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How to Communicate With a Narcissist

by Kimberly Perez

Communicating with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) can be confusing. Facial expressions don’t always match the situation and even what is communicated through words can feel confusing, frustrating, and even irrelevant. Language is one of the key tools of manipulation for someone diagnosed with NPD and knowing how to communicate with a narcissist is vital to keeping your sanity.


DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL/KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK: Narcissistic behaviors can be hurtful and feel like extreme personal attacks but the reality is that narcissism does not discriminate—their arrogant behaviors and attitudes tend to show up in all of their interpersonal relationships. Being aware that their insecurities are what guide these negative tendencies can make it more manageable to not become reactive and escalate the conversation.

Taking time to respond is extremely important to lessen the chances of the conversation becoming more negative. Almost every conversation is a negotiation and, when bargaining with emotionally loaded issues, time is of the essence. To communicate effectively with a narcissist, try not to let your emotions take over—do not respond quickly or out of emotion. This can lead to both parties being frustrated and things might come out unintentionally.

DON'T ARGUE ABOUT 'RIGHT' AND 'WRONG': There's no point trying to figure out who is "to blame" for something, as narcissists will never admit fault. They want to blame you for any negative emotions they are feeling because they utterly rely on the image that portrays them as being faultless.

As a result, an argument about the smallest of issues can escalate quickly and fiercely. Something you may have thought of as unimportant, or even irrelevant, has been blown into a relationship-ending level row. They've spent your entire relationship working out how to push your buttons, and they will use everything in their power to make you feel insignificant and small.

Related articles: Ending Toxic Relationships


If you are with a narcissist, you probably already have a lot of empathy to start. But even the most caring people struggle to see the sense of having it for someone who is hurling insult after insult at them. If you find yourself backed into a corner, one way to soothe a narcissist's rage is to empathize with their feelings and say something like: "You must have felt very hurt by what I did, I can understand why you are feeling that way." A relationship built on empathy will allow one person to confide in another if at one point either person needs to be emotionally available. USE 'WE' LANGUAGE: By saying "we" rather than "I" or "you," you include yourself in the behavior. Defending yourself will most likely anger the narcissist, so try and stop the argument from escalating further by reminding them you're in this together. Things will soothe over once the argument subsides.

PARAPHRASING WHAT’S BEING EXPRESSED: At its core, NPD is a need for constant admiration. Due to the need for admiration, it is important to be attentive and visibly indicate that you’re listening and engaged. Paraphrasing techniques are a useful way to get this message across while also allowing the person to hear themselves. USE THE PCC METHOD: PRAISE, CONFRONT, AND COMPLIMENT: Narcissists get a very bad reputation and although it is understandable because of the negative interpersonal behaviors, shaming and ridiculing won’t solve or change the situation. Jerisel Jimenez, Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) Psychotherapist from Cobb Psychotherapy says, “…using what I like to call the PCC method can help attune to your needs and theirs. Express praises followed by the message you’d like to express and edit with a compliment. This method attunes to the narcissist's need to be admired while also allowing you to express yourself.”

KEEP CONVERSATIONS SHORT: “When communicating with someone narcissistic it is best to keep interactions short. Narcissists have an impairment in interpersonal functioning which means intimacy and empathy are almost impossible to reach,” says Jimenez. Elongating the communication tends to open the door for those impairments to come out.

Many may find the end of a conversation to be the most difficult, as sometimes simply saying, “It’s time for me to go,” will not be enough for a narcissist, pushing for a longer discussion despite boundaries. They may use guilt or even cause a scene. Before speaking with a narcissist, you may want to provide a clear excuse for when and why you have to leave. Let him or her know before you talk that you must go at a certain time. By giving a fair warning, you help the narcissist understand what is ahead as well as solidify your ability to feel “right” in leaving instead of being discourteous. KEEP A NEUTRAL STAND; DO NOT DISAGREE OR AGREE: It’s important to stay true to yourself, however, that can be extremely difficult when communicating with a narcissist. Narcissist tendencies bring many to doing things they normally wouldn’t do. It’s because of this that staying neutral when engaging in communication is so important. Examples of neutral stands include “Thank you for sharing that” “I’ll have to think about it and get back to you” “I hear what you’re saying” and “I can see that’s what you believe.”

Try not to agree or disagree with the person. If you disagree with them, they will become upset and make your life miserable. If you agree with them, you are fueling their behavior. Try to not have strong opinions on what they have to say and simply move the conversation along.


Most people who have some sort of relationship with a narcissist will inevitably find themselves apologizing (and agreeing) just to keep the relationship running smoothly. In reality, apologizing to a narcissist can lead to doing things you wouldn’t ordinarily do to accommodate their feelings. Never appease and do not apologize as this will further enable and feed a narcissist’s ego. Narcissists can be manipulative, so try to protect yourself when in conversation. You do not want to be constantly apologizing and you do not want them to undermine or gaslight you. DON'T EXPECT AN APOLOGY: There's no chance of the narcissist admitting to any wrongdoing or apologizing. This includes asking them to process what really happened. According to Jimenez, a narcissist will not be comfortable with the idea that they started an argument over something trivial, so it's best to just move on.

