9 phrases narcissists love to use, according to psychology

It’s estimated that up to 5% of people in the US may have a narcissistic personality disorder. 

While that might seem like a lot, consider how many people you know and interact with on a regular basis

If your office has 300 people, expert estimates suggest that up to fifteen of them will have a narcissistic personality disorder. 

If you interact with just 20 people a day (a low estimate I would for most, I’d say), you may be in contact with one narcissist per day. How many people were on the last group Zoom meeting you had?

The point is we all deal with narcissists more often than we probably think. 

And they are not the sort of people we want to hang out with. As noted by Cleveland Clinic, they often have an inflated sense of self-importance, believe they are better than us, lack empathy, and, perhaps worst of all, are willing to exploit others. 

Needless to say, knowing how to identify narcissists and how to deal with them is essential. 

Today, we help you do just that by getting into nine phrases they love using and giving you some tips on how to deal with them. 

1) “Why can’t you just get over it?”

This one is a stark indication of a lack of empathy typical of narcissists.

Saying it doesn’t just overlook someone’s emotional state; it actively dismisses the validity of their emotions.

It’s a clear sign that the speaker cannot or will not put themselves in the other person’s shoes, showing a troubling disconnect from the empathy that underpins meaningful human connections.

How to deal with this

When faced with “Why can’t you just get over it?” it’s important to remember your feelings are valid and deserve respect. 

A simple yet effective response could be, “We all heal in our own time. I appreciate your patience as I work through this.” 

This emphasizes the need for understanding without engaging in a deeper debate about the validity of your emotions. 

It’s always okay to ask for the respect and space you need.

2) “You just don’t get it.”

Often, narcissists will use this when they are questioned and don’t want to or can’t explain their views. 

As noted by the team at Psychology Today, “the pathological narcissist naturally views everyone else as inferior and may be intolerant of disagreement or questioning.”

With such phrases, they try to paint themselves as the sole bearer of truth, insinuating that any disagreement or lack of alignment with their viewpoint stems from your inability to comprehend the situation fully. 

How to deal with this

Facing this kind of dismissal requires a balanced approach that acknowledges the possibility of misunderstanding while also asserting your right to a valid perspective. 

You might respond with some questions like, “I’m trying to understand your point of view, and it would help if we could discuss this further. Can you explain why you feel that way?” 

This response opens the door for more in-depth communication, inviting clarification without conceding that your perspective lacks value or relevance.

It’s also essential to recognize that “You just don’t get it” is not a reflection of your ability to understand complex issues but rather a reflection of the other person’s reluctance to engage in meaningful conversation. 

3) “I already know that”

This one just reeks of arrogance, right?

I had a manager back when I was working in finance who would always say this. 

Anytime someone tried to share news or an update related to our industry, he’d quickly dismiss it with, “I already know that.” It always left me wondering if he truly did or if it was just his way of maintaining an authoritative facade.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter if he knew it or not. 

The point is this stance closes the door to potential learning but also exudes an air of arrogance, suggesting that the speaker sees themselves as the ultimate authority on the subject. 

It’s a subtle way of undermining others’ contributions, positioning their own knowledge as both infallible and comprehensive.

How to deal with this

Again, asking probing or follow-up questions can be an effective strategy. You could say something simple: “Oh great, what are your thoughts on it?”

It encourages the individual to elaborate, demonstrating your interest in their knowledge while subtly challenging them to prove their understanding. 

4) “You always take things so personally.”

Have you ever been told, “You always take things so personally,” in the heat of a disagreement? 

It stings, right?

As noted by psychologist Dr. Daniel S. Lobel, this kind of behavior is common in those who have narcissistic personality disorders. 

Basically, when a narcissist says this, what they’re really doing is shifting the blame from their actions to your reaction. 

It’s a clever way of evading responsibility and portraying you as overly sensitive or emotionally fragile. What’s the underlying message? 

The problem isn’t what they said or did; it’s your response to it.

How to deal with this

Dr. Lobel, in a Psychology Today Post, suggested a few strategies for dealing with such manipulative tactics:

  • Confront them: Confrontation doesn’t mean escalation. Approach the situation with calm assertiveness, making it clear that you recognize the manipulation at play and that it won’t stand. It’s about setting boundaries, not starting a battle.
  • Don’t take it personally: It’s vital to remember that this tactic reflects more about the narcissist’s character than your own. Their attempt to make you doubt your feelings is a testament to their manipulative tendencies, not your sensitivity.
  • Focus on the event, not the person’s character: When addressing the issue, pinpoint the specific behavior or incident that triggered your response rather than labeling or attacking the person. This approach minimizes defensiveness and keeps the conversation grounded in facts, not personal attacks.

5) “If you cared about me, you would…”

This sort of guilt-tripping is a weaponized form of emotional blackmail that narcissists use to exploit our good nature. 

As noted by clinical psychologist Dr. Mark Zaslavk, narcissists do this in close relationships. He stated in a Psychology Today post, “If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, attempts to assert your own needs or values may trigger complaints or accusations calculated to play on your sense of guilt.”

It erodes the very essence of a healthy relationship, which should ideally be anchored in mutual respect, empathy, and genuine understanding. 

How to deal with this

Resist the urge to resort to such conditional statements, particularly in moments of frustration or disappointment. 

It’s important to maintain clear boundaries and communicate openly about your feelings without succumbing to guilt. Reinforce your stance with calm and assertive responses that reflect your values and respect for both your own needs and those of others. 

6) “Must be nice to have it so easy.”

A few years back, a colleague said these words during a discussion about work-life balance. It was casual and slightly humorous, but it was clear that the remark was more than just an offhand observation. 

Have you experienced something similar?

These kinds of comments are typical of narcissists who often believe they have it hard while everyone else’s life is rosy.

Remarks like this hint at resentment, suggesting that any success or ease we might be experiencing is unearned or came at no personal cost.

This statement reflects discomfort with and envy of others’ achievements or happiness, insinuating that their gains are the result of luck or privilege rather than hard work and dedication. 

How to deal with this 

Confronted with such envy-tinged remarks, it’s important to respond with empathy rather than defensiveness. 

A constructive reply might be, “I understand it might seem that way, but we all face our own set of challenges.” This response acknowledges their feelings without feeding into the negativity, promoting a sense of mutual understanding and support.

7) “That’s not how it happened”

Picture this: you’re sharing your feelings about a past event, only for someone to say, “That’s not how it happened, or “That’s not how I remember things.” 

With narcissists, this often isn’t just a simple disagreement over memories. As noted by WebMD, “Narcissists like to have control and often fear losing it.”. In order to gain or keep control, they often employ manipulative tactics like this. 

This technique, often called gaslighting, aims to make you question the reliability of your own memory, subtly suggesting that your recollection and, consequently, your feelings about the event are flawed.

How to deal with this

Consider keeping a detailed record of interactions. These records act as a concrete reminder of your experiences, bolstering your confidence in your recollection and providing a clear point of reference to counteract any gaslighting attempts.

And in the face of “That’s not how I remember things,” it’s essential to stand firm in your truth. 

Your experiences and feelings are valid, and having a factual basis to support your recollections can make all the difference in navigating these challenging interactions.

The bottom line 

That just about wraps it up for me today, folks. 

We all have to deal with narcissists, and identifying them is our first line of defense. Watching out for phrases like the ones above can help you to do so. 

As always, I hope you found some value in this post. 

Until next time.

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business.

As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys.

In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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