6 clever phrases to turn the tables on a narcissist

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If you’ve ever dealt with a narcissist, you know how difficult it is. 

Just getting a word in can be a mission, never mind communicating your point effectively when they’re in a rage.

And you better believe they’ll use every tactic in the NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) playbook. 

Sometimes, it’s like banging your head against a brick wall. Every conversation is one-sided and about them, how they feel, and what they want. You don’t even enter their mind.

Talk about emotionally draining, huh? 

It’s enough to make you want to walk away and forget the whole thing. But let’s face it, that’s not always possible. 

Well, what if I told you there was a simple solution? A way to beat them at their own game and fight fire with fire! 

All it takes is some tactful word choices.

So, if you want to turn the tables on a narcissist, here are six clever phrases you can use the next time you’re dealing with someone who thinks they have the upper hand.

Let’s go!

1) “No”

We’re just beginning this list and we’re already starting off strong here!

When it comes to narcissists, it’s best to keep your responses brief. And nothing quite cuts to the chase like “No” or “No. That doesn’t work for me”.

Think about it.

Not only does “no” project strength and let them know you’re not okay. But it also prevents them from using your words against you. 

Don’t forget – narcissists are master manipulators

So the more information you give them, the more likely they’ll use their manipulative word salad to twist what you say and use it to their advantage. 

“No” shuts them down before they see an opening.

Plus it helps create boundaries. Something you need when dealing with people who can’t see past their own agenda.

Sure. It’s short and sweet. But sometimes that’s all you need. 

After all, less is more. And I think we can all agree, we don’t say “No” enough.

2) “Let’s agree to disagree”

Trying to communicate with someone who has narcissistic tendencies is a challenge. Okay, let’s be frank. It’s a massive pain in the butt.

And if you’ve ever been put in that situation, you know exactly what I mean when I say this.

There’s no point arguing with a narcissist! It’s hopeless.

Simply put – when a conversation has more twists and turns than a David Fincher film, sometimes, it’s best to “Agree to disagree”.

At the end of the day, they want a rise out of you. 

So, engaging further in a perpetual and futile war of words only benefits them. 

Basically, you’re giving them exactly what they want and them some.

Instead, this simple phrase allows you to take the high road. It’s a respectful way to resolve conflict without actually backing down or showing weakness. 

What’s more, by agreeing to disagree, it shows that you heard them. You simply have a difference of opinion, and that’s all right. 

3) “I understand”

This might be news to you, there’s more than one type of narcissist. And some are more obvious, than others.

But they all have one thing in common. They have trouble processing their emotions

Because of this, they often feel misunderstood. Not only that, they struggle to be objective – especially in the heat of the moment.

So, by letting them know that you understand, you help validate them. In turn, this can calm a heated discussion or pointless disagreement in a respectful manner. 

However, it’s important to note that saying “I understand” isn’t the same as agreeing with them. 

Instead, it’s a nice way to put their mind at ease. 

I know. I know. It can be difficult to resist giving them a taste of their own medicine. 

But if you try to correct or embarrass them publicly, there’s a risk it’ll backfire and make the situation far worse – for you and them. 

And remember “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. 

Although, maybe avoid saying this particular phrase in front of your narcissistic friend. 

4) “I hear you”

Similar to “I understand”, “I hear you” allows the narcissist to feel validated. 

After all, that’s what they want.

Again, you’re not necessarily agreeing with them. But by hearing them out, you’re giving them the chance to explain. 

The idea is – this gets them to back off when you don’t wish to engage any further.

Think of it as an artful sidestep.

When all is said and done, admitting that you listened to them and understood what they were saying is all they’ll hear.

At the same time, the use of “I” statements emphasizes your needs. 

This assertiveness statement focuses on you and your feelings instead of pointing the finger at them and their behavior – something that may make them feel singled out. 

In fact, experts claim the use of “I feel” over “you never” makes people more receptive. Essentially it feels less accusatory. 

Listen – you know how much they like to play the victim!

And because it’s short, snappy, and to the point, there’s less ammunition for them to misconstrue or distort. 

5) “I remember it differently”

Going up against a narcissist can be like you’re on an episode of Mastermind. Your memory is put to the ultimate test. 

And by the end of it, everything you thought you knew has somehow been turned on its head. 

Perhaps they deny saying something, turn your own words against you, or tell you that “you’re imagining it”. 

Let’s just say, they have no qualms about doing whatever it takes to confuse, manipulate, and control you

Even if that means lying.

That’s why it’s important to take a stand and let them know that you “remember it differently”. 

This phrase not only establishes that you remember exactly what happened. But it does so in a diplomatic way. 

What’s more, it reminds them that they can’t get away with manipulating events – at least not with you.

6) “I can’t control how you feel about me”

Narcissists love to play the blame game. And surprise, surprise, they’re actually very good at it.

But the thing is, you really can’t control how others feel. 

Their emotions are their responsibility, not yours. 

So, by pointing that out (calmly, of course) you let them know that you refuse to play that game

You’re asserting your emotional autonomy and setting the precedent moving forward.

Not only that, but you’re holding them accountable by forcing them to look in the mirror and face their feelings.  

Because, whether they want to admit it or not, those emotions are theirs and theirs alone.

Sometimes, we just need a little reminder of that – narcissist or not.

Leila El-Dean

Leila is a passionate writer with a background in photography and art. She has over ten years of experience in branding, marketing, and building websites. She loves travelling and has lived in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Malta. When she’s not writing (or ogling cats), Leila loves trying new food and drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.

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