It’s no secret that talking to a narcissist often feels like a lose-lose situation. You’re probably used to the narcissist manipulating reality and blaming you for everything.
They don’t take personal accountability for their actions and react with rage when things don’t go their way. It can all feel frustrating and discouraging.
That said, it’s important to know how to respond to a narcissist to maintain your own dignity and well-being.
In this article, we’ll go over the best things to say, how to respond to a narcissist, and phrases to disarm a narcissist when you need to shut them down.
The Art of Responding to a Narcissist
Knowing what to say to a narcissist isn’t always easy, especially when you’re in the middle of an argument.
Remember that normal communication strategies don’t necessarily work when dealing with people with narcissistic personality disorder.
Instead of aiming to build connections, you need to focus on disengaging as much as possible.
21 Key Phrases to Disarm a Narcissist
Dealing with a narcissist can be challenging, and you’re probably used to feeling bombarded in your interactions.
Narcissistic rage is exhausting, so here’s what to say to a narcissist to shut them down or avoid emotional drama.
“I’m Sorry You’re Feeling That Way”
You can feel sorry for someone without apologizing for your own actions or boundaries.
This is an important phrase to keep in your back pocket when the narcissist accuses you of hurting them or wants to displace blame onto you.
Continue reading: How to respond to a fake apology from a Narcissist
“I Won’t Argue With You About This”
Narcissists love a good argument. It’s how they maintain a sense of power and control in their relationships.
That said, you’re allowed to have limits that protect your mental health. Simply stating that you won’t engage in a particular conflict disarms a narcissist quickly.
Continue reading: What happens if the Narcissist loses his control over you?
“I Will Continue Doing What I Need to Do”
This phrase shows that you plan to uphold your boundaries. You won’t let the narcissist walk all over you and determine how you act.
“I See Where You’re Coming From”
Even though narcissists crave validation, this kind of statement disarms them in an argument.
They want you to react and disagree- they feel a sense of moral superiority when you act defensively.
This is also a benign statement that’s hard to argue with. It’s validating enough that it shows you’re paying attention, but it doesn’t give the narcissist any more to argue with.
“I Respect Your Perspective”
What is the best way to react to a narcissist when they’re trying to “win” an argument? Compliment them with a neutral statement.
It’s disorienting to them because they’re waiting for you to argue or become defensive.
Some people become less ego-focused when they realize their loved one cares about their well-being.
“I Understand Your Feelings”
This is another way to disarm a narcissist because you convey that you see where they’re coming from.
Narcissists crave attention; most narcissistic behavior is a reaction to feeling unloved or unimportant.
This phrase may move them away from their typical anger or defensive mode.
“I’ll Consider Your Perspective”
This shows that you’ve heard their opinion and may even take it to heart.
Ultimately, what you do with their perspective is your choice, but the key is that you have agency in this decision!
“I Won’t Be Changing My Mind”
You’re inherently entitled to your own values and beliefs.
Setting this clear boundary shows that you aren’t feeding the narcissism and won’t let them manipulate you into thinking or acting a certain way.
“I Am My Own Person”
This phrase can be particularly helpful if you’re dealing with narcissistic parents.
Narcissistic parents generally see their children as extensions of themselves. They have a hard time accepting behavior that they disapprove of.
They also feel entitled to give their input, which is why you may need to remind them of your own independence.
Continue reading: Do Narcissists love their children?
“I’m Going to Avoid Engaging In This Right Now”
If you need a break, walking away and stopping engaging is okay.
Narcissists hate when people do this, but you have every right to take care of yourself.
“I’m Sure We’ll Figure It Out”
Narcissists often become extremely dramatic when things don’t go their way or when they sense they’re losing control over a situation.
This phrase is equally calm and optimistic- it doesn’t exude this overeager sense of positivity, but it shows that you’re not panicking the same way they are.
“That’s Good to Know”
If a narcissist starts spewing out information or showing an inflated sense of superiority over you, you can diffuse the situation with this simple phrase.
It shows that you’re paying attention to the conversation and not outwardly saying they’re right or wrong about anything.
“I’ll Wait Until You Stop Interrupting Me”
If you two are trying to resolve a conflict, you must have room to talk about what’s going on.
Narcissists often interrupt conversations, so make it a point that you won’t talk until you can ensure you can speak freely.
“No, I Won’t Be Doing That”
You’re allowed to say no to anyone, and that includes narcissists. You can provide as little or as much detail about why you’re saying no.
“I Have X Minutes to Discuss This”
It’s reasonable to give narcissists a time limit when you’re arguing. Because narcissists are master manipulators and don’t necessarily care how their actions affect others, you may need to provide a concrete rule about how long you will choose to engage in a particular conversation.
