How To Deal With A Conversational Narcissist
How To Deal With A Conversational Narcissist

Dealing with a conversational narcissist can be challenging and draining, but it’s a skill worth mastering for your own well-being and sanity. In this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into the world of conversational narcissism, explore common traits of individuals who exhibit this behavior, and most importantly, equip you with practical tips on how to deal with a conversational narcissist effectively.

At the heart of it all, learning how to deal with a conversational narcissist is not just about managing difficult conversations; it’s about safeguarding your own emotional and mental health. So, let’s dive in and empower you with the tools you need to navigate these challenging interactions with compassion and self-care.

Quick Overview of Conversational Narcissism

What is Conversational Narcissism?

Conversational narcissism is a term used to describe a communication style characterized by an excessive focus on oneself, often to the detriment of others in the conversation.

While all narcissists like to talk about themselves, it’s essential to understand that not all individuals who display these traits have narcissistic personality disorder, but their behavior can share similarities.

Common Traits of a Conversational Narcissist

To effectively deal with a conversational narcissist, it’s crucial to recognize the common traits and behaviors associated with them:

  • Egocentric: Conversational narcissists have excessively high self-esteem and tend to steer conversations toward themselves, their experiences, and their achievements.
  • Self-centered: Conversational narcissists are known for their grandiosity and prioritize their own needs, opinions, and interests above all else.
  • Self-absorbed: Conversational narcissists are known to be pompous and vain and so are often preoccupied with their own thoughts, feelings, and concerns, often disregarding those of others.
  • Arrogant: They may display a sense of superiority and entitlement, believing their viewpoints are the only valid ones.
  • Lacking in Empathy: Understanding and acknowledging the emotions of others can be challenging for them.
  • Manipulative: They may employ tactics such as gaslighting to control or manipulate the narrative of the conversation.

How Conversational Narcissism Looks Like in a Conversation

Before you can learn how to deal with a conversational narcissist you need to know what conversational narcissism feels like in a conversation. Spotting conversational narcissism in action can be eye-opening. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Constant Interruptions: They frequently interrupt others to bring the conversation back to themselves.
  • One-Upmanship: They often try to outdo others’ experiences or achievements, turning discussions into competitions.
  • Disregard for Others’ Feelings: Conversational narcissists can be demanding and may dismiss or downplay others’ emotions, even when they’re sharing something important.
  • Monologues: Conversational narcissists can be very controlling and tend to turn conversations into monologues about their lives, interests, or accomplishments.
  • Attention-Seeking Behavior: They may resort to attention-grabbing tactics, like exaggeration or dramatic storytelling.

Understanding these traits and behaviors is the first step in effectively dealing with a conversational narcissist.

Next, we’ll review practical strategies and tips to navigate conversations with conversational narcissists. Remember, it’s essential to approach this with empathy and a focus on self-care.

How to Deal with a Conversational Narcissist

In this section, we’ll explore practical strategies to help you learn how to deal with a conversational narcissist effectively. These tips are designed to not only manage difficult conversations but also protect your emotional well-being and maintain healthy relationships.

#1. Be Prepared for Monologues

Conversational narcissists have a tendency to dominate conversations with lengthy monologues about their own experiences, opinions, and achievements. It can be frustrating when you’re eager to share or engage in a balanced conversation. However, the key here is active listening. Let them express themselves fully. Consider this scenario:

Example: Imagine you’re discussing your recent vacation with a conversational narcissist. They might start talking about their own travels, sharing every detail. Instead of interjecting, let them finish their story, and then express your enthusiasm for their adventures.

#2. Wait for a Pause to Speak

Patience is a virtue when dealing with conversational narcissists. They tend to be enthusiastic about sharing their thoughts and may not readily yield the floor. To engage without causing defensiveness, wait for a natural pause in their monologue before interjecting. Here’s an illustration:

Example: During a conversation about a new project at work, the conversational narcissist is enthusiastically sharing their ideas. You patiently wait for them to take a breath, and then you contribute your insights.

#3. Use Questions Sparingly

Conversational narcissists often view questions as a challenge to their dominance in a conversation. To maintain a balanced exchange, use questions strategically. For instance, you can say something like, “I’m interested in your perspective, but may I share mine as well?” This approach acknowledges their viewpoint while opening the door for a more equitable discussion.

Example: You’re discussing a movie you enjoyed with a conversational narcissist who immediately starts dissecting the film. Instead of competing for attention, you gently say, “Your insights are valuable; may I offer my take on the movie too?”

