Narcissists are lost in their own shallow world.
It’s a world in which they are all that matters, which makes arguing with them extremely frustrating and repetitive.
Thankfully there are some ways to shut down narcissists fast and leave them spinning.
Here are the 20 best phrases to shut down a narcissist during an argument.
1) “You’re right.”
This is the last thing a narcissist expects to hear when he or she is arguing.
It will throw them off just because of how counterintuitive it is.
The message is clear: you don’t want to argue or discuss any further with them.
You’re dropping this like a hot potato.
You don’t have to mean it, just say it and search for the nearest exit.
2) “I’m on your side.”
Next up is another counterintuitive doozie.
This one is great because it reminds the narcissist that you’re not part of their maniacal persecution complex.
Narcissists thrive on believing in a me vs. the world framework. When you break that you throw them way off balance.
You’re on their side, you may even like or love them.
You’re not against them, and whatever conflict they’re trying to dredge up has no interest for you.
3) “I’m not going to argue with you.”
This is another of the great phrases to shut down a narcissist during an argument.
But there’s a crucial caveat here:
You have to actually mean it.
Far too many people use this line and then start to argue even more.
If you say you’re not going to argue then don’t.
Disengage. Break away. Leave.
4) “Thanks for bringing that to my attention.”
The key to shutting down a narcissist is to refuse to play the role they want you to play.
They want you emotional, hurt, angry, sad, engaged.
You therefore want to be very businesslike and not take it personally or even respond much at all.
This statement is the perfect way to keep things emotionless.
5) “I see.”
There’s nothing quite as neutral as “I see.”
This makes it clear that you don’t care to continue the argument and aren’t into it.
The narcissist has a need to be proven right and “win.”
By saying something like “I see” you take away all the pleasure of any win.
6) “I hear you.”
This is another very neutral way to phrase it.
By saying simply “I hear you,” you make it clear that you’re not interested in contributing to the discussion and argument.
When you show that you don’t really care about winning this argument you absolutely take the wind out of the narcissist’s sails.
7) “I understand.”
This is another way to take away the joy of winning from the narcissist.
The narcissist thrives on a persecution complex of believing only they truly get it and are smart and worthy.
“Why doesn’t anybody ever listen to me!” is a typical narcissist’s lament.
When you say you understand and even show that you do understand what they’re saying it deflates them massively.
Keep in mind: you don’t have to say you agree necessarily (although pretending to agree can work as previously noted).
You’re just noting that you do hear what they’re saying.
8) “I’ll get back to you.”
This is the equivalent of hitting the pause button.
You’re letting the narcissist know that you’re not ignoring them but that you also can’t get into this right now.
This does two things:
It promises future attention (which is the narcissist’s drug of choice);
While also making them wait for that attention (which makes the narcissist likely to play nicer in hopes of getting their fix).
9) “Let me think about it.”
This is similar to the last tactic.
You promise future attention but you won’t give it right now.
The narcissist is now torn between continuing their diatribe or waiting until a better time when you’ll be more accessible and vulnerable.
That time won’t come.
But by giving them hope it will happen, you can often escape the current nonsense.
10) “Yes, and…”
This is a classic suggestive prompt.
You indicate agreement or acceptance of what’s been said and then add in something that may or may not actually agree.
The danger here is that you are somewhat engaging with the narcissist.
The upside is that the narcissist is so lost in his or her own world that often hearing “yes” acts as a kind of catnip they can’t resist.
They may become convinced you basically agree and start letting their fanaticism fade away a bit.
This is another one of those very neutral and non-committal statements you can make when arguing with a narcissist.
It can be both sincere or sarcastic, and they have almost no way to know.
When you say this it means that you aren’t buying into this conflict and you’re not giving any fuel to the fire.
12) “Okey doke.”
This is another of those very passive and non-committal statements.
It confuses the narcissist to hear something very trivial like this after they are used to getting in very emotional and serious arguments.
When you just kind of trivially laugh it off and say something like “okey doke,” they don’t know how to respond.
They’re likely to find themselves both annoyed and stumped.
How do you fight with somebody who doesn’t want to fight?
13) “Thanks for your thoughts, but I have to run.”
This is another way to say you don’t care and you’re leaving.
You refuse to engage and leave.
You make it outwardly polite but you emphasize the point that you’re not interested in continuing this and you’re heading on.
Sometimes it really is that simple.
14) “No thanks.”
Now we move a bit into the more confrontational but still emotionless responses.
Saying “no thanks” is one way to defuse the narcissist.
It’s polite but also dismissive.
You’re letting them know that you’re just not interested in whatever they’re talking about.
Even if they asked a question or what do you think you’re doing or some kind of accusation, you can just say “no thanks” and move on.
As Tamie Joyce explains in this informative video, the narcissist craves a fight and when you don’t give it to them they get very confused and deflated.
15) “Don’t tell me what I feel.”
This is another of the most effective phrases to shut down a narcissist during an argument.
Narcissists thrive on gaslighting and telling you what you’re “allowed” to feel, think or do.
When you tell them to stop doing this, they get very confused.
They thrive on believing they know what everyone else feels or should feel.
Reminding the narcissist that more than one person exists in this universe is like a jolt of electroshock therapy to their soul.
16) “I need you to help out more.”
The narcissist wants the world and other people to serve him or her.
They want all the attention, all the intimacy, all the money, all the favors.
When they are arguing with you, it’s almost always because they believe you aren’t giving them what they deserve whether that’s your time, love, attention or a favor they believe you owe them.
When you demand that they help you out more it throws them for a complete loop.
They generally prefer to exit the conversation than risk staying in a scenario where they might be talked into helping you out.
17) “I need to talk to you. I have a serious problem.”
The same goes for saying this:
When you bring up your problems or situation the narcissist loses interest faster than a deflating tire loses air.
They can’t get away soon enough when they hear about your problem.
They want no part of it.
You’re supposed to be serving them and listening to them, at least in their reality.
As soon as you mention a serious issue you have they’re likely to head for the hills.
18) “Do you hear yourself?”
This can sometimes be an effective thing to say to a narcissist to shut them down.
Turning the mirror on them and making them realize how ridiculous their behavior is serves many purposes.
For one thing it makes them have a split-second of self-consciousness and realize “hey, maybe I actually am a bit out of line here.”
For another thing it makes the narcissist realize that you’re actually listening to them and picking through what they’re saying and finding it ridiculous.
This can also cause them a split second of valuable self-consciousness before they recommence gaslighting and being ridiculous.
Silence is perhaps the most powerful response of all.
It often says so much more than words and arguing.
You have to become comfortable with awkward silence around a narcissist.
Let them talk and screech into the void and just stand there.
Say “no” and then just wait. Let the silence talk.
20) Walk away and block them everywhere
Lastly, sometimes walking away is the most effective response to a narcissist.
You let them know you don’t want to interact anymore and you block them everywhere.
You walk away and you leave them to their own devices.
You block them all over and do your best to move on, remembering your own value and setting your own standards.
Life’s too short to waste on narcissists
At the end of the day, narcissists aren’t worth arguing with.
They will just drag you into the stifling orbit of their self-absorption and self-obsession.
There’s nothing you can gain from arguing with a narcissist and plenty of time, energy and self-respect you can lose.
Use the phrases above to help yourself out if you find yourself arguing with a narcissist: you’ll be glad you did.