7 Keys to Neutralize a Narcissist
Dealing with a person who has a narcissistic personality disorder is not easy. If you want to neutralize a narcissist, it requires a lot of courage, intelligence, and – to some extent – a sense of otherness.
It’s estimated that between 1% and 15% of the population suffers from this disorder.
However, contrary to popular belief, narcissism isn’t just a mask. It’s a mental disorder in which the person has a disproportionately high opinion of themselves, lacks empathy, and demands constant attention. It’s not an invented construct, but those affected truly believe they are superior.
Let’s take a look at how to deal with them in a healthy way.
How can you neutralize a narcissist?
It’s often thought that behind a narcissistic person is someone fragile or manipulable.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. While there are narcissists who fit the profile, there are others whose ego and idolatry of self are genuine.
Nevertheless, the popular profile of the disorder is disputed by researchers. This is why you should be very careful when dealing with these people. On many occasions, this type of personality generates conflicts and problems, so it’s best to keep a distance or know how to deal with these people in a healthy manner.
We’d like to offer 7 tricks to neutralize a narcissist.
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1. Learn to say no
“No” is not just the magic word to learn to neutralize a narcissist. It’s the pillar that supports all the other tips, one that you must assimilate sooner rather than later.
You must remember that these people want those around them to approve of their behaviors, their opinions, and their actions. They may use different techniques to do this, from manipulation to communication.
If you learn to say no to these unhealthy behaviors, opinions, and actions, then you’ll be building a solid boundary that will separate you from the person with this personality disorder. You’ll prevent them from controlling or manipulating you, not to mention the fact that you won’t encourage his ego feeding.
A narcissist is hungry for approval. Even if they don’t need it to feed their personality, they’re always looking for it. Stopping from giving them approval is like cutting off the head of the snake, as you attack the problem at its root.
Start by reminding yourself that you don’t deserve certain treatment and that you are not willing to tolerate it. Learn to say no.
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2. Don’t focus on them to neutralize a narcissist
A person with this disorder always demands attention. However, we’re not talking about the kind of attention that translates into applause. After all, no matter how little it is, any attention is welcome.
If you don’t pay attention to what they say or what they do, you’re doing the opposite of what they expect you to do.
However, this is much easier said than done, since a narcissist is an expert at getting your attention. Sometimes, you have to learn to simply deal with their presence, which means you can’t ignore them completely. What you can do, however, is to keep interaction to a minimum, as well as your interest in what they do.
3. Don’t be nervous in their presence
Someone with this disorder has a high appearance of self-esteem (inflated and distorted, but not genuine), a powerful ego, and apparently unmatched confidence. They often function very well in society, have enviable communication skills, and are adept at standing out in front of others. It’s natural to feel a little nervous when you’re in front of him or her.
Eliminating nervousness, anxiety, or feelings of inferiority is another thing you need to do to neutralize a narcissist. If you show all this, his or her personality will be strengthened, and he or she won’t be afraid to crush you with it. The few times you have to deal with them be firm, keep a calm attitude, and never underestimate yourself.
4. Set boundaries right away to neutralize a narcissist
One of the best techniques to protect yourself from a narcissist is to set boundaries from minute one. If you detect with the first meeting that a person suffers from this disorder, there’s nothing like reducing your chances of suffering immediately.
To do this, you can consider the following:
- Don’t let their priorities take precedence over yours.
- Don’t let them overvalue their opinions or actions and do the opposite with yours.
- Explicitly communicate how far they can go (what they can say in front of you or what they can do around you).
- Be prepared to identify the signs that they are trying to manipulate you.
- Let them know that they’re no more or less than anyone else.
- Finally, walk away if you feel that their personality is absorbing you or draining you in any way.
These are just are some ideas you can apply to counteract a narcissistic person. If you couldn’t do it from the first meeting, you still have time to do it. You just need to be confident and determined in case you think their attitude is taking over your life.
5. Don’t be manipulated or change your mind
Manipulation is one of the many facets of narcissistic personality disorder. Among many other things, people do it to demonstrate their power or influence over others. They often don’t do it in an imposing or abrupt way at first, but it’s something they work at gradually.
In any case, a narcissist will always attempt to control you, whether this is intentional or unintentional. They will try to modify your habits, your opinions, ideas and actions.
For example, he may influence you to replace your style of dress with one that he considers better. So, what you should never do is change your mind, especially when it comes to things that go against your principles or ideals.
6. Downplay their achievements and skills to neutralize a narcissist
Another trick to deal with a narcissist is to downplay their achievements or skills.
We suggested above that you ignore them, except on those occasions when it’s strictly necessary to deal with them. However, if they show the more extraordinary side of their personality, you can compensate by downplaying their accomplishments.
For example, someone with this disorder will make you believe that they are more attractive, more intelligent, or more qualified to perform a task. You can let him know that his opinions are overrated, which doesn’t mean denying them. Telling him that he’s not as attractive, that you know smarter people, or that you’re more qualified for an activity will eat him up inside.
7. Show your skills, too
Connecting with the above, we suggest another tip to neutralize a narcissist: show your skills, too. Nervousness should never invade you in their presence. However, that doesn’t mean practicing false modesty or hiding your skills.
Don’t be afraid to show them the things you’re better at to give them a healthy dose of reality. If he or she brags about certain academic performance, life achievements or qualities, then don’t be afraid to let him or her know that you’ve done similar things.
This and the other recommendations will allow you to neutralize a narcissist.
As we discussed at the beginning, narcissism is a mental disorder that can be slightly improved with professional help. However, expectations should be realistic: it’s a complex problem and often requires a long healing process. If you know someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder and care about them, help them seek specialized support.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Miller, J. D., Lynam, D. R., Hyatt, C. S., & Campbell, W. K. Controversies in narcissism. Annual review of clinical psychology. 2017: 13: 291-315.
- Mitra, P., & Fluyau, D. Narcissistic Personality Disorder. 2020.