8 Smart Tips To Argue With A Narcissist And Win

— Reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy.

Do you always get tricked by a narcissist’s verbal traps? But don’t know how to tear apart their devious methods while keeping your peace?

First: Should you argue with a narcissist? No — avoid arguing with them as long as you can.

But if you are drawn into an argument with them, you must know their strategies before they swamp you with their word salad and wordplay.

For one, they believe they are the perfect ones who never do wrong. So, if you point out their mistake, they can turn it into a tiring argument until you admit that they are right and better than you.

I suggest you memorize the tips and tricks in this post so you don’t spend time and energy arguing with them and always leave defeated.

8 Smart Tips To Argue With A Narcissist And Beat Their Tricks

Here are some practical strategies to win against the narcissist in arguments:

1. Stay Calm And Collected

The roar of the narcissist might provoke an uproar, but you keep calm and collected.

  • Narcissists know how to provoke strong emotions.
  • If you stay calm and steady, it can throw them off balance.
  • Think of it like dealing with a child having a tantrum — stay composed.

This is why you must keep your cool when arguing with a narcissist:

If you get louder than them, they see your frustration and understand they have triggered you just as they wanted to.

They will suddenly quiet down and walk away. This is their silent treatment — a way of punishing you by avoiding eye contact and not talking.

Silent treatment is meant to make you feel canceled, disowned, and powerless. It dents your sense of self-worth, making you feel like your presence is irrelevant (Williams & Shore, 1998).

This sudden shift could leave you feeling disoriented and agitated. You could offload your frustration onto the next person to defend your views.

2. Don’t Defend or Explain Yourself

This tip might seem counterintuitive, but it’s important. Here’s the reason:

  • There’s something called “Brandolini’s law” or the “Bullsh*t Asymmetry Principle.”
  • It means it takes much more energy to disprove nonsense than to create it.
  • Narcissists often aren’t listening to understand — they’re trying to impose their view.

So, save your energy. Your goal isn’t to change their mind, but to protect your own well-being.

Brandolini’s law: “The amount of energy needed to refute BS is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”

So, you can defend your position with a narcissist for 2 hours, but they will still say it’s your fault in the end.

They don’t listen to empathize. They listen to prepare their counterpoints based on their weird way of seeing things.

Why spend your energy disproving nonsense that they produced with zero effort?

Do not let them sway you, even if it feels too personal. Instead, keep your dignity, peace, and sanity.

3. Steer Clear of Old Arguments

Narcissists possess an uncanny knack for retaining and resurrecting past issues to distract from the current topic.

Here’s how to handle this:

  • If they dredge up old conflicts, curb your impulse to volley back with a similar tactic.
  • Gently steer the conversation back to the current topic. Stay focused on the present issue.
  • You might say something like, “Let’s focus on solving today’s problem.”

It sends the message that past issues do not eclipse the present matter. You would rather keep the conversation topical and not let old issues take over.

how to argue with a narcissist
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels

4. Know When To Walk Away

Sometimes, the best strategy is to end the conversation:

  • If the argument is going in circles, it’s okay to leave.
  • You might say, “I don’t think this conversation is productive right now. Let’s talk later.”
  • Take care of your own mental health first.

Remember, you can’t control their behavior, but you can control your response.

5. Set Your Boundaries

Always set and maintain boundaries with a narcissist. Boundaries tell you when to step away from their nonsense.

  • Decide what behavior you will and won’t accept.
  • Clearly communicate these boundaries.
  • Be consistent in enforcing them.

As the argument begins to intensify, you sense that it has started to lose its purpose. That is the time to calmly get out of the brewing mess.

Do not inflame them with statements like, “You are always like this!”

Say something like, “I’m happy to discuss this when we’re both calm. If voices are raised, I’ll end the conversation.”

Choosing calm over a heated argument, you take charge of the situation. It denies the narcissist the gratification of seeing you pushed to your breaking point.

Tell them calmly you cannot continue the argument, and step away with grace and poise.

It is not a sign of surrender but an act of self-preservation. You are giving yourself time and space to prepare for re-engagement.

6. Retain Your Reality

When the narcissist tries to gaslight you with “You saw it wrong,” “You are overreacting,” or “You’re always trying to put me down,” don’t oppose or correct them.

Let them deny and minimize your version. You keep a firm grip on your reality, and maintain, “I know what exactly happened.” Send a clear message that you are sticking to your version of events.

Narcissists habitually change the topic, bombard you with confusing rants, and use ‘word salad’ to skirt the real issue. If they do, calmly return the discussion to its original point.

7. Use the “Gray Rock” Method

Narcissists like disputes, and will frequently lure and trigger you to participate. The best response is to react with indifference.

This is called the “Gray Rock” technique:

  • Be as uninteresting and unresponsive as possible.
  • Keep your answers short and unemotional.
  • Don’t share personal information or opinions.

It can make the narcissist lose interest in arguing with you. Over time, it trains them to realize that you will not react more than a piece of rock would.

Gray rocking also protects you from the effects of silent treatment or more severe narcissistic abuse.

8. Practice Empathy (But Don’t Excuse Bad Behavior)

Every battle is not worth your energy, and it’s not your job to fix a narcissist.

  • Narcissism often stems from deep insecurity.
  • Recognizing that their behavior comes from their own issues can help you stay calm.
  • However, understanding their hurt doesn’t mean accepting their abusive behavior.

As I said in the beginning, avoid arguing with a narcissist for as long as you can. Pick arguments that really matter, like your kids’ well-being, work ethics, or money matters.

“Sometimes, your smartest battles are those that you left unfought.”

— Anon

How Narcissists Argue

Narcissists are obsessed with winning any conversation, even if it means hurting the other person.

  • They may start by making you agree with them, then shift the blame onto you or others, and then gaslight you into doubting your original point.
  • They can argue for hours, minimize your achievements, and drag in your past failures and mishaps — to off-track the conversation and avoid taking responsibility.
  • Strawmanning is yet another of their verbal shenanigans. They make an oversimplified, ‘straw man’ version of your stand, and then argue against that, sidestepping the actual issue.
  • They can also give the silent treatment or use a confusing “word salad” style of communication to frustrate and control the discussion.

3 Powers To Deal With An Argumentative Narcissist

Arguments with a narcissist leave you confused, frustrated, and emotionally drained. To prevent that, you need three “powers”:

  1. Power of Calmness and Composure: Narcissists will trigger you to lose control, so mentally prepare to stay calm before talking to them. Raising your voice or emotions will give them a reason to label you insane or hysterical. Stay level-headed.
  2. Power of Tolerating Their Reality: Narcissists operate within a self-created reality bubble to protect their fragile ego. Recognize that trying to burst that bubble will likely make them react in aggressive ways and throw off the main issue. Let them be in their false reality.
  3. Power of Avoiding The Personal Attack Trap: They make the argument deeply personal, attacking your values, character, and loved ones. The goal is to trigger you into either fighting back or backing down. Realize that and avoid stepping into this personal attack trap.

Final Words

Engaging with a narcissist can be draining. Your goal should be to protect your sanity, peace, and self-respect.

The key is to not get drawn into their game of control and trickery. Keep calm, know what they are trying to do, and don’t get upset by their personalized attacks.

If you keep your composure when they are trying to provoke you, you will have already won half the game.

• • •

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When it comes to mental well-being, you don't have to do it alone. Going to therapy to feel better is a positive choice. Therapists can help you work through your trauma triggers and emotional patterns.