How To Argue With A Narcissist: 7 Ways To Beat Their Tricks

Do you always get tricked by a narcissist’s verbal traps? Learn how to argue with a narcissist, break their manipulative walls, and get the results you want.

Should you argue with a narcissist? No. As long as you can, avoid arguing with them.

Narcissists over-exaggerate how good they are and how great their life is. To prove their superiority, they will often turn normal conversations into arguments.

But if you know the right insights and strategies, you don’t have to give up your mental energy to defeat them.

3 Powers To Navigate Narcissistic Confrontations

Any argument with a narcissist quite often leaves you confused, frustrated, and emotionally drained.

To prevent that, you need three “powers” to navigate their argumentative shenanigans:

  1. The Power of Calmness and Composure: Be prepared to stay calm and composed when talking to a narcissist. Raising your voice in response to their high volume only adds fuel to the fire, giving them more control.
  2. The Power of Understanding Their Reality: Understand that narcissists live within a self-crafted reality designed to protect their low self-esteem. Let them be in their false reality. Your attempts to burst their bubble of distorted views will be likely futile and only serve to distract you from the main issue.
  3. The Power of Avoiding The Personal Attack Trap: Realize that narcissists can quickly wrestle you down into a dirty pit to uphold their skewed reality. Their arguments get deeply personal, fully meant to hurt you, your values, and your loved ones. They want you to get triggered into either attacking back or backing down.
how to argue with a narcissist
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels

How To Argue With A Narcissist: 7 Ways To Beat Their Tricks

Here are some practical strategies to beat the narcissist in arguments:

1. Keep Your Composure

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

Maintain your composure, speaking as you would do to soothe a child during a tantrum.

If the narcissist sees your frustration and finds you provoked to match their loudness, they may suddenly quiet down and walk off.

This sudden shift could unbalance and disorient you, leaving you to deal with your agitated state alone.

It could make you get into an argument with the next person you find, defending your perceptions.

2. Do Not Defend Or Explain

When arguing with a narcissist, hold back from wasting precious vitality on defending or elucidating your perspective.

There is a thing called Brandolini’s law, also known as the “Bulls**t Asymmetry Principle,” It says that it takes a lot more energy to disprove nonsense or misinformation than to produce it.

Applying it to an argument with a narcissist, you can defend your position for 2 hours, but they will still tell you it’s your fault in the end.

They cannot understand your arguments because they are not listening to you to understand.

They are too busy preserving their warped reality. And imposing their perspective on you (and others).

Despite the sting of the assault feeling acutely personal, remember that your objective is not to sway them toward your line of thinking.

Instead, the goal is to keep your dignity and safeguard your mental well-being.

3. Steer Clear of Old Arguments

Narcissists possess an uncanny knack for retaining and resurrecting past grievances, employing them as smokescreens to obscure the matter presently at stake.

If they try to dredge up old conflicts, curb the instinct to volley back with a similar tactic. Instead, channel your efforts to anchor the dialog in the here and now.

You could achieve this by conscientiously rerouting the conversation back to its original course, or by curtailing your participation in the escalating dispute.

In doing so, you establish a steady foothold in the present, disallowing the ghost of old disputes to derail the conversation.

It sends the message that past issues do not eclipse the matter at hand.

4. Know When To Step Away

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.

But storming out in anger may merely feed the narcissist’s sense of