Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) exhibit an inflated sense of self-importance and a lack of ability to empathize with others. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative and demanding. But at the same time, narcissists have a deep need for admiration and are extremely vulnerable to criticism.
If you’ve heard of narcissism before, you probably already know the first piece of advice: Get out. Cut ties, shut them down, and leave the narcissist for good.
Unfortunately, in certain situations, it’s not that simple. Maybe the narcissist in your life is a parent or a sibling. Or maybe he or she is your boss at your dream job or an ex-spouse with whom you share a child or an estate. Sometimes, you can’t just write the person off and walk away.
In these instances, it’s important to know what you can and cannot do when dealing with a narcissist. Look through the list below to learn how to effectively deal with the narcissist who’s not disappearing from your life any time soon.
Don’t expect them to care about your feelings
Because they are perpetually insecure about their status, the main goal of most people with a narcissistic personality disorder is to look out for themselves. This means that self-esteem enhancement is ultimately more important to them than you can ever be. Narcissists only care about themselves and therefore you need to keep in mind that they don’t have your best interests at heart.
Focus on the solutions, not the problem
Narcissists like to focus on the problem and defend themselves to the death. To prevent yourself from getting stuck in an unwanted debate, state the problem and quickly move towards the solution. When possible, it’s best to present several solutions. Giving the narcissist options will allow them to feel more in control of the situation and the outcome, and be less resistant to solving the problem.
Avoid playing the blame-game
Narcissists don’t do well with criticism. Never blame the narcissist directly, which will only infuriate them and not help the overarching situation. The best thing to do is to be indirect in your dealings with the person and talk around the issue. Rather than talk about how they are at fault, make the conversation more about how you feel and how you’re being impacted.
Pick your battles wisely
Be prepared to let minor, unintended insults go. It is best to carefully pick your battles. If you tell your narcissistic mate every single time he or she hurts your feelings, the relationship will sour, you will find yourself in a continuous state of war, and nothing will be gained. Save those fights for serious and intentional insults that cross certain boundaries that you are prepared to defend by leaving the relationship, no matter the cost.
Keep your expectations low and realistic
Don’t expect a relationship with a narcissistic person to be balanced. Narcissists are selfish and don’t see your needs as important as their own. So keep your hopes and desires in check: This individual is not going to wake up tomorrow a new person.
Never let a narcissist determine your self-worth
Don’t get caught in the trap of always trying to please a narcissist. Because they are so sensitive, the narcissist will consistently find things about you that are not to his or her liking—so basically, you are setting yourself up to fail. Know that it’s not you; it’s their own insecurities.
Show them how something will be to their benefit
To successfully communicate with narcissists, frame things so that they’re most appealing to them. Boosting their egos and presenting the situation as beneficial to them are more likely to make things go in your favor than if you ask for a favor.