“This Is My Boundary, and I Will Be Keeping It”
Remind the narcissist of your boundaries as often as you need. You’re always allowed to have limits, but the most important thing is that you enforce them (even when the narcissist tries to convince you otherwise).
“I Need Some Time to Think About This”
Narcissists sometimes have a way of making everything feel like it has an intense urgency attached to it.
But, in reality, you don’t need to respond right away or give in to their demands on a whim. You can take time to consider your decision.
“Thank You For Letting Me Know”
This is a neutral statement with no emotion attached to it. It doesn’t reinforce anything the narcissist says or does.
“I Get Why This Is Important to You”
You can acknowledge understanding why something matters to a narcissist without reinforcing it further.
This phrase disarms a narcissist because it’s validating and reduces the chance of them arguing back with you.
“I Do Not Condone Passive-Aggressive Communication”
Sometimes communicating with a fragile or covert narcissist can be more challenging than dealing with a more overt, grandiose narcissist.
That’s because they tend to be indirect in their interactions, causing you to feel even more gaslit.
When interacting with them, be sure to remind them that you expect clear, assertive communication.
Things You Should Say to a Narcissist
It’s important to remember that narcissists crave attention. Even when they present as grandiose, self-centered, and confident, they often have very low self-esteem, which drives their toxic behavior.
If you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse, you must be aware of how positive and negative attention reinforces problematic communication.
If a narcissist crosses your boundary, follow through with your consequences.
If you want to know how to verbally disarm a narcissist, you have to keep these considerations in mind:
- don’t yell or make empty threats
- stay focused and calm (as much as possible)
- remember that the other person’s narcissism isn’t your fault
- understand that their thought process is very different from yours
- separate yourself from their personal attacks
- remember that they’re often self-absorbed and focused on protecting themselves
- they want to feel superior at all costs (even if it’s irrational)
- they also want to feel heard and understood, which you may be able to provide
Powerful Phrases to Shut Down a Narcissist
Shutting down a narcissist often requires skill and effort. You also need to be confident in your ability to stand your ground. With that in mind, here are some effective phrases to respond to a narcissist:
“I Don’t See It That Way, But I See Why You Do”
This phrase honors that you two have differences. You’re acknowledging that you understand why they have a certain perspective, but you’re also noting that you see things differently.
“Your ___ Is Not My Responsibility”
Narcissists love to project emotions onto other people. But you are not responsible for their anger, sadness, shame, or fear. Letting them know that establishes clear boundaries in your relationship.
“I Can’t Change How You Feel About ___”
People with NPD often want others to fix their emotional states. or mental health issues. You can provide support and guidance but can’t change how someone feels.
“I Won’t Let You Treat Me That Way”
Dealing with a narcissist involves actions rooted in strong boundaries. At some point, you have to stand firm and disarm a narcissist by telling them you won’t tolerate their abuse.
They will likely internalize this as a personal attack, but don’t let that dissuade you.
“I’m Sorry We’re Disagreeing”
You can ‘acknowledge that you feel upset or uncomfortable about your conflict.
This shows a sense of validation but also conveys that you aren’t changing your opinion on a whim.
Saying Nothing at All
One of the best ways to disarm a narcissist is by ignoring them altogether.
At first, this may seem uncomfortable, but you must keep yourself safe and feeling protected.
How Do You Permanently Shut Down a Narcissist?
What is the best way to stop a narcissist? Disengage completely. Show no emotional connection to anything they say or do.
Act as disinterested as possible. They’d rather someone hate them than be bored or neutral about them.
How Do You Take Power Away From a Narcissist?
Narcissists lose their power when they lose their narcissistic supply. If they don’t have your attention, they no longer have such high levels of control.
Walking away from the relationship, going no-contact, or setting extremely strong boundaries takes away their power.
What to Say to Make a Narcissist Feel Bad?
Keep in mind that it’s hard to make narcissists feel bad. They’re used to justifying their actions and do whatever they can to avoid feeling vulnerable (even when that means lying to themselves or others).
So, don’t focus so much on making them feel bad- instead, focus on what makes you feel good and safe.
Continue reading: How to piss off a Narcissist?
What Phrases Shut Down a Narcissist?
Disarming a narcissist requires that you remain calm, neutral, and disinterested.
Any of the above phrases should help break up some of the blame and control narcissists have in their relationships.
Remember that you may still feel responsible for hurting the narcissist’s feelings, which can speak to the intense effects of narcissistic abuse syndrome.
What to Say to Outsmart a Narcissist?
Unfortunately, you’re not on an equal playing field when dealing with a narcissist.
They will say or do whatever it takes to preserve their ego, which often entails lots of low blows.
Focus on your actions over your words. Set clear boundaries. Maintain your own identity.
Consider getting professional help if you need to set better limits in your relationship.
The more you work on yourself, the more you distance yourself from the narcissist’s power and control.