How to Outsmart a Narcissist
Do You Know a Narcissist?
Have you ever had the misfortune of being around a narcissist? You can usually pick them out because they are the one who cannot stop talking about themselves. I am not referring to the basic human trait of being proud of a job well-done. I am referring to the person who thinks the sun rises and falls on them, the one who thinks everything is always all about them.
If you have ever had to deal with a narcissist, then you know what I am talking about. These people are annoying, at best. They are egotistical and grate on people's nerves. These are the types of people I try to avoid. If you can't elude them, you'll need to outsmart them to avoid falling prey to their tricks. Here's how.
Narcissism (as defined by the Free Dictionary): 1. Excessive love or admiration for oneself. 2. A psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem. 3. Erotic pleasure derived from contemplation or admiration of one's own body or self, especially as a fixation on or a regression to an infantile stage of development. 4. The attribute of the human psyche characterized by admiration of oneself but within normal limits.
Other similar words include conceited, self-absorbed, egotistic, self-centered, selfish, self-loving, vain, stuck-up, and prideful.
Identifying a Narcissist
A narcissist is not hard to spot if you know what to look for. You can't always tell right away, but it is only a matter of time before this beast rears its ugly head.
Here are some notable narcissistic characteristics which are quite funny (and irritating) for the people who are subjected to them:
- They are the life of the party. They are charismatic, funny, charming, talkative, and tell the most interesting stories. They talk like they have microphones in their hands. In their charming anecdotes, they play the role of hero, leader, genius, savior, and guru. They know all the right people, say all the right things, and can do no wrong. It's like they're on stage reading really well-written scripts, all the time.
- They are always right about everything. It does not matter if the sky is blue. If a narcissist sees green, he will be right, even if you show him proof in a science book. They dominate everyone and everything. They believe their ways are correct and are so narrow-minded that no other way could possibly be right.
- Everyone else is always wrong. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that they are always right about everything. And if all the evidence indicates that they are wrong, they will insist that the evidence was invented and planted by the enemy. They find happiness making everyone else aware that they are inferior. And since they're always right and you're always wrong, if something goes wrong between you, it's always your fault.
- They are rarely happy. And it's your fault they're not happy, too. They will whine and complain about every tiny injustice they feel has been done to them. My theory is that narcissists think they are so wonderful they cannot figure out why they can never live up to their own expectations.
- They never forget. If you make a mistake, a narcissist will not let you forget about it. They take everything personally and feel that every mistake is directed right at themselves. You cannot escape their wrath.
- They have no conscience. Rules don't apply to them. They can appear, at first, to be extremely nice people, until you get to know them. If they make a mistake, they will be sure to blame it on someone else. They are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions. They say one thing and do another.
- They will twist everything you say and do. Honesty means nothing to them. You can be honest with them about your feelings, but they will use the information as ammunition against you. If you choose to feed the narcissist, plan to enter into a battle zone.
Narcissists can be verbally abusive, maybe even physically, and will throw a tantrum if you dare to challenge them.
How to Deal with a Narcissist
Choose one or more methods from this list:
- Don't. You'll never change them and they'll never admit to their issues, so you're better off without them. If this isn't possible, then at least...
- Know what you're dealing with. First, know that they are a narcissist. Second, determine precisely what kind you're dealing with: a vulnerable narcissist (aka "shy" or "covert," the emotionally wobbly, often defensive type that swings back and forth between feeling superior and inferior) or a grandiose narcissist (aka "arrogant" or "overt," the more shameless type). Third, read everything on this topic you can get your hands on. Knowledge is power.
- Adjust your expectations. You'll never "fix" them or get them to join your team. They'll always be righteous and self-centered and they'll never do anything for you, for team spirit, or for the greater good. Still, narcissists have their strengths. Learn to recognize them for what they are and modify your expectations accordingly.
- Get what you want out of it. If there's something in the relationship for you, then know what that is and make sure you get it. Just remember that you're most likely to get what you want from a narcissist only when they want something from you.
Avoiding the Narcissist
Word to the wise: There is little you can do to help, change, or fix a narcissist, so focus on yourself. I have learned you will never make him happy, so stop wasting your time. For them, it's all a game of cat-and-mouse and they'll jump on each and every chance to play cat. If you are in a relationship with them, they will give love and take it away as a way to control you. It will not help to rationalize their behavior or try to figure out why they do what they do. That's what being in a relationship with a narcissist is all about.
Dealing with one can be challenging, nerve-wracking, and downright exhausting. You will nod your head in agreement just so they will go away so you can finally roll your eyes, take a deep breath, and exhale.
My suggestion? Avoid them, if you are able to. Don't start relationships with them. If you see one, run the other direction. If they try to draw you into their webs, make it clear from the start that you won't play their games. Set clear boundaries. Earplugs are a fantastic way of blocking out sound as well as make a subtle point.
Sometimes, they are unavoidable, and sometimes, you realize what they are too late. You may be working with one, for example. If you are married to one, I am very sorry. You are a stronger person than me. I chose divorce over being subjected to the constant abuse.