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Stock phrases for dealing with narcissists

(63 Posts)
Helpmybrainsmelting Tue 28-Feb-17 16:00:00

Is there a place where there is a library of phrases for dealing with narcissists? I just thought it could be useful to have all the "armour" in one easy to find place without other talk?

I find that I pick up on good phrases in the stately homes thread but then when I need to revise them I can't find anything (probably because I'm stressing!).

665TheNeighbourOfTheBeast Tue 28-Feb-17 20:04:36

"Goodbye" ...and I'm not even being flippant

If you engage, you lose.

Helpmybrainsmelting Tue 28-Feb-17 20:51:23

Unfortunately I have younger siblings that I wouldn't be able to see if I went completely NC. I try to keep low contact. I get completely flustered when they start getting at me or throwing the whole "you don't support me" guilt trips my way. I need to be better at responding sensibly without having a meltdown and engaging in the crap!

Hoppinggreen Tue 28-Feb-17 22:18:42

There are none, if you engage you lose.
If you can't go nc then just smile and nod at everything.
Don't try to manage a narc it's pointless - just switch off

jeaux90 Wed 01-Mar-17 07:35:29

Yep no contact is the best way. If you have to stay in contact then factual responses only on text never engage in emotional topics. Never respond to the guilt trip messages.

I have an ex narc who I am no contact with apart from once a year or so when I need a legal issue resolved and I am always really factual. He tries to goad but I have some stock responses.

mickyblueyes Wed 01-Mar-17 11:50:04

Theres a technique called "Grey Rock" Read about this and you may find your answers. It's really hard sometimes but it works, the best way to argue with a Narc is to dis-engage and don't react.

A narc's primary objective is to secure "Narcissistic supply" If you think of it as a hypothetical pill that provides them with attention, adoration, and makes them feel great and powerful, in control etc..

They get that supply from other people = you. When you walk away from a narcissist that supply dries up for them...but they still need that "Hit" of narcissistic supply. Like a drug addict if they can't get the grade A stuff, they'll go for the alternative because they are desperate.

So if you think of like you were the grade A heroine whilst you were in their life/presence = Positive attention for them, now that you are out of their life/walk away they'll make do with the methadone = Negative attention.

They just want to be in control of you and when they don't get that control they will goad, criticise do what they can to get a reaction from you and provide them with a hit of their "Narcissistic supply".

Is this person a family member?

MsGameandWatch Wed 01-Mar-17 11:55:17

I wish I had seen this thread last week when I broke all my rules and engaged with my horrendous ex husband, he's now been baiting, insulting and bullying me via text for five days. I can't nc as we have children. He's currently withholding child support because I hung up on him and he "can't organise paying it if you won't communicate". I had been Grey rock for a long time and it's so effective but you have to keep it up. The longer you do it the more effective it is. If they do much as detect a chip in your armour they're in and it takes a LONG time to get them back out.

HakeLively Wed 01-Mar-17 12:00:20

Watching with interest as am due to start some counselling soon to try and unpick the damage done by my narc mother. I honestly don't k ow if I can go NC because of other family members. At the moment I am LC and she doesn't know why. I'm trying to keep things bright and breezy- I am not giving her anything more of myself. No news, no feelings, no emotion.

Sooner or later though it's going to blow up as I can tell she's getting very very angry at my new approach. When that happens I'm going to try and be measured and hopefully have some responses I can give her without engaging emotionally. I might be doing it all wrong but this is very new territory for me.

RockyBird Wed 01-Mar-17 12:00:54

Fuck off worked a treat for me.

donners312 Wed 01-Mar-17 12:44:30

you don't need to have contact with father of your children - can a family member or friend act as a go between.

My Ex has done everything to try to get me to re engage (reported me to social services, police, pays no maintenance etc) but they can't force you and neither would any judge.

OhBlissOhJoy Wed 01-Mar-17 13:00:35

I second grey rock - make yourself as uninteresting as possible. It is hard when your buttons are being pushed but worth reading up on.
Good luck, having a narc in your life is horrendous.

CheersMedea Wed 01-Mar-17 13:10:08

Depends on your relationship, your objectives and what you want to achieve.

For harmony
You are so [smart/handsome/right/ any egoboosting word]
If it weren't for you, I'd never [manage/cope/be able to]
You are right.
I was wrong
I must have been mistaken.
Thank you for pointing out why [ I was wrong/you are right]
I forgot
I'm so stupid.

For your own sanity
Grey rock technique. Don't engage emotionally so:
Unrelated boring comments "I need to check the weather forecast tomorrow. I wonder if it's going to rain."
Removing yourself from the situation comments: "Great to chat to you but I have to go to my appointment"

For survival
Goodbye. I can't see you ever again because [external uncontroversial reason - I am moving to Australia/your wife has found out/I think I am coming down with avian flu/ebola.]

Hoppinggreen Wed 01-Mar-17 13:10:21

I found that only responding to actual questions was effective.
So if they said I was XYZ i just didn't respond at all and a rant would involve me just saying " oh dear" very calmly and nothing else.
It was hard because I'm pretty feisty and it's nit natural for me but to fight my corner but by focussing on the fact that I refused to give them what they wanted ( an argument) I was actually "winning"
I did eventually go NC though, mostly due to the fact that even if I could deal with it I didn't want my dc to have to.

ThisIsTheRightTime Wed 01-Mar-17 13:22:32

The most frequently used phrase in my case is "it's/that's your opinion" which in narcissist survivor language means "you're an absolute joke and an arsehole for believing your opinion has any relation whatsoever to the truth but I'm just giving you the impression that your words are like water off a duck's back whilst politely validating your right to expression".

