9 phrases confident people use to shut down a narcissist

There’s a clear line between engaging in a healthy conversation and being subjected to a narcissist’s ego trip.

This line is often drawn by the words we choose to use. As a confident individual, you have a right to stand your ground without letting someone else take control of your emotions or belittle your thoughts.

Dealing with a narcissist can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. The key is in how you respond, and there are certain phrases that can help you maintain your composure and effectively shut down a narcissist.

In this article, we’re going to explore 9 of these powerful phrases. Let’s dive in and learn how to confidently handle those who thrive on superiority.

1) “I respect your perspective.”

Navigating a conversation with a narcissist can be much like walking a tightrope.

Narcissists are known for their inflated sense of self-importance and lack of empathy. They thrive on validation and often disregard others’ feelings in their pursuit of admiration.

But as confident individuals, we can disarm their self-centred narratives without resorting to their level of disrespect.

The phrase “I respect your perspective,” is a key tool in this process. It acknowledges the narcissist’s viewpoint without agreeing or submitting to it.

This statement is powerful because it maintains the respect and dignity of the conversation, preventing it from escalating into a heated argument.

Remember, your objective isn’t to win an argument or make them see your point of view. It’s about maintaining your boundaries and staying true to your values.

Use this phrase wisely to keep the conversation balanced and under your control. 

2) “That’s not my experience.”

We all have unique experiences and perspectives, a fact that narcissists often overlook, favoring their own views and experiences over everyone else’s.

I remember a time when I had to deal with a colleague who always assumed that his experiences were the standard for everyone else. His narcissistic tendencies often led to dismissive comments about our team’s insights or suggestions.

One day, I decided to use the phrase “That’s not my experience” in response to one of his sweeping statements. The room fell silent for a moment and he seemed taken aback.

This phrase did two things: It reminded him that others might have had different experiences and it also calmly invalidated his assumption without resorting to direct confrontation.

This phrase can serve as a powerful reminder that every individual’s experience is valid and important, even when they diverge from the narcissist’s narrative. It doesn’t seek to argue or belittle their viewpoint but simply asserts your own. It’s a subtle yet effective way of standing your ground without escalating the situation.

3) “Let’s focus on the issue at hand.”

Narcissists have a knack for diverting the conversation towards themselves or steering it away from the main issue, especially when they feel threatened or cornered. This tactic is known as “gaslighting”, a form of psychological manipulation to sow seeds of doubt and undermine the reality or sanity of others.

The phrase “Let’s focus on the issue at hand” is an effective countermeasure against such tactics. It brings the conversation back to the central topic, preventing them from shifting the narrative or creating distractions.

This strategy not only helps maintain control over the direction of the conversation but also enforces the importance of problem-solving and critical discussion over personal biases or tangents.

4) “I understand how you feel, but I see things differently.”

In interactions with a narcissist, it’s essential to validate their feelings without necessarily agreeing with their perspective. This helps maintain a respectful dialogue without giving them an opportunity to dominate the conversation or belittle your viewpoint.

The phrase “I understand how you feel, but I see things differently” accomplishes just that. It signifies empathy towards their feelings while simultaneously asserting your own perspective.

This approach allows for a healthy exchange of ideas without escalating into a heated argument. It sends a clear message that while their emotions are acknowledged, they don’t dictate the terms of the conversation or your stand on the matter.

5) “I need time to process this.”

In the heat of a charged conversation with a narcissist, it’s easy to get caught up and react impulsively. But it’s crucial to remember that it’s okay to take a step back and request time to process the information.

The phrase “I need time to process this” is a polite yet assertive way to put a pause in the conversation. It gives you the necessary breather to collect your thoughts, evaluate the situation objectively, and formulate a thoughtful response.

Using this phrase helps maintain your composure and prevents the conversation from escalating into an emotional confrontation. It also subtly communicates that you won’t be rushed or pressured into agreeing with their viewpoint.

6) “Let’s find a solution together.”

One of the most challenging aspects of dealing with a narcissist is the constant power struggle. They often want to dominate or control the conversation, disregarding others’ inputs or feelings.

But as confident people, we can turn this around by suggesting a collaborative approach. The phrase “Let’s find a solution together” is an invitation to cooperative problem-solving.

This phrase implies that you value their input, but it also insists on your active participation. It conveys a sense of unity and shared responsibility, disrupting their attempt to monopolize the conversation.

By suggesting a mutual solution, you’re emphasizing that your thoughts and feelings are equally significant in the conversation. It’s a heartfelt way to assert your stance without triggering a defensive response.

7) “I feel unheard when you interrupt me.”

In any conversation, being interrupted consistently can feel disrespectful and frustrating. This behavior is quite common in interactions with narcissists, who often prioritize their own thoughts and feelings over others.

There was a time when I found myself frequently interrupted by a friend during our conversations. Over time, I realized that this was affecting my self-esteem and making me feel unheard.

The phrase “I feel unheard when you interrupt me” was my way of expressing these feelings. It’s an effective way to communicate the impact of their behavior and assert your right to speak without directly accusing or criticizing them.

It’s essential to express your feelings honestly in such situations. 

8) “We seem to be going in circles.”

Repeated arguments or conversations that go nowhere are a common occurrence with narcissists. They often engage in circular conversations to confuse, control, or provoke the other person.

The phrase “We seem to be going in circles” is an effective way to address this issue. It draws attention to the fruitless nature of the conversation and suggests the need for a more constructive approach.

This phrase helps you maintain control over the conversation and discourages the narcissist from leading it into an exhausting and unproductive spiral. It’s a subtle reminder that you’re aware of their tactics and won’t be drawn into their game.

9) “I value our relationship, but I won’t tolerate disrespect.”

At the heart of every interaction, especially with a narcissist, is respect. It’s the foundation of any healthy conversation or relationship.

The phrase “I value our relationship, but I won’t tolerate disrespect” is the strongest assertion you can make. It clearly defines your boundaries and communicates your expectation of mutual respect.

Standing your ground and insist on the respect you deserve is the most important aspect of dealing with a narcissist or anyone who tries to undermine you.

Final thoughts: It’s all about respect

At the core of every interaction, especially in challenging situations like dealing with a narcissist, lies one fundamental principle – respect. This principle transcends the specifics of personality types and communication tactics.

The phrases we’ve discussed are not just tools to assert oneself but also a reflection of this respect. They emphasize mutual understanding, acknowledging different perspectives, maintaining boundaries, and demanding deserved respect.

As you navigate these interactions, may these phrases serve as anchors, reminding you of your worth and guiding you to communicate with confidence and dignity.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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