How to Talk to a Narcissist

By Sam Lynn

Est. Reading Time: 22 Mins

How to Talk to a Narcissist Image

Do you know anyone who posts far too many selfies and loves to flaunt their physical assets online or on their dating profiles? Perhaps you’ve met someone who loves to talk about themselves all the time. It’s as if everything revolves around them that their mere existence is a treasure to mankind.

A person who never misses a beat when it comes to flexing their physical traits, possessions, intellect, and other strengths is commonly referred to as a narcissist.

Apparently, establishing a connection and relationship with a narcissist can be challenging. It may seem easy and manageable at first, especially if you’re totally blinded by this person’s charm. However, as time passes by, you’ll realize just how emotionally and mentally draining it is. At some point, it can also be irritating and sickening beyond your control.

So how are you going to communicate with someone who is a narcissist? How are you going to handle a one-way conversation that focuses entirely on the other person’s interest? 

To find an effective means to communicate with someone you perceive as a narcissist, it is important to fully understand what this term implies. Educating yourself properly and establishing a sense of awareness about this type of personality can prevent you from making drastic moves. In effect, you’ll be able to handle the situation in the smartest way you can and in a less damaging manner.

Narcissistic Behavior Versus Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Behavior vs Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Behavior vs Personality Disorder

The term “narcissist” is often used nowadays to describe individuals who think highly of themselves. These people are the ones who often feel that they are entitled and that they deserve a whole lot of attention from others. They like to talk about their achievements, wealth, physical attributes, and charm all the time because they have a heightened sense of self-importance.

However, it is worth noting that a person who demonstrates “narcissistic behavior” is different from a “true narcissist”, which is essentially a person suffering from a personality disorder and psychiatric illness.

Based on clinical psychology, a true narcissist is a person who has a mental health condition medically known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

It is characterized by a strong sense of entitlement, excessive need for attention, and lack of affinity towards other people. Due to their lack of empathy and constant need for admiration, those who have this disorder have trouble maintaining relationships. It is also very difficult to communicate with them since they have a strong tendency to put the spotlight only upon themselves.

To create a distinction between narcissistic behavior and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, psychiatrists utilize various tests and evaluation procedures to develop a medical diagnosis. Therefore, it takes a thorough psychiatric assessment to confirm that a person has NPD.

In that sense, a person who demonstrates a narcissistic behavior may or may not have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Although their presentation is somewhat similar, narcissistic behaviors are significantly more subtle, less alarming, and don’t severely impair a person’s overall perception and understanding of others.

Signs That You’re Talking to a Narcissist

Signs that you're talking to a narcissist.
Signs that you’re talking to a narcissist

It is important to understand that people have different personalities. Some are egotistical, while others are modest; some have strong self-esteem, while others are humble and unassuming. However, a narcissist can easily stand out from the others because they always expect to be regarded as superior even if they have nothing to show for it.

So what are the clearest indicators that you’re talking to a selfish person? How would you know if the person you are talking to has narcissistic traits or behavior? 

The following are the strongest signs that you are talking to a narcissist;

1. The person has an exaggerated sense of importance

An exaggerated sense of importance is the most prominent characteristic of a narcissist. This person always feels that he/she needs to be on top of everything and deserve the most attention. They will most likely cut in line, refuse to wait, demand for faster service, and steal people’s attention. Furthermore, they tend to introduce themselves as someone who deserves high recognition to get ahead of others.

2. Constantly praises himself/herself in front of others

If you’re talking to someone who constantly praises himself/herself in an attempt to feel superior, consider this as a sign of narcissistic behavior. These individuals tend to become overly vocal about their qualities and physical attributes for the purpose of praising themselves while talking to others.

They are oftentimes preoccupied with their own fantasies that they end up commending themselves to inform people just how “special” and grandiose they are. This, in effect, gives them a sense of satisfaction, thinking that they can convince others as well.

3. Always asks for complements

A person who’s constantly fishing for compliments is demonstrating narcissistic behavior. This is their way of manipulating the conversation to make sure that the spotlight is always on them. Sometimes, they do this in the most indirect manner, such as showing off, talking about themselves, and asking questions that directly lead to what they want to hear. Oftentimes, you won’t have any other choice but to agree with them and respond in their favor.

4. They are not interested in what you are saying

People with narcissistic behavior are not interested in what others are saying during a conversation. They simply don’t care. Their opinion is everything that matters to them because they are poor listeners. They can make you feel that what you are saying is irrelevant. More importantly, you can easily sense their disregard and lack of interest.

5. Strong tendency to intimidate and belittle others

The most disturbing trait of narcissists is their strong tendency to intimidate others. They tend to belittle other people believing that they are better and more deserving. So if you feel that the person you are talking to is implying that you are inferior and is trying to intimidate you, it makes sense to assume that he/she has a narcissistic behavior.

6. Lack of empathy towards other people

Narcissists demonstrate arrogance in such a way that they don’t care about others. They have this “I don’t care” and “it’s their problem, not mine” attitude. Such haughty behavior makes it difficult for them to establish a relationship with other people since they lack concern and compassion.

If you feel that you’re talking to someone who lacks empathy and has no regard to other people other than himself/herself, it’s a sign that this person is a narcissist.

