Narcissists are great communicators when it comes to defending themselves. But they are pants when it comes to interactive, respectful and positive communication because that requires empathy, consideration of other viewpoints and possibly compromises. None of which the narcissist is capable of. To understand narcissism, read this.
Their aims in a discussion are self-orientated and it’s all about winning.
And they will go into the discussion as if it is a battle, using a variety of weapons.
The communication skills (tricks) they are very good at are:
- Overshouting other parties. They would do that by speaking a lot, talking loudly, not allowing space for others to speak and interrupting.
- Not listening. Whatever has been said, they just ignore it.
- Dismissive body language. They will communicate their disinterest through clear looking away, fiddling fingers, fidgeting, clicking a pen and the like. All aimed to demonstrate that what is being said is of not interest whatsoever.
- Undermining others. Through negative comments and irrelevant arguments they will try to undermine confidence or reputation of others.
- Repeating their desired outcome. It is almost a way of brainwashing their audience.
Tips to prepare yourself for an encounter with a narcissist:
- Manage expectations. Keep in mind that you have a different agenda. Most people enter a discussion with the aim to come up with an outcome that suits all parties. A narcissist will enter a discussion with the aim to get their way and to show that they are the best.
- Do not engage your emotions. Narcissist lack total empathy. They have no idea what goes on in others and they don’t want to know. If you start to engage your emotions, such as frustration or anger (very easy to have those ignited in their company) your discussion will develop in favour of the narcissist. Your emotions will cloud your view and feed their power.
- Say what you want to say. If you are disrupted or interrupted, take a step back and start again. Eventually, they have to (pretend to) listen to you.
- Ignore their bad behaviour and in doing so you don’t give them the satisfaction of getting under your skin.
- Narcissists are twisting the truth according to their world and wishes. This can be infuriating and the best way to deal with that is to not deal with it. Stick to your story and your facts and simply ‘agree to disagree’.
It is a challenge to sit around the table with a narcissist, but if you are prepared, you will be ahead of the game and able to take control. If anything, in these situations, control is the name of the game.
If you lose it, you are not alone. It is quite common as narcissist are clever manipulators but keep in mind that it is not about you being incompetent or overly emotional, it is them evoking reactions to satisfy their need to feel superior.
I offer one-off coaching session to prepare for challenging situations. Interested? Just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org