19 Ways to Win an Argument with a Narcissist

Engaging in a productive argument with someone who insists on being right no matter what can be a tiring and fruitless enterprise. Their need for control, use of manipulation, and an elevated sense of self-importance can make them tricky to reason with. Do not fear! We’re here to help, with 19 tried and tested tips for bettering the odds when going head-to-head with a narcissist.

Pick Your Battles

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Not every disagreement with a narcissist requires a full-blown argument, no matter how hard they try to make it into one! Vice recommends letting the little things go to protect your emotional equilibrium. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the negativity and manipulation involved, so it’s better to simply let it go and walk away.

Focus on Facts

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Narcissists thrive on emotional responses and will often use all kinds of underhand tactics to ‘get a rise out of you’ and inhibit you from making arguments that are calm and rational. WikiHow recommends ignoring any inflammatory comments to avoid getting distracted or angry, especially when the narcissist senses they are losing the debate!

Hold On to Your Values

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While compromise is often healthy and necessary in a relationship, don’t sacrifice your core values or beliefs to appease a narcissist. They won’t respect you and will take it as a clear sign that they can easily ‘push’ your limits. Clearly communicate your moral boundaries, and walk away if they cannot be respected.

Avoid Personal Attacks

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Marriage.com states that narcissists are “wired to be abusive,” but that doesn’t mean you should be too. Never stoop to their level or ‘take the bait’ by responding with insults or name-calling—it will only make you angrier and less rational and increase overall negativity. Instead, focus entirely on the point of contention without attacking their character, no matter how tempting!

Don’t Doubt Yourself

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Narcissists are extremely skilled at twisting logic and using guilt to get their way, but this can often be dismantled by calm, logical thought. Once you’ve established your boundaries and communicated how you feel, don’t admit fault, no matter how much they try to manipulate you into changing your mind.


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You don’t need to agree with someone to validate their feelings or acknowledge their personal experiences. Business Insider says being understanding (without condoning their behavior) can help de-escalate an argument. Try using phrases like “I understand you feel frustrated” or “It seems like this is important to you” to show empathy without changing your stance.

Gray Rock

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Narcissists often use highly inflammatory statements to manipulate or hurt others, so responding neutrally to such attempts can be effective. Don’t ignore them, but become unresponsive unless directly asked a question, and try to appear uninterested. Offer short, neutral responses instead—this takes away their power to emotionally control you.

Set Clear Communication Boundaries

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Narcissists often thrive on confusion because it prevents the other person from staying focused and reduces their mental clarity. Try to stop them from ‘muddying the waters’ by setting clear communication rules (like not interrupting each other or shouting aggressively). If they won’t accept or follow these rules, disengage from the argument until they will.

Document Everything

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In situations where evidence is crucial (like in custody battles or divorce hearings), keep a record of important conversations, agreements, or incidents, no matter how innocuous they seem. Having concrete proof of a narcissist’s lies, controlling behavior, or manipulative tactics can help solidify your stance in court.

Don’t Confuse Empathy and Sympathy

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There’s a difference between acknowledging someone else’s emotions and feeling burdened or guilty because of them. While it’s important to acknowledge their perspective, avoid feeling sorry for a narcissist or taking responsibility for their bad choices or negative experiences. Empathy doesn’t condone their actions, whereas sympathy can lead to emotional manipulation.

Seek Support from Others

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Relationship coach Edwin Bii states that “isolation is one of those subtle techniques manipulative partners use to sever all emotional and physical ties you have with the outside world.” It denies you an outsider’s perspective on toxic behaviors, like gaslighting. Surround yourself with support, and don’t allow a narcissist to ‘poison’ your relationships with others.

Remember, You Can’t Control Them

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No matter how hard you try, you can only control your reactions and behavior, so try to focus on managing your own emotions and responses. Focus on the disagreement and how it affects you, and try to find a resolution without attempting to change a narcissist’s ingrained personality traits.

Don’t Expect Apologies

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Narcissists never think they are wrong and always play the victim, so they rarely offer genuine apologies or take responsibility for their actions. Accepting this reality can help you manage your expectations and avoid becoming disappointed or disheartened when they aren’t remorseful and you don’t receive the validation you deserve.

Limit Contact

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If the narcissist is someone you can’t completely avoid, such as a family member or co-worker, establish clear boundaries and limit contact as much as possible. It will be more difficult for them to negatively impact your emotional state and sense of inner peace if you aren’t exposed to them more than is absolutely necessary.

Prioritize Self-Care

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Engaging with a narcissist can be emotionally draining, even for those who’ve been doing it for years. Make sure you prioritize your well-being by engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation and spending time with loved ones who appreciate and respect you. Don’t neglect your hobbies, exercise plan, or healthy diet either.

Know When to Walk Away

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Sometimes, all the best tips for winning an argument just aren’t enough. If a narcissist becomes abusive or toxic or causes you to feel mentally unwell, find a way to remove yourself from the conversation (and preferably their lives) entirely. No matter how inconvenient (or how guilty you feel), remember that you’re important and deserve to be happy.

Educate Yourself

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Understanding narcissistic behavior equips you with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate arguments more skillfully and effectively. Reading books and articles or seeking professional guidance from a behavioral psychologist will provide useful insights and coping strategies.

Remember, You’re Not Alone

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Arguing with a narcissist can feel very alienating, but don’t forget that many, many people deal with such behavior daily. You are not alone, and resources are available to support you, so don’t neglect to share your experiences online with friends, support groups, or professionals.

Focus on Healing

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Some arguments cannot be won, no matter how expertly you state your case. In these cases, focus on repairing the emotional damage caused and recovering from the drain on your time and compassion. You may have learned a harsh (yet valuable) lesson, so move forward positively.

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