7. Has a strong belief that a lot of people envy them

Narcissists have very high regard for themselves. They have this illusion that a lot of people envy them. Since they believe that everybody has deep admiration for them, and that they sit highly than others, they perceive people that don’t give them attention as envious of their status.

How to Have a Conversation With a Narcissistic Person

How to have a conversation with a narcissistic person
How to have a conversation with a narcissistic person

How does it feel to talk to a narcissist? How do you think the conversation would turn out? Obviously, it’s not easy to communicate with a person who has a narcissistic behavior or is essentially a true narcissist. To begin with, they are extremely poor listeners who only care about themselves.

They are also very manipulative, and we can all agree that it’s impossible to have a healthy conversation with someone who lacks empathy.

If you happen to know someone who has an exaggerated sense of importance, you have to learn how to handle the situation with grace and decency. Here are some tips on how to talk to a narcissist;

1. Ask questions to clarify their behavior

Clarifying questions like “does that make you happy?” or “do you think that what you’re doing is right?” can make a narcissist reflect on their actions. However, as much as you’re expecting an honest response, you also have to prepare for the worse answers, which may sound unreasonable and insensitive.

Remember that a narcissist has their own way of spinning the truth. It is their manner of distorting reality. Still, asking questions to clarify their behavior might enable them to arrive at certain realizations.

2. Excuse yourself if you’re not comfortable

If you’re at a social gathering and you find yourself stuck in a conversation with a narcissist, feel free to excuse yourself. It’s perfectly acceptable to make up an excuse to break free from the conversation.

Remember that you don’t have to endure it if it’s making you feel uncomfortable. You can politely say that you have to go; and then just walk away without looking back. Remember, you don’t have to apologize for it.

3. Listen to them, but don’t fall into their trap

It makes sense to listen when somebody is talking. However, if you notice clear signs of narcissistic behavior in a person, don’t fall into their trap. Even if you’ll find yourself smitten by their charm and good looks, it doesn’t help to patronize them.

Expressing your admiration is just a means of encouraging their behavior and fostering their delusions. Apparently, this is not a smart way to communicate with a narcissist.

4. Don’t absorb the details

Narcissists live under the impression that they are perfect and exceptional, and no one can come up to their level. This is perhaps the hallmark of a true narcissist. In fact, this delusion reflects in their words and actions.

So whatever a narcissist tells you, do not absorb the details and don’t allow the words to affect you. How a narcissist perceives himself/herself is just a product of his/her imagination. This doesn’t make him/her far more superior than you are.

5. Stay calm

Talking to a narcissist can be stressful and sickening, especially if things start to get out of hand. Remember that narcissists have a strong tendency to become very manipulative. They can easily come up with blatant lies to bend the situation and turn things in their favor.

In this case, it doesn’t help to break down and lose your temper. The best thing to do is to stay calm and tone down your voice as much as you can. It is completely understandable that maintaining your composure is not easy, but arguing with a narcissist can only cause you a great deal of stress and frustration.

6. Accept that you will not win an argument

It’s pointless to argue with a narcissist because you will not win against them. They will most likely criticize, insult, and abuse you. Narcissists know how to blame anyone because they feel mighty and think highly of themselves.

In the end, you’ll only find yourself in a huge mess and with a long trail of humiliation to go with it. Thus, it’s best to accept that you will not win an argument with a narcissist.

7. Never expect an apology

No matter where the conversation leads you, don’t expect a narcissist to apologize for his/her behavior. Narcissistic individuals have no regard for others and think only about what’s good for them. Their sense of entitlement makes them feel that they deserve the best treatment and the highest form of praise from the people around them.

Their own illusions blind them, that they become totally insensitive to others’ feelings. So, in any case, that you feel offended by a narcissist’s words and actions, accept the fact that you won’t get an apology from them.

8. Don’t tolerate the behavior

Have you ever heard of the saying, “what you allow is what will continue”? This applies to you if you’re dealing with a narcissist. If you allow a narcissist to abuse and manipulate you during your conversation, this cycle could go on. So don’t tolerate this kind of treatment. Do something about it by seeking the advice of a professional.

If you’re finding it hard to deal with a person’s narcissism, talk about it calmly and ask for a way out. Even if you’ll witness the worse reaction, breaking free from a narcissistic person is the best thing you can do to preserve your self-worth. Remember that it makes more sense to admit that you cannot take it any longer than to endure something that you cannot accept.

9. Do not attempt to control or change a narcissist

When interacting with a narcissist, keep in mind that your own perspectives are far more important than what they are saying. You don’t have the power to change a narcissist, but you can have complete control of yourself.

Therefore, do not attempt to restrain or alter a narcissist’s behavior. There’s nothing that you can gain from it because this person can skillfully manipulate the situation to their advantage. Convincing a narcissist to change can only lead to a disastrous and emotionally draining “blame game”.

10. Be patient and understanding

Your patience and understanding are both important if you’re talking to someone who has a narcissistic behavior or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Often, these people who think highly of themselves and lack compassion towards others are in dire need of professional help and counseling. Proper treatment might help put their minds in the right perspective.

Instead of resenting them, it might help give them as much patience and understanding as you can. Talking to them may give you a lot of bad impressions. However, if you’ll look at the bigger picture, such behavior could be a sign of a mental disorder that requires medical attention.

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