Following the post I published back in November, ‘Is Your Boss a Narcissist?‘ I had such a massive response that it was clear that it is a subject that touches many of us.
I received an incredible amount of messages from people asking me for advice on how to manage the Narc in their lives (whether that be a friend, family member, neighbour, boss or spouse), and I want to carry on that theme for a while to help where there is so obviously a need.
I have done an incredible amount of research into the Narcissist Personality Disorder over the last six months. I have read everything I can lay my hands on (books and articles, etc.) as well as watching hundreds of videos on the topic. Whilst I’m not a psychologist, I now have a pretty good understanding of how Narcs work, whom they are attracted to (their ‘targets’) and how to manage them.
Going strict ‘no contact’ with someone who has a narcissistic personality is THE best way to deal with them. Narcs crave attention, and they don’t care if it’s positive or negative. They thrive off your discomfort and any negative responses, feelings and emotions they can provoke in you.
Therefore, withdrawing from them completely, blocking their access to you through email, phone, and social media is absolutely crucial. If you leave any opening for them, no matter how small, they will seize it and use it against you.
However, ‘no contact’ is not always possible, especially if you live or work with the Narc or if you share custody of your children with them. I know that in such trying times as we’re currently facing with isolation and homeworking, it’s easy to become overwhelmed if you’re in close confines with your Narc, as feelings and emotions are heightened. In cases such as these, the second most effective tool is to use the ‘Grey Rock’ technique.
Think of the qualities of a grey rock that’s just there, on the ground. It is boring; it does nothing; it just sits there. It doesn’t say anything; it doesn’t answer back; it just ‘is’. That’s how you need to be toward your Narc; boring, inanimate, responding with the bare minimum.
Narcs thrive off the chaos they create – that is their fuel, it’s what makes them tick. Creating confusion and mayhem is like air to them; they need it to survive. I know this sounds quite unbelievable to the ‘normal’ person, but it is absolutely true. By going ‘grey rock,’ you are depriving them of the source of heightened emotions that feed their feelings of grandiosity and need for significance.
I realise it can be difficult; you will want to hit back. You will want to argue or put your point of view across; to make them see sense. However, due to their nature, you will never win; it’s not even worth trying. Save your breath and your sanity. They will always have a smart answer; they will gaslight you, they will twist your words (known as ‘word salad’), they will say and do anything possible to make you look stupid, out of control and crazy.
Be prepared though; they will try to make you suffer for a while as they try to provoke you. After all, Narcs are experts at it. They will have studied you for quite a while (during the ‘love bombing’ phase), and they know precisely what makes you tick, and how to push your buttons.
However, the key is to stay ‘grey rock’. Remain unmoved, dull, and inanimate. Reply wherever possible, in words of one syllable, in a flat, unemotional tone. I realise that it will be hard, but you will be surprised at the results if you stick to it.
If you’re struggling and need some support, especially during this challenging time, please do reach out, either to a friend, family member or health professional. I’m also here to help (in the strictest confidence). So please do reach out. There is more help out there than you realise. You are not in this alone.