Need to know how to shut down a narcissist?
Everyone has a tendency to show some narcissistic traits at times.
This tendency comes in varying degrees with different people, and sometimes you can't tell if someone has a heaping serving of this personality trait until you’ve spent a significant amount of time with them.
What's more, the qualities that initially attracted you to this person may be the very qualities that end up annoying you.
You may meet someone confident and proud of their accomplishments and who seems exciting and well-versed in life.
But after getting to know them, you realize that all they talk about is themselves, and they are starting to drain your energy with all of the self-absorption.
This is when you may realize you're dealing with a narcissist.
- What are the weaknesses of a narcissist?
- Phrases to Disarm a Narcissist
- What Hurts Narcissists the Most
- How to Talk to a Narcissist
- How to Shut Down a Narcissist: 15 of the Best Ways
- 1. Disengage from Them
- 2. Don't Sink to Their Level
- 3. Don't Feed Their Ego
- 4. Don't Accept Responsibility
- 5. Say “I'm Sorry You Feel that way.”
- 6. Cut Their Psychic Cords
- 7. Rise Above It
- 8. Offer Compassion
- 9. Be Vague
- 10. Walk Away
- 11. Remember, You Cannot Control Their Reality
- 12. Avoid Giving Negative Attention
- 13. Put Your Needs First
- 14. Keep Your Cool
- 15. Force Them to Move On
- Narcissists and Boundaries
What are the weaknesses of a narcissist?
Narcissists can be:
- Needy of admiration
Phrases to Disarm a Narcissist
Narcissists also have a delusional sense of self-worth and an inability to feel empathy for other people.
They are not able to regulate their emotions or consider the impact that their actions may have on other people. As a result, disarming them is not a simple undertaking because they don't react the way most of us do.
Wondering what to say to disarm a narcissist? If you want to neutralize a narcissist, you might try saying things like:
- I don't like how you are speaking to me, and I want it to stop right now.
- Please stop criticizing me in front of others. It's hurtful and unkind.
- I don't like being told what to do or how to behave. I'm an adult.
- Flattery and praise go both ways. It would help if you gave more if you want to receive more.
- I'm going to leave if you keep speaking to me that way.
- I see you and what you are up to. You can't fool me.
- I'm not going to engage with you.
- It's not my job to boost your ego.
- The way you are speaking is unprofessional. Please call back when you calm down.
- I choose not to be manipulated today.
- No. I'm not doing that.
These statements might get their attention, but it's not likely to change their behaviors permanently. You should probably focus less on disarming them and more on learning how to implement your boundaries and manage their behaviors.
This person may be a friend with whom you choose to limit your time, but it could also be a boss, co-worker, or family member who you must see on a regular basis.
The question is, can you have a workable relationship with someone who is narcissistic?
Yes, you can, but you have to know how to deal with them.
Let's talk about the most effective ways to talk to and shut down a narcissist so you can tolerate their irritating and often hurtful behaviors.
What Hurts Narcissists the Most
Self-absorbed people are in constant need of validation that they are fabulous people.
If they don't receive this validation, or someone questions their greatness, they often lash out.
What hurts narcissists most is when they are not acknowledged as exceptional, or they are viewed as an ordinary person like everyone else.
This response causes them to elicit the engagement of those around them. When this attempt fails, they can feel hurt and angry.
Insincere flattery is also something that hurts a narcissist. Deep down, narcissists lack well-grounded self-esteem.
Because of this, they need to know the compliments they receive are credible. Anything that comes across as fake can be very hurtful.
When their flaws and weaknesses are exposed, and there's no way to make believable excuses or cover them up, narcissists can lash out because they feel so vulnerable and weak. Lashing out is the narcissist's equivalent of feeling shame or embarrassment.
How to Talk to a Narcissist
Talking to a narcissist requires patience, tolerance, and focus if you want to maintain a semblance of a positive relationship with him or her.
Having patience will let you remain in the conversation when others may drop out. Being able to tolerate the conversation will help you overlook the narcissist's selfishness and arrogance.
If you stay focused, you will be able to remember what the narcissist wants and what your objectives are in the conversation.
Talking to a narcissist may not be comfortable, but you can still carry on a decent conversation and even form a friendship — although it won't be a deep friendship.
