How to identify and deal with a narcissist

Narcissists can be extremely difficult to deal with. They are unable to genuinely look at the world outside of themselves as their worlds are purely internal. They generally have a complete inability to see or care about how their behaviour impacts those around them.

Dealing with a narcissist can be frustrating, as well as possibly detrimental to your mental and emotional well-being. There are, however, a few basic practices that you can apply in order to deal with them in any context – whether it’s in the workplace, your family, or your group of friends.

How to identify a narcissist 

Narcissists have a high sense of grandiosity – believing that they are more important than others, and they frequently crave praise and adulation. They appear to have high levels of self-esteem, self-importance and self-confidence; at least on the surface, because these characteristics can sometimes be used to mask feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem.

Arrogance, taking advantage of others to get what they want, the belief that they are special or unique, constant exaggeration of achievements and talents, the need for constant admiration, extreme envy of others, lack of empathy, obsession with fantasies of power and success, and an extreme sense of entitlement are all red flags to watch out for.

How to deal with a narcissist

It’s important to educate yourself in order to have a better understanding of a narcissist’s strengths and weaknesses. This will also help you to have realistic expectations, to accept the situation for what it is and to gain an understanding that you don’t have the power to change them.

In any sort of relationship with a narcissist, it is vital to have boundaries. Be clear about your boundaries and don’t take on their feelings of disappointment as those feelings are not your responsibility. Ideally, it’s best to watch your words and not to react to actions that purposely try to goad you into an argument. The less attention they get from you, the less likely they will attempt to feed off of you. 

Efforts to help or lead a narcissist will often fail, as they like to have control. It’s best to accept that they are not likely to ever see things from your point of view. Try to keep communication with narcissists at a very shallow and polite level as they have very little empathy. Deep conversations are only likely to produce an angry outburst or a shutdown response. 

As painful as this may be, especially when the narcissist in your life is a family member or loved one, you ultimately need to accept that you will never be able to bring up past issues with them. This will only anger them and give them an opportunity to gaslight you. 

Keep in mind that people with narcissistic personality disorder rarely change. Even if you improve your relationship management skills, it will almost certainly never be a healthy relationship.

Narcissists struggle to hold long-term relationships because of their focus on themselves. Working for narcissistic employers can also be equally challenging. These tips should help you to deal with selfish people and protect your own emotional wellbeing at the same time.


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Written by Taryn Hill

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