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How to Communicate with a Narcissist

When you communicate with a narcissist, it’s not always easy to tell if you’re being lied to, but they are lying—compulsively. Narcissistic personality disorder is defined as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.”

As the world shifts from a tactile lifestyle to a more virtual and individualistic one, being able to recognize traits of narcissistic personality disorder is important when human interaction is limited as a new reality of modern-day society.

It’s necessary to understand that people with narcissistic personality disorder perceive the world through a lens that is excessively self-involved and they crave copious attention and praise. People who have this condition typically have a low capacity for showing empathy. As a result, strained relationships with friends and family develop due to their controlling and manipulative nature.

Due to these factors, nearly all cases of people with NPD tend to be depressed or unhappy because of deficient attention and praise. For that reason, mental health therapy is an excellent option for them to consider.

How To Communicate With a Narcissist

Communicating with a narcissist isn’t easy. It requires an understanding of exactly what you’re up against. You’re likely to encounter one or more of the following narcissist tendencies:

Excessive Control of Conversation Time

Due to the self-natured aspects of a narcissist, any conversation will be dominated by them throughout various interactions with them.

Throughout your conversation with them, even if you are able to make your point clear, what you say will be disregarded in favor of their opinion or feelings.

Dominating Topics of Conversation

Due to the self-centered nature of narcissistic personality disorder, the amount of time they take up in a conversation correlates with their domination of the topic of conversation. They focus on:

  • What they want to talk about
  • The mood and manner in which they speak
  • Conversing with little regard as to outside views or points

When you communicate with a narcissist, it may appear as if they’ve been listening. In fact, they may acknowledge an outside perspective. However, the subject may simply be directed back to how they wish the conversation to proceed.

Frequently Interrupting Others

No matter the medium in which they communicate, a narcissist tends to be very open about how they wish to project their view. They will not be shy or cautious to interrupt you. By interjecting, they wish to direct the focus of the conversation back to them.

By forcefully bringing the attention back onto them, they assume domination in the social interaction and act as if correcting, judging, minimizing, or invalidating your position as a result of a false sense of their own entitlement.

Apathetic Listening

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. It’s crucial for developing relationships throughout life, requiring us to consider another’s perspective beyond our own. Empathy drives voluntary support rather than coercion.

Building an empathetic relationship allows emotional availability when needed. However, a narcissistic person may become irritated by shifts in your priorities. Consequently, they struggle to form healthy, genuine relationships.

Dignifying Material Wealth or Self

Despite the various communication methods available, narcissistic individuals on the web and social media remain unchanged. They assert their false sense of superiority by bragging about material wealth, often appearing humble from an outside perspective. They frequently exaggerate their achievements to make others envious and present a theatrical drama in their lives.

Their relationships are seen as possessions, reflecting their narcissistic characteristics. Beneath their boasting lies deep-seated insecurity and fear, stemming from fragile self-esteem and compensating behavior due to emptiness.

A False Superiority Complex

Without much thought, it’s easy to assume that narcissists can be highly toxic due to their intense conceitedness. The false superiority complex develops from an inflated ego, often leading them to view others as inferior.

Consequently, these individuals often face the worst aspects of narcissistic communication. To compensate for their deep inadequacy, narcissists frequently put others down, seeking temporary fulfillment to sustain their egos.

Overly Conceited and Unwelcome Advice

The side effects of a superiority complex often include the belief that a person is better in every single way. To feed the importance of their self-image, they claim to provide the best advice. Often this advice is facetious, and rarely asked for by another person.


People with narcissistic personality disorder are often manipulative, which can be highly destructive. Their manipulative communication takes two forms: positive reinforcement with empty promises and flattery, and negative reinforcement with blame-shifting, criticism, and deception.

They typically play the victim, bait others into admitting guilt, and seek to abuse or take advantage of people. Narcissists view others as mere extensions of themselves and exploit anyone who can be useful to them.

How Mental Health Therapy Can Help a Narcissist

It’s difficult to communicate with a narcissist. However, help is available to improve the situation. At Harmony, we specialize in treating individuals struggling with a narcissistic personality disorder. Our team of experienced mental health professionals understands how difficult it can be to communicate and interact with a narcissist.

Through individual therapy, group therapy, and other evidence-based treatment modalities, we can help a narcissist learn healthy communication skills and improve their relationships with those around them. Additionally, we also address any underlying mental health issues that may contribute to narcissistic behavior, such as depression or anxiety.

Help someone get the help they need at Harmony. For new clients, please click here to schedule an appointment. For existing clients, please click here and find your office location to contact your office directly.