People who turn the tables on narcissists tend to use these 6 clever tactics

Among the defining traits of narcissism, manipulation is a big one.

Since narcissists struggle to feel empathy for others, they often use people as a means to an end, be it for financial gain, emotional validation, or a sense of power.

Luckily, there is a way to handle a narcissist – or at least protect yourself from their mind games.

Let’s dive right in. People who turn the tables on narcissists tend to use these 6 clever tactics.

1) They set firm boundaries – and reinforce them when necessary

Alright, the number one tactic to deal with a narcissist is to establish your boundaries in a firm and assertive manner.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Except plenty of people struggle to set boundaries in healthy relationships, let alone when a narcissist is added to the equation.

The key here is to use “I” statements, stick to rational arguments, and remain calm.

“I feel uncomfortable when you speak to me that way. Don’t do it.”

“I need space to process my feelings. Let’s take a break for a few hours and come back to this when I’m calmer.”

“I’m too busy to help you next weekend. Stop asking me to change my plans. It makes me uncomfortable.”

If you grew up as a people-pleaser, these kinds of statements may sound too aggressive or confrontational. In truth, they’re perfectly fine.

There is just enough firmness for a narcissist to understand that you’re not going to let them walk all over you, but you’re also not giving them anything to use against you.

The next step?

Honor those boundaries. If they continue to speak to you in the same way, leave the room. If they blame you for wanting space during an argument, stick to your decision. And if they keep asking you to help them out even when you clearly don’t have time, don’t turn up.

A narcissist will try to use any chance they can get to manipulate you, be it through gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or projecting. Don’t let them.

2) They acknowledge the narcissist’s feelings…

Seeing as many narcissists are starved for validation, they love to place blame, guilt-trip, and seek sympathy.

Ironically, it is precisely when you give them what they’re looking for that they’re caught off guard.

What do you mean that you understand how they feel? Wow, it’s so refreshing– and baffling – to see that someone truly empathizes with them!

This usually placates them and takes the edge off.

However, you must go about this in a clever way – while it’s a good thing to acknowledge someone’s feelings, you also shouldn’t enable them or support them in their victim mentality.

Balance is everything.

3) …but also call them out on their manipulative behavior

Show empathy, then make it clear that no matter how much you understand where they’re coming from, their behavior is still unacceptable.

“I understand you’re upset, and it must be really hard for you. But I also feel upset when you speak to me in that way, so I’d like us to de-escalate.”

“I know this is really upsetting and stressful, but guilt-tripping me isn’t going to help anything. I won’t stand for this.”

Narcissists love to manipulate people into doing exactly what they want, and if they see time and again that their tricks don’t work on you, they’ll eventually give up.

Don’t be afraid to call them out. But don’t expect them to tell you that you’re right, either. More likely than not, they will deny the facts because they won’t want to lose face.

It’ll get them thinking, though. It’ll force them to distance themselves. And sometimes, that’s enough.

4) They masterfully direct the flow of the conversation

Another clever tactic to try out is to always stay mindful of where the conversation is taking you.

A manipulative narcissist will try to swerve it in a direction that’s in their favor.

They will bring up side arguments that have very little to do with the main argument in question, twist the narrative around, and change the topic if it doesn’t serve them.

Again, don’t let them.

If they use a logical fallacy just to win an argument, point it out and direct the conversation back on track. If they suddenly change the topic, call them out on it.

You don’t need to do so in an aggressive way, mind you – it’s important that you always stay calm.


Let’s find out…

5) They always remain emotionally detached

One of the most important rules when speaking to a narcissist is to never let your feelings get the better of you.

The thing is, narcissists thrive on emotional chaos. They want to use your feelings to their advantage, from guilt and shame to pity, grief, or anger.

People are generally more easily manipulated when they’re in a highly emotional state.

That’s when the rational part of our brain doesn’t function as well, and we’re more prone to making bad decisions, saying things we don’t mean, and… yep, giving in to people who want to manipulate us.

This is exactly why it’s vital to keep your cool when dealing with a narcissist.

Yes, it’s hard. Trust me, I’ve been in regular contact with a narcissist for years. I know how much emotional maturity and detachment it takes to get through those conversations in one piece.

But if you don’t want a narcissist to have the upper hand in your relationship with them, it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t take their words personally, don’t assign their opinions of you much value, and keep things as polite and detached as possible.

6) They don’t attempt to change the narcissist

If there’s one thing dealing with a narcissist has taught me, it’s that you can’t change them. You can’t fix them.

And all that effort you put into trying to change them for the better is a waste of time.

Look, I’m not saying you can’t attempt to nudge them in the right direction. In fact, a narcissist I know has been going to therapy for a few months now, partly because I suggested it to them.

It’s okay to feel concerned for them and offer some kind of help. But there comes a point when you’ve got to prioritize your own well-being.

And ultimately, that is the most effective way to turn the tables on narcissists. Show them that you are your number one priority, just like they are theirs.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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