You have to apply different rules when dealing with people who have toxic and damaging narcissism. Here are 7 things you should never do when dealing with narcissists:
1- Don’t take them at face value. Image is everything to narcissists. They work hard to present a facade of superiority and certainty. They like to keep others guessing and operate less than transparently. But it is important to remember that people with narcissism are deeply insecure. Their flashy facade is designed to hide an emptiness within. We can have compassion for narcissists’ pain yet not be taken in by their pretenses. All that glitters is not gold.
2- Don’t feel a need to justify your thoughts, feelings or actions. Many narcissists try to make others second-guess themselves. They may do this by asking pointed or leading questions, acting as though you need to explain yourself to them. Recognize this for what it is: an attempt to undermine you. One helpful self-help mantra is “No JADE,” which stands for Justifying, Arguing, Defending, or Explaining. You do not need to explain or justify your feelings or thoughts. Furthermore, arguing with or defending yourself to a narcissist is generally counterproductive. Narcissists tend to be interested in winning, not listening; competing, not communicating.
3- Don’t minimize their dysfunctional behavior. Narcissists’ self-serving behavior and hunger for attention can suck energy from those around them. Over time people around narcissists may get fatigued or numb and fail to register how unhealthy narcissistic behavior can be. Make no mistake: deceiving, manipulating and humiliating others is unhealthy and wrong. Sometimes it may be best to let a narcissist’s childish or provocative behavior pass without comment but that doesn’t mean you should fail to make a mental note of how unhealthy it is.
4- Don’t expect them to take responsibility. Narcissists take credit and give blame, rarely apologizing or admitting fault. Narcissists think they have special status, greater stature, and more rights than others. They have no interest in equality or in owning up to what they do – other than taking credit. Seeking to get narcissists to take responsibility for negative actions can be a waste of time. If you want to point out their role in a problem, fine – but do so because you need to say it, not because you expect them to hear or validate your concerns.
5- Don’t assume they share your values and worldview. If you expect narcissists to have compassion, tell the truth, or share the spotlight, you may be repeatedly disappointed. People with narcissism view others as sources of gratification, not as equals. They use words as tools or weapons more than as truth. They have a bottomless hunger for attention. All these come from a shaky sense of self. Knowing this can free you from false expectations and allow you to set boundaries accordingly.
6- Don’t try to beat them at their own game. It may be tempting, but remember: most narcissists have spent their lives perfecting their campaign of self-aggrandizement. Many narcissists do more manipulative actions in a week than most people do all year. Narcissists have a mortal fear of losing, feeling inferior, and being exposed or humiliated. As a result, they devote massive energy to maintaining their image and cultivating sources of ego-boosting, generally at others’ expense. Trying to best them in a war of words, get even, or otherwise adopt their techniques is like an amateur going up against a seasoned pro. It won’t feel good and it rarely works. Instead, play your game and be true to your values.
7- Don’t take their actions personally. Narcissists take advantage of anybody they can. They may treat those closest to them especially negatively, but few are immune from a narcissist’s put-downs and manipulations. If you take what they do personally, you grant them extra real estate in your mind and psyche – which is exactly what narcissists want. Mistreatment by narcissists is painful and wrong, but narcissists target anyone who happens across their path. It’s not personal. It is just what they do.
There are plenty more things you shouldn’t do when dealing with a narcissist. For a full list from Dr. Dan Newharth, please read the full article here.