ASK ABOUT A TOPIC THAT INTERESTS THEM: Narcissists love talking about themselves or expressing just how much more they know about something than you do. You can dangle a new topic to veer the conversation away from conflict. This might not be that effective amid a fierce row, but if you do it after some time has passed, the narcissist will probably take the bait. Another similar solution is to ask for advice. This may look like a slightly less transparent way of changing the subject, because it'll make the narcissist feel like they are the only person you can go to, making them feel superior. DON'T TAKE THE BAIT: Narcissists tend to be revengeful regardless of whether you have blame or not. Expect to have your past flaws thrown at you, from that one time you slipped a year ago, to how you're acting selfishly right now. Essentially, they are trying to get the maximum response out of you they can. By ignoring the insult, you can often avoid the pointless fight.

If you rise to the bait, things are likely to escalate, and you're effectively giving the narcissist exactly what they want — your pain, says Jimenez. Always try to not ‘take the bait’ and let them underneath your skin. Do not feel like you constantly need to explain or defend yourself. A narcissist rarely listens, so you will be exhausted trying to get your point heard.

Related articles: Signs Siblings Are Too Close VIEW NARCISSISM IN A BIGGER PERSPECTIVE: The most important thing you can do to maintain communication with a narcissist is understand you cannot change or control them. This means you can only control how their behaviors affect you.

ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES: Narcissists often think they can freely access your property, reveal your feelings or make you discuss your private affairs in an open setting. This gives a narcissist a sense of individual space to cross your limits. For this reason, let the narcissist know the consequences of crossing your limits and stick to that for them to believe your words. “Boundaries can include Limiting communication, a physical, emotional boundary, or psychological boundary,” says Lauren Cook-Mckay, Marriage Therapist at Divorce Answers. Clear boundaries and preparation can help you avoid feeling guilty, rude, ridiculed or worse. REMEMBER TO PUT YOURSELF FIRST: Most experts believe being in a romantic relationship with a narcissist is an emotionally draining, damaging process. Ultimately, it's up to you if you think the tedious ego-stroking and hard work is worth it or not, suggests Cook-Mckay. “In all likelihood, you'll probably realize it isn't, and you'll one day be able to move on with your life without the narcissist holding you back. But in the meantime, using these methods to de-escalate a narcissist who is on a roll can help get you out of upsetting, and potentially dangerous, situations.”

It is important to always keep your own feelings in mind when you end up in an argument with a narcissist. You need to protect your own opinions and mental health, and oftentimes with a narcissist, they will not let up until you agree that they are right and you are wrong. This can lead to a never-ending argument which no one wants, says Alexander Burgemeester, Neuropsychologist and Owner of The Narcissistic Life.

Related articles: Shein: The Fast-Fashion Giant Eyes IPO THE GREY ROCK RULE: For most people, breaking things off with a narcissist and being free from them is the only option. They will never change, and your energy is better off being used elsewhere. But there may be some instances where narcissists are unavoidable, like if you have a toxic colleague or relative. When none of the above seem to be effective you may want to apply the Grey Rock Rule.

Simply put, you deal with the narcissist if you have to, but you only give boring, monotonous responses. This way, the narcissist can’t get the narcissistic supply they seek from you during gaslighting and manipulation – and they must seek it elsewhere. The tactic is not only highly effective for use in disarming the narcissist and shutting down their gaslighting, but it is also incredibly infuriating for narcissists to experience. HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY MAINTAIN A BOND WITH A NARCISSIST: “A common thread when dealing with a narcissist is to always protect yourself first and know when a relationship is not working for you,'' says Burgemeester. Narcissists rarely seek help for their behavior as they will maintain there is nothing wrong with them, so you will have to always be the bigger person.

When the narcissistic behavior is too much, allow yourself to take a step back and give yourself some space from them. Practicing mindfulness and keeping yourself grounded can help you to cope with a narcissist and make it more bearable. “Keeping a level head is key and always remember that you do not have to be with a narcissist if you do not have the strength to deal with them.”

Related articles: How To Build Wealth With Low Income THE BOTTOM LINE: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a disorder in which an individual considers themselves superior to others. People with a narcissistic approach have deep-seated insecurity inside them. They produce a distorted self-image, an oversized ego, and a presumption of superiority.

Communicating with a narcissist tends to be a one-sided communication that is dominated by them. It can feel impossible to get your thoughts, emotions, and logic across to someone narcissistic. Changing a narcissist is difficult, but you can control how their activities affect you. Recognize the traits of NPD before adapting to a communication style. TRAITS OF A NARCISSIST Shows arrogant behavior Takes advantage of others to achieve their goals Exaggerate their importance Selfishness in relationships Lacks empathy, disrespect the feelings of others Lack of responsibility Considers themselves important Suspicious of others Emotional reasoning Unable to communicate or work as a part of a team Envious of others or considers others are envious of them Needs admiration all the time


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