- The first thing to remember is to limit your expectations and realize your role in the conversation is to be supportive and recognize what you are dealing with.
- You also have to be willing to listen carefully and offer signals of positive recognition. If possible, be genuine and sincere in your acknowledgment of this person.
- Make a verbal note of any of the narcissist's achievements that you truly admire.
Don't worry about causing the narcissist to become more self-centered. He or she has behaved this way since an early age and is unable to stop without professional help. Yes, you may feed this person's ego, but don't worry that you are the cause of their inflated sense of self.
Avoid challenging a narcissist's opinion or point of view. Narcissists have a very low tolerance for anyone questioning or debating them.
Doing so leads them to become frustrated or angry. Refusing to challenge a narcissist's opinion helps you avoid the risk of being attacked.
To shut down a narcissist, you have to be more prepared than they are. Let's go over fifteen effective strategies you can use to shut down a narcissist and help reduce the harm they inflict on you.
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How to Shut Down a Narcissist: 15 of the Best Ways
1. Disengage from Them
Don't be surprised when you are with a narcissist, and they become unreasonably angry over a seemingly minor annoyance.
Don't try to reason with them and don't involve yourself in the situation. Remember to think about the things that are in your control — and that's how you respond.
The only way a narcissist will realize that they might be in the wrong (or simply let something go) is if you refuse to engage and push back.
This can be difficult, but if you know that they are wrong about something, don't fall for their charming attempts to get you to agree with them or to bait you into an argument.
Think before you speak and do not take the bait.
2. Don't Sink to Their Level
Narcissists thrive off of a good fight because they know how to push your buttons.
When your buttons are pushed, you are probably tempted to fight back and defend yourself.
However, once you fight back, you have lost control. If you want to get around a jab from a narcissist, stay cool and don't have a reaction to the emotions around you.
It is important to stay in control of your actions and words because the narcissist will not be able to do this.
3. Don't Feed Their Ego
Narcissists have a pretty impressive sense of self. It is clearly inflated, but it is also unstable.
If you give them too much undeserved verbal praise, you're reinforcing their belief that they are better than you and everyone else. Only give praise when you feel it is deserved and honest.
If you don't give a narcissist any of this fuel to work with, they won't use it against you or others when defending themselves.
When a narcissist's self-image is reflected back in ways that amplify their endless need for admiration, their narcissistic needs are gratified and reinforced as acceptable.
4. Don't Accept Responsibility
If a narcissist is angry, let them be angry. They may try to make you feel the same anger and pain that they are feeling, but you can refuse to comply.
It might seem easier to accept the blame to stop their rampage, but doing so can break your spirit after a while.
If you accept the responsibility for their anger or emotions, you may end up doing whatever they want just to appease them.
Let the narcissist handle their own emotions and come to terms with them. They will eventually get over it or move on to another effort to satisfy their needs.
Accepting this responsibility is painful and gives permission to the narcissist to continue to blame you for how they treat you or try to make you believe that their behavior is a result of their actions, which is not true.
5. Say “I'm Sorry You Feel that way.”
Narcissists think they know everything. When they are insulting you, they think they are completely right in their accusations.
However, if you say, “I'm sorry you feel that way,” as they are trying to engage you, it will throw them off balance and give them nothing to push back against.
Their attempt at getting you to defend yourself has failed. Saying this will show them that the conversation is over, and you don't have a response.
6. Cut Their Psychic Cords
Narcissists think that they can engage you in their reality. They expect a reaction out of you when they push your buttons.
However, if you acknowledge their reality and tell them that you accept it, even though it is faulty, you are sending a strong message that you are not going to be manipulated. Nor are you going to offer the reaction that they expect.
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7. Rise Above It
Always be the best, most authentic version of yourself. If someone tries to convince you that you've done something wrong or that you are a horrible person, don't try to retaliate or defend yourself.
Doing so only causes you to validate their accusations. If you don’t act in a way that the narcissist expects, they’re likely to give up and leave you alone.
8. Offer Compassion
Having compassion for someone who is narcissistic helps you remember that they are dealing with a mental issue that has nothing to do with you.
You are dealing with a difficult or toxic person in what might be an abusive relationship. Try to recognize the humanity of the narcissist because, despite their unpleasantness, they are in pain.