#4. Avoid Competing for Attention

Attempting to compete for attention or one-up their stories can escalate tensions in conversations with conversational narcissists. Rather than vying for the spotlight, practice validation. Acknowledge their experiences and emotions before sharing your own. Here’s how it might look:

Example: Your friend is sharing their recent accomplishment, and you feel proud of them. Instead of sharing your own achievements immediately, you express genuine happiness for their success first.

#5. Redirect with Empathy

When the moment is right, gently redirect the conversation. Begin by acknowledging their point of view and then steer it toward a different topic or perspective. This approach, when handled delicately, can foster a more balanced dialogue:

Example: Your co-worker is passionately discussing their weekend plans. After empathetically listening, you say, “I’m excited for your weekend. Can we also discuss the team’s upcoming project?”

#6. Keep Your Statements Brief

Conversational narcissists may lose interest if the conversation veers away from them. To maintain their engagement while ensuring your voice is heard, keep your statements concise and focused.

Example: You’re in a group discussion, and the conversational narcissist has just finished sharing their thoughts on a current event. Instead of launching into a lengthy analysis, you provide a succinct and relevant comment.

#7. Use Humor Wisely

Humor can be a powerful tool for diffusing tension in conversations with conversational narcissists. Employ it tastefully to lighten the mood without belittling or demeaning them. Remember, the goal is not to mock but to create a more harmonious atmosphere:

Example: During a family gathering, the conversational narcissist starts discussing their latest achievement. You playfully interject with humor, “Wow, you’re on a roll today! I hope we can also chat about our day at some point!”

#8. Maintain Eye Contact and Body Language

Signal your engagement in the conversation by maintaining eye contact and open body language. These nonverbal cues convey your interest in what they’re saying, even when you’re seeking a more balanced exchange:

Example: As your friend shares a personal story, you maintain eye contact and nod in agreement to show you’re actively listening, even though you plan to share your thoughts later.

#9. Disengage When Necessary

Sometimes, the best course of action is to disengage from conversations that become too one-sided or emotionally taxing. Politely excuse yourself or express the need to attend to other matters if the interaction becomes overwhelming.

Example: In a group discussion, the conversational narcissist continually dominates the conversation. You gracefully excuse yourself, stating that you have an appointment to attend to.

#10. Reflect on Your Goals

Before engaging with a conversational narcissist, take a moment to clarify your goals. Are you looking to share your perspective, provide support, or simply listen? Setting clear intentions can help you navigate the interaction more effectively.

Example: You’re about to discuss a personal matter with a friend who tends to dominate conversations. Your goal is to share your feelings and seek their input, so you approach the conversation with this objective in mind.

#11. Practice Patience and Self-Care

Dealing with conversational narcissists can be emotionally draining. Practice patience not only with them but also with yourself. After such interactions, engage in self-care activities that help you recharge emotionally and mentally.

Example: After a particularly challenging conversation with a conversational narcissist, you spend some time meditating and doing activities that bring you joy to rejuvenate your emotional well-being.

#12. Seek Support and Advice

Discuss your experiences with trusted friends, family members, or a therapist. They can provide valuable insights, offer emotional support, and help you develop coping strategies tailored to your specific situations.

Example: You share your experiences with a close friend who provides guidance on how to navigate conversations with the conversational narcissist in your life. Their support and advice prove invaluable.

#13. Consider the Relationship

Lastly, it’s essential to evaluate the significance of the relationship with the conversational narcissist. If the behavior persists and negatively impacts your well-being, you may need to reassess the level of involvement you want with that individual.

Example: You’ve been dealing with a consistently difficult conversational narcissist in your professional network. After careful consideration, you decide to limit your interactions with them to protect your emotional health.

Remember, dealing with a conversational narcissist requires a combination of strategies and a compassionate approach. In the next section, we’ll conclude with some closing thoughts to wrap up our guide on handling conversational narcissism.

Note that these tips can work no matter the type of relationship you have with the conversational narcissist. But if you are in a romantic relationship, you may be interested in tips for dating a conversational narcissist.

Closing Thoughts

Dealing with a conversational narcissist can be a challenging yet necessary skill in today’s social landscape. By recognizing the signs, employing these strategies, and maintaining a compassionate outlook, you can navigate these interactions while safeguarding your emotional well-being. Remember that it’s not just about managing conversations; it’s about preserving your sense of self.

Ultimately, your journey in dealing with conversational narcissists may lead to healthier relationships, improved communication, and personal growth. Embrace these tools, prioritize self-care, and remember that you have the strength to thrive in conversations, no matter who you’re engaging with.

Take a deep breath, and go forward with confidence and empathy.