How to Respond To a Narcissist – A Comprehensive Guide

How do narcissists communicate? How do I respond to a narcissist? What are a narcissist’s manipulative tactics? How can I disarm a narcissist? If you are looking for answers to these and more questions, this article is for you.

My name is Sean Galla, and I have been an online support group facilitator for over ten years. In my line of work, I have overseen numerous support groups, including the facilitation of narcissist support groups for men with narcissistic wives. Part of the work we do in our support group is to offer information to help members better understand narcissism.

In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about how to respond to a narcissist.

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Written by

Sean Galla

An experienced facilitator, community builder and Peer Support Specialist, Sean has been running men's groups for 10+ years. Read Sean's Full Author Bio.

Why is Communication with a Narcissist Difficult? 

People living with narcissistic personality disorder or NPD view the world through their self-involved lenses. Narcissists have an insatiable need for attention and admiration. They have an inflated sense of self-importance and think they are better than everyone else. 

Narcissists come in two major types:

  • Overt (grandiose) narcissists have high self-esteem and love showing off and bragging. These narcs also have an extreme sense of self-importance and entitlement.
  • The covert narcissist is the opposite and may have insecurities, seem shy and withdrawn, passive-aggressive, and very sensitive to criticism.

In a narcissistic relationship, communicating is not easy for many reasons:

Lack of empathy

It’s challenging to communicate with a narcissist because of their lack of empathy and poor listening skills. A narcissist is only concerned about their own opinions, desires, and needs. In conversations, they invalidate other people’s experiences and opinions and only want to talk about themselves. They talk over others and interrupt them mid-conversation, not listening to what others say. In their opinion, only their input matters.

Manipulation Tactics

Narcissists are skilled at manipulation tactics. In conversations, they use different tactics like gaslighting to get their way. Gaslighting is a type of narcissistic abuse and manipulation that makes you doubt your reality and memory. The narc twists the truth, distorts facts and lies about events to undermine your credibility and make you look crazy. They deny events, even if you have the facts, causing you to question your sanity.

Desire for Dominance and control

Narcissists have an unquenchable need for dominance and control. Any challenge to their authority makes them feel threatened. They perceive any attempt to have meaningful communication as a power struggle and use arguments, aggression, or confrontation to maintain dominance. 

Make you feel small

Communication attempts with a narc leaves you feeling small. A narcissist resorts to shaming and devaluing to ensure they receive all the attention and validation. They want all focus on them, leaving the other party feeling unheard, leading to feelings of shame and silence from the other party.

Find all the information you need on how to divorce a narcissist here.


Common Baiting Techniques Used by Narcissists

Narcissists use baiting as a tactic to get negative emotional reactions. Narcissists crave attention and admiration or narcissistic supply. When they bait others and get emotional responses, they thrive off the attention they get from their targets, giving them the validation they desire.

They use the emotional reactions of others to deflect attention from their flaws rather than address their issues. Some of the baiting techniques include:

Smear campaign

 A smear campaign is a tactic that narcissists use to damage your reputation and relationships by spreading lies and rumors about you. The purpose is to discredit and undermine you, often for the narcissist’s gain of power, control, or revenge.


Narcissists often use guilt-tripping to manipulate others by playing the victim to get sympathy. This tactic works because it plays on people’s compassion. When it’s a narcissistic parent, you feel obligated to help them, making you vulnerable to their narcissistic manipulation.


Narcissists use the hoovering technique to re-establish contact and maintain control of an ex-spouse or partner. Hovering includes extravagant romantic gestures, love confessions, fake remorse, and promises to change. The narc uses hoovering to make the spouse believe they have changed and give them and come back.


Triangulation is a manipulation tactic where a couple argues, and the narcissistic partner pulls in a third person, forming a triangle. The purpose of bringing in a third party is to stay in control, and there is little or no communication between the two, except via the narcissist.

