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Overcoming Toxic People

How to Checkmate a Narcissist

How to Checkmate a Narcissist and Stop Them in Their Tracks

Are you ready to put a narcissist in their place and stop their endless head games? I’ve dealt with numerous abusive narcissists over the years. And, here are nine of the most effective ways I’ve found to shutdown a narcissist.

Take Control of the Narcissist’s Narrative

Narcissists survive their emotional insecurities by creating a story around their life, and then trying to fit everyone else in to that story. Stop a narcissist in their tracks by reversing that story back at them.

First, you need a little skill in observation, so that you can work out what type of narrative you are in. Narcissists generally have one of two types of stories about you —

  1. They are the savior you are the meek beneficiary of their heroism
  2. You are the oppressor, and they are the undeserving victim

More about this in: “Recognizing Narcissistic Behavior | Unexpected Signs of a Narcissist”

When you find out how they have cast you, just say directly to their face: “You are not the hero here.” Or, “I am not oppressing you.”

A blunt statement like this that bares open their hidden intentions is often enough to stop them in their tracks.

Show Them Their Manipulation Doesn’t Work on You

Narcissists will keep pushing forms of manipulation that work. Stop them by being careful to give them no reaction.

While narcissists prefer for their manipulation to get you to do what they want from you, they will also accept any negative or combative reaction as a win. Narcissists just want to stir up drama and get in your head.

This can take some discipline and commitment. But if you can stay stone faced as they try to rile you up – either by not caring or not noticing their transgressions — then you can shut down a narcissist hardcore.

Use the “Narcissistic Dog Training” Method

This is a method that I first described in “How to Overcome a Narcissistic Boss”. By using the principals of dog training on a narcissist, we can teach them to treat us with dignity and respect.

Just like a dog, narcissists want something from you. Dogs want a treat, but narcissists want praise and acknowledgment of their superiority.

With both, if you give them what they want when they beg, whine, or act out, then they learn that’s how to act to get a treat. And, they do it more and more.

Instead, only give them what they want when they are acting right, according to the limits you have set for them. Otherwise, don’t punish them. Rather, withhold the treat and reiterate what you expect from them. Being calm and patent works wonders with this type of training.

Make Your Victory, the Narcissist’s Victory

Narcissists view every part of life as a competition, and will do anything to win. Checkmate a narcissist by joining their team!

Make it fun, and play a game with them where, when the narcissist shows how they one-upped you, thank them for their contribution. Say, “I couldn’t have done this without you.”

This will rattle them, and perhaps get them to play along. A narcissist that gets pride when you succeed is a powerful ally to have.

Let Them Give You Advice

Another way to get a narcissist on board with you is to let them be your mentor. Ask them for advice, and make a show of following it to the letter.

This way, if they criticize or disparage you, just say, “I was just following your advice.”

Talk Up the Narcissist, Giving Them a Standard to Live Up to

I love this method of shutting up a narcissist. Paint an exaggerated almost superhero like image of the narcissist when you talk about them.

The narcissist can do no wrong. They are strong, loyal, supportive, etc. The narcissist will absolutely love this and eat it up.

Then, when they act out, insult you, or manipulate you just state, “Quit playing around! My narcissist would never stoop so low as to …” Force them to live up to the grand image that you have made for them, and that they accepted for themselves.

Don’t Take the Narcissist Seriously

When a narcissist is trying to push their buttons, just takes it like they are making a joke. Don’t take anything that they say or do seriously.

This really gets under a narcissist’s skin. They demand to be taken seriously, and the more upset they get, the funnier you should make it seem.

Very quickly, the narcissist will stop whatever they were doing.

Watch What You Say and Limit the Ammunition You Give to a Narcissist

A narcissist can’t attack you if they don’t have any weak points to exploit. This method works best for narcissists at your work or other less personal environments.

At first, a narcissist will try to get to know you, even seem like they like you. Just so that they can learn what buttons to push.

When they ask about you, don’t give them any details. Respond in the most generic and bland way possible. Make it seem like you have no particular personality or interests.

This leaves a narcissist completely helpless, without ammunition to use against you later.

More on similar tactics to this in “How to Deal with Narcissistic Coworkers”.

Be Ready to Cut Them Out When Necessary

Lastly, you may just have to shut down your narcissist entirely, but cutting them out of your life. If a narcissist won’t stop, you have to cut them out entirely.

Here are some additional articles that help you get out of toxic environments various situations —

What drives a narcissist insane?

Narcissists are driven insane when they feel like they don’t have control of the situation. They are only comfortable when they are confident they can manage other people’s perceptions of them, generally called “narcissistic supply.”

How do I take control of a narcissist?

You control a narcissist when you make yourself immune to their attacks, yet are able to see their emotional drives and dole out appropriate rewards to control their behavior.