It works a treat every time with my STBX. I appear polite and respectful, he feels validated and I have no need to engage in the potential minefield of communication with him.

WorshipTheGourd Wed 01-Mar-17 13:23:12


Your list of 'for harmony' is interesting.
Those are the phrases ex-H likes to hear most in the world.
Does that make him a narcissist?
Is that what we all like to hear, or is it to the degree that is the factor?
(sorry OP, slight diversion)

CheersMedea Wed 01-Mar-17 13:35:45

Those are the phrases ex-H likes to hear most in the world.
Does that make him a narcissist?
Is that what we all like to hear, or is it to the degree that is the factor?

Most people like to be flattered but it's more that with a person with NPD, they perceive any contradiction or the slightest challenge to them as a gross personal attack on the core of their being.

The easiest way to avoid conflict is to strain to avoid that. It's not so much the flattery as (1) operating on the basis that they are always right (2) you are always wrong and (3) making sure they know that you know that and accept their wonderment.

For example, if two non-disordered people have a conversation about where to eat it goes like this:

A: I fancy Italian. Let's go to La Pizza.
B: I'm not in the mood for Italian. How about Chinese?
A: No don't fancy that. What about Sushi?
B: Great.

With a pw NPD its like this

A. I fancy Italian. Let's go to La Pizza
B: I'm not in the mood for Italian. How about Chinese?
A actually hears (1) you think you are more important than me (2) you are dissing my choice of restaurant and (3) you know I hate Chinese you are deliberately insulting me. Queue row about where to eat and who is in control.

Easier to go "Yes. Italian is a great idea."

WorshipTheGourd Wed 01-Mar-17 14:23:37

thanks, that is really helpful.
certainly many minor things (like where to eat) would be seen as a 'challenge' to them, yes.
Also, they can NEVER be wrong and would, eg, forcibly hold you in the middle of traffic on A1 whilst they explained why it WASNT THEIR FAULT! Is that a trait too (ie it being a matter of life and death that nothing can ever be their fault)? (sorry, right off OP's topic)

CheersMedea Wed 01-Mar-17 15:07:43

I don't think it is right of OP's topic because the question was about what to say to people with NPD.

Anything along the lines of you are right and avoiding conflict is usually a good tack

(it's this irrational reaction to anything seen as a challenge or criticism that leads to the feeling of walking on egg shells around a narcissistic person. Nothing you do is the right thing and this causes the rage)

ThisIsTheRightTime Wed 01-Mar-17 16:30:43

Good point CheersMedea! In some cases, however, positive affirmation of the person with NPD does not work either. My husband would complain when I agreed with him that I showed no initiative and lacked backbone.

Helpmybrainsmelting Wed 01-Mar-17 19:08:58

Thanks, I'll definitely look at Grey Rock!

I don't want resort to the 'for harmony' list as I find this only makes them think that they can ring/unexpectedly call on me all the time. I need a non-confrontational way of still being around them without them thinking they can do what they want.

Contact is to just keep the peace for my siblings. I know I'm being bad mouthed to others about how I don't care, I'm a bad daughter, not doing my duty etc but I, erm, well don't care! I have a family of my own to care for!

notgettingyounger Wed 01-Mar-17 19:19:43

BIFF is a good motto:

Keep communication "Brief, informative, fair and firm."

If you need to communicate about something practical (like co-parenting) then stick to the matter in hand, don't pass judgments, don't chat about anything else and keep contact minimal and to the point. Whilst being polite. Then ignore responses that are irrelevant to the matter in hand, repeating your first email if necessary.

In person, if you want to keep the peace, try not to criticise the narcissist. Just talk about neutral topics like the weather. If they say something ridiculous then how about "Oh, do you think so?" as a neutral response. Then leave ASAP!

If they call and you don't want to talk just say "Thank you for calling but I'm afraid I'm busy right now, I'll call you back when I have more time". And then leave it a few days until you feel ready for the conversation which you can begin by saying you only have 5 minutes as you need to do X soon.

Pollyputhekettleon Wed 01-Mar-17 19:19:51


What age were your dc when you went no contact and how did they feel about it? I'm considering going low contact or NC with DM but not sure how DD will react. She's 4.

Roomba Wed 01-Mar-17 20:52:45

God, yes, Grey Rock can work wonders if you can keep it up (it's not easy if your natural inclination is to disagree with bullshit, lies or abuse!).

I read about it here on MN, decided to try it on my abusive narc partner of 17 years. I kid you not, within 3 months he'd decided that I was so boring he wanted to move out (result!). No arguing or blaming me, he just sat me down and said he thought it was best if he left. 'Okay' I said calmly and carried on with my day. I kept it up whilst he was looking for somewhere else to live, we decided what to do re the kids, what stuff he was taking from the house... and despite him ranting raving and screaming for most of the previous ten years at me, we had barely a cross word in that time as he didn't see me as someone even worth taking time to argue with I think.

Even now, if he starts being an arse when I have to speak to him, I just slide back into Grey Rock mode and switch off. It works very well with my ex, you do have to keep it up even when you're dying to show emotion though.

Hermonie2016 Wed 01-Mar-17 21:35:35

Cheersmdea, that restaurant exchange is a typical conversation that would inflame my stbxh.We had to agree with his suggestion or else we were disregarding him, trying to control him and he would get angry.

I have only recently recognised the pattern.

Hoppinggreen Thu 02-Mar-17 08:06:59

polly I was pg with my first child when I went nc with my father.
I went nc with my brother when my DD was 8 and DS 4, they rarely saw him but did think he was " fun" ( like a lot of narcs he can turn on the charm).
Luckily I still see my Sil sometimes so the dc do have contact with their cousins, which would have been a shame if they hadnt

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