18 Phrases to Use to Disarm a Narcissist

Dealing with a narcissist can be challenging due to their need for admiration, lack of empathy, and manipulative behaviors. These phrases can help you navigate conversations with a narcissist by setting boundaries, maintaining your dignity, and protecting your emotional well-being. Remember, it’s crucial to prioritize your mental health and seek support when needed.

“I need you to listen to me.”

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This asserts your need to be heard and creates a clear boundary. Since narcissists don’t have sympathy for other human beings, they need to be reminded to listen when other people are speaking.

“Could you kindly refrain from interrupting me?”

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You can expect a lot of interruptions from a narcissist because they feel what they need to say is more important than hearing what you have to say. Interrupting can also be used as a manipulation tactic, trying to confuse you. When you ask them to stop, it will give them a pause long enough to think of their next tactic or disarm them completely.

“I’m not comfortable with the way you’re speaking to me.”

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Expressing discomfort with their tone will force them to rethink their communication style. It will set them off from their cadence, which takes power out of their hands.

“Let’s find a solution that works for both of us.”

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Narcissists prefer to say “my way or the highway,” and expect those they’re in conflict with to bend to their needs. When the person fights for just their way in response, it fuels the narcissist; however, looking to meet both people’s needs will throw them off their plan.

“I value diverse viewpoints, including yours.”

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“Sometimes, the best way to handle a narcissist is to use sweet language to find a compromise,” says Tackling Religious Narcissism. Acknowledge their perspective to take them off the defense. However, be sure not to acknowledge their point of view at the expense of your own.

“I trust my feelings.”

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Narcissists often try to make their victims question their own feelings and perspectives on a situation. They’ll tell you how you feel or even say they’re the victim because of how you feel. Affirm your emotions in the face of gaslighting to let them know this tactic will not work on you.

“I have stated my boundaries; it is your responsibility to honor them.”

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Remind them of your boundaries as many times as necessary. Be sure to also stand your ground and say that it is their responsibility to learn your boundaries and accept them; it is your responsibility to create consequences for when those boundaries are pushed or broken.

“I’m at peace with being misunderstood.”

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They say the opposite of love is hate, but the truth is that the opposite of love is indifference. Show indifference to their provocations; this shows that they cannot hurt you with their manipulation. If it does hurt, which is perfectly normal, wait until you’re away from them to let that emotion show.

“I stand firm in my truth about this situation.”

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Grampian Women’s Aid says, “A gaslighter instills constant and consistent confusion, leading the victim to become desperate for clarity.” They will tell a different version of events than what actually happened. They will also try to nullify your emotions surrounding the situation. Reaffirm your position on the facts of what happened and how you feel about it.

“Let’s lower our voices and maintain a calm conversation.”

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High emotions give a narcissist a feeling of power. Bringing down the pace or heat of a conversation is a great way to take back control. Encourage a constructive dialogue with a calm tone that is based on facts.

“I genuinely want the best for you.”

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“Kill them with kindness,” or at least disarm them with kindness. Somewhere in the back of a narcissist’s head, they feel people don’t actually care about them. Steve Rose, Ph.D., defines it as “fragile high self-esteem,” a form of high self-esteem dependent on external validation and self-deception.” Making them feel cared about amid their bad behavior can help them take a step back.

“If you continue this disrespectful behavior, I will disengage from the conversation.”

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Set clear consequences for their actions. Be concise on what behavior is unacceptable to you and how you will respond if it continues. The very next time they are disrespectful, leave the conversation; no further words or explanation are necessary.

“No, that doesn’t work for me.”

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Use simple, firm responses to reinforce boundaries. Don’t complicate things or create a grey area. Make sure what you say you want or don’t want is black and white, so that you aren’t giving them a way to do what they want while not specifically breaking what you said.

“Could you clarify what you want me to understand?”

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Narcissists love leaving people confused; it leaves them room to deny or change the story. Prompt clear communication. Just like you should not leave room for interpretation, don’t leave yourself open to having to guess what they meant.

“Your achievements are commendable, but let’s focus on the issue at hand.”

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The Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance.” Redirect focus while acknowledging their need for admiration. This will bring them down to a level where you may be able to speak logically with them.

“I believe in treating others with kindness and respect, regardless of their opinions.”

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Express your values while also telling them how to speak to you. This is a way of setting a boundary while sounding like you’re just talking about how you feel and how you choose to interact with people. This could unlock a competitive side to the narcissist, who will then want to show they are kinder.

“I’m capable of making decisions for myself and trusting my instincts.”

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“The narcissistic personality and its obsessive desire for control is not about control just for control’s sake, but an essential defense against the risk of receiving a narcissistic injury—a blow to the ego or self-esteem,” says Winning Teams. Being able to maintain your autonomy may bruise their ego, but it’s something you can’t give up.

“I choose to surround myself with people who uplift and empower me.”

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State your preference for positive relationships, and do not falter from that. If the narcissist continues to belittle you, you have to disengage not only from the conversation but step away from the relationship entirely. This could be for a short amount of time or permanently.

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