You have to keep in mind that narcissists have a deep sense of insecurity and self-doubt.
You don't have to be sympathetic about this, but you can be compassionate by not adding to their distress.
This reaction can shut down a narcissist because you're refusing to add fuel to their fire. The narcissist’s grandiose sense of self is simply their defense against profound psychological pain.
9. Be Vague
The attention you give to a narcissist is addictive for them. They will continue to look for that fix to help satisfy their ego.
If you keep giving them what they want, they will continue to try to control you so you will meet their needs and wishes.
Keep all dialogue to a minimum. Don't talk to a narcissist unless you have to.
Avoid interaction as much as possible, but don’t make a big deal out of it because it will give them ammunition against you.
When you do have to talk to them, talk about boring things, like the weather. If they ask questions, give vague, uninspiring answers that don't invite more questions.
You can quickly bore a narcissist to shut them down.
10. Walk Away
The best way to shut down a narcissist is to walk away from them. If all else fails, you can physically remove yourself from the conversation.
Even if they keep talking, simply turn around and walk away. If they follow you, close the door. Put headphones on. Pick up your phone and call someone. These actions will force them to stop eventually.
11. Remember, You Cannot Control Their Reality
If you recognize that you can only control yourself and your perception of things, you will be less likely to fight back against a narcissist.
You can't challenge someone else's perception of you. They will think whatever they choose to think about you no matter how much you fight against it.
You will be able to shut down a narcissist easier if you can accept their faulty perceptions of you.
12. Avoid Giving Negative Attention
Narcissists love attention — either positive or negative. Receiving negative attention is a critical part of their ability to hold you accountable for their behavior.
Once you give them this kind of attention, they can hold it over your head. They need this kind of negative feedback from you to provide them with a reason to lash out and target you in return.
If you are the closest person to the narcissist, you will automatically become the most reliable target.
13. Put Your Needs First
Narcissists make others feel guilty about being happy because they expect everyone to put the narcissist's happiness first.
If you’re not constantly praising them or accepting their criticisms that make them feel superior, they won't be satisfied.
Keep your needs in the front of your mind to reduce the chance of a narcissist taking advantage of you.
Set healthy boundaries that you are comfortable with to keep the distance that you need from the narcissist. Keep your eye on what you need and continue to fulfill it.
14. Keep Your Cool
Showing a narcissist that you’re upset reinforces their behavior.
They see that they have power over you. They are encouraged by your strong reaction and look for other ways to elicit the same response from you.
Always try to keep a level head and keep your emotions to yourself.
15. Force Them to Move On
If you want a narcissist's behavior to stop, you have to figure out what you are willing to deal with and what you aren't.
Then you have to respond in the exact same way every time until the narcissist gets so bored with you that they drop it.
If you are facing behavior that you are not willing to deal with, it probably makes it hard for you to be objective during these tense interactions.
To shut down a narcissist, you have to know your “hot buttons” so you can diminish the power a narcissist may have had in the past and gain control over your emotional responses.
Narcissists and Boundaries
You can see from these strategies that most of the work in shutting down a narcissist requires managing yourself. You must decide what you will and won't put up with.
Create a boundary statement around whatever you won't tolerate. For example, a boundary might be, “I will not accept unkind and critical comments about me from the narcissist.”
Now, what does it mean to “not accept” these comments? That's where consequences come in. You may not be able to change the narcissist or stop him or her from saying unkind things, but you can implement repercussions to their behavior.
When the narcissist crosses your boundaries, you can . . .
- Leave the room.
- Refuse to go to a planned event with him or her.
- Refuse a request or favor demanded of you.
- Go stay with a friend for a few days.
- Report the behavior to a supervisor (if it's at work).
- Drastically minimize the time you spend with him or her.
None of these consequences are likely to bother the narcissist for long, but they will empower you and make you feel more in control.
Taking Power Away from a Narcissist
You have to understand that you can't change a narcissist. You can only manage yourself and how you respond.
If you want to know how to shut down a narcissist, the most important thing is to understand the disorder so you can protect yourself from the havoc they can wreak on your life.
Try using these steps to create boundaries and manage the narcissist in your life before their behavior has a long-term impact on you.