How to Respond To a Narcissist: Disarming a Narcissist

Narcissists get extremely volatile and fly into a narcissistic rage toward anyone with whom they are in disagreement. Most people arguing with a narcissist let it go or avoid the individual. Other people may try to diffuse the situation, which is challenging but possible. the best way to disarm a narcissist is by learning how to manipulate a narcissist. Here are some of the responses that can disarm a narcissist and manipulate them into responding better.

I do not like how you are speaking to me, so I refuse to engage

A narcissist says mean and devaluing things and the best response is telling them you are not comfortable or you don’t like the tone or words they are using with you.

I hear you/ what you’re saying

When you say this to a narcissist, they feel heard, and it might diffuse a tense situation. This might be the quickest trick to disarm a narcissist, as everybody wants to feel seen and heard.

Everyone has a right to their opinion

This statement is a disclaimer to the narcissist that you are entitled to your opinion, just as they are. The narcissist wants to always feel in control, but stating this tells them that they cannot control you.

I’m Sorry if that’s how you feel 

You can sympathize and empathize with the narc without compromising your boundaries. You are telling them it is what it is and that you are not responsible for their feelings, but you still hear them.


How to Respond To a Narcissist: Dealing with a Narcissist

People living with narcissistic personality disorder thrive on creating drama and manipulating others. They use attention-seeking to get what they desire without concern for the people in their lives. If you’re in a relationship with someone with NPD, it is important to learn how to live with a narcissist, including how to respond to a narcissist’s text messages and face-to-face or phone call situations.

Here are some tips on managing interactions with somebody who has NPD.

Stay calm 

You must maintain composure when dealing with a narcissist. The calmer you are, the less likely the narc’s drama and attention-seeking behavior will affect you. Try calming methods to help you stay calm for your mental health and well-being. Try to take deep breaths or meditate whenever you feel triggered.

Set boundaries

Set healthy and clear boundaries with a narcissistic partner to gain their respect. Be clear and firm in expressing your limits and tell them you will not tolerate toxic behavior.

Don’t play their games

Resist the urge to play the narc’s mind games. Avoid the manipulation tactics like guilt-tripping and gaslighting they use to get their way. Use facts and avoid giving them the emotional reaction they are trying to reach from you.

Gray rock

Since the narcissist enjoys getting emotional responses from you, use the gray rock technique. In this technique, you act like a rock, and everything they tell you, you answer blandly until the narc loses interest in you.

Use “I” instead of “you” statements

Use “I statements” when talking to someone with narcissistic traits. This prevents them from going into a defensive mode and prevents escalation. For example, say, “I feel disrespected when…” or “I feel hurt when you…” instead of being accusatory.

Step away

Limit your interactions with your partner if their narcissistic behavior becomes too much to handle. If you must be around them, keep your conversations short and focused. Stepping away is okay if you feel like the interaction harms your self-worth.

Seek help

Seeking support from loved ones like family and friends or a mental health professional is crucial for you to maintain a healthy relationship with a narcissistic partner. Alternatively, join a support group or seek professional help.

No contact

When you go through emotional abuse from narcissistic behavior that escalates to domestic violence, you need to leave. Initiate the no-contact rule and block the partner on social media and your phone.

Joining a support group

Men’s Group is a men-only support forum that offers resources and meetings to anyone living with a narcissistic partner. With the proper support, anyone can heal from the trauma of narcissism. You will be in a group of men who have survived narcissistic abuse and understand your situation. This gives you a safe space to share and learn from others who have been in your type of situation. With a support system of other survivors, you can heal from your trauma and lead a healthy, successful, and happy life.

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Narcissists thrive on drama, attention, and emotional reactions. Learning how to spot a narcissist’s manipulative tactics will go a long way in avoiding getting triggered by their actions.

A group like Men’s Group offers you a platform where you can share your story to inspire others and get support to overcome the trauma of being a survivor of narcissistic spouses. A support group offers a safe space where you meet compassionate people willing to guide you through the recovery process.