do you want to change? Focus on the subject at hand, not his weaknesses as a person.
If the conversation is directed at him – and not the actions you need – he’s going to become defensive and conflict will usually ensue.
Here’s an example:
“You are a great boyfriend and I really love you, but I need you to do this, this and this.”
It’s the best way to get what you want. If he strays from the subject of the argument, calmly lead him back on point.
On top of this, praise good loving behavior when he shows it. This backs up his sense of self-importance and he’ll feel incentivised to keep treating you so well.
Note: Narcissists are prone to gaslighting, poison-dripping, and other abusive actions in romantic relationships. Whatever it takes to protect their self-image. If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, call a friend or contact a therapist to speak about it. A conversation with a third party can often be the only way to realize you’re being subjected to emotional abuse.
7. How To Talk To A Narcissistic Employee
A narcissist can ruin your business from the inside if they believe they are the only ones that matter. Without the right feedback, they won’t subscribe to the belief that treatment of customers, delivery of services and the team spirit of your employees are the most important things.
The best way to handle a narcissistic employee is to give constant feedback. It needs to be drilled into them that their personal success will be measured based on the team’s success.
When they act as a helpful member of the team, shower them with praise and incentives to keep going. When they don’t, clamp down on their behavior quickly.
It takes a strong leader who sets and enforces firm boundaries to manage a narcissist worker. If you don’t lead, the narcissists in your team will do so instead.
It may sound like you should avoid hiring a narcissist at all costs, but they can be a useful asset to many businesses.
Narcissists can be very persuasive, engaging and function well as islands. What’s more, they can be very dedicated to success when managed and incentivised properly.
8. How To Talk To A Narcissistic Parent
When we’re a child, it’s our parents job to tell us what to do and to always be right. However, if you were raised by narcissistic parents, they may well be making efforts to continue doing that well into your adulthood.
When talking with narcissistic family members, the important thing is to realize you can make your own decisions about what’s best for you.
They might do all they can to convince you that’s not true. You can use the communication strategies already outlined to reason with them, or you may have to cut them off altogether. The most important thing is that you’re aware of your independence.
Note: It’s common for children of narcissistic parents to grow up with low self-esteem because they were emotionally neglected. Remember, narcissists always put their own feelings first. If you think that happened to you, consider speaking about it with a therapist.
9. How To Talk To A Narcissist Ex
Don’t do it! It’s tough to reconcile or maintain a friendship with an ex at the best of times. It’ll be even tougher with a narcissistic ex, because they’ll usually be completely resistant to any ideas about them being in the wrong.
Most conversations with a narcissist ex will be about how you were to blame for the failed relationship, how they’re better than you, how you were wrong to leave them etc.
It’s not worth engaging with them at all unless you have children together. If this is the case, keep the communication solely on what the children need. Don’t engage in conversations about the two of you as a couple. Nothing positive will come from it.
10. What You Should Not Say To A Narcissist?
It’s often going to be counter-productive to take any of the following actions when talking to a narcissist.
- Blame them;
- Direct abuse at them;
- Question their sense of superiority;
- Point out their flaws;
- Make out you’re better at them;
- Call out their narcissism;
- Make an example of them in front others;
- Question their mental health;
If you do any of these things, you can expect them to feel deeply hurt and take it as a direct personal attack. Rather than discussing the problem through calm and honest communication, they’ll usually engage in conflict, resort to personal abuse and do anything they can to deflect from the topic of them being in the wrong.
To get things done and make progress in your relationships with a narcissist, it’s better to support the idea that they’re a fantastic person, and direct any constructive feedback you have at the action that needs to be taken, rather than them as a person.
11. What Drives A Narcissist Insane?
Occasionally, you’ll come across an abusive narcissistic bully, who you have no interest in helping or creating a lasting relationship with.
In most cases, you’re best off ignoring their behavior and completely removing these people from your life.
If you’re in a situation where you have no choice but to listen to them, show them their words have no power over you.
If they criticize you, you say: “so what?”
If they explain to you why their opinion matters, you ask: “why do you care so much?”.
Show zero interest in their opinions. Then, watch their world melt down because their sense of self-importance has no impact on you.
This is better than engaging in conflict with them, because:
- conflict reinforces their opinion that they matter, so you’re indirectly encouraging this narcisstic behavior;
- conflict is nearly always awful for your mental health;
- narcissists never consider the other side of the argument, so your words will always be in vain.
12. How To Help A Narcissist Heal
The best way to heal a narcissist is to help build their self-esteem. Remember, a narcissistic personality tends to emerge as a result of poor self-esteem, usually caused by weak relationships with their parents. Narcissists are aggressively defending what they don’t believe to be true deep down.
Meanwhile, a truly self-confident person has no need to aggressively convince others of their greatness. Their cup is full, so they direct their energy towards building up other people instead.
Can you show the admiration they most likely didn’t receive from friends and family when growing up?
If so, they may eventually sense there is no need to wear their narcissistic mask around you. The battle is won with love, not war.
13. What Is The Best Way To Respond To A Narcissist?
It’s not easy dealing with a narcissist. If they’re not an important person in your life, you may feel it’s better to remove them from it.
If you want to help them, it’s best to do so from a place of love and empathy, even if they appear to be showing none in return.
Yes, you should stand up to narcissists if they overstep your personal boundaries, but the most effective way to do that is to direct your criticism at the action and not who they are as a person.
Therapy or other mental health services may also prove very useful to anyone with narcissistic traits.
Any More Questions About How To Speak To A Narcissist?
Thanks for reading my article. I hope you find these ideas to be useful and that you feel better equipped for your next conversation with a narcissistic person.
If you have a question related to your relationship with a narcissist, feel free to ask it in the comments section below.
I would be happy to offer my support, no matter how deep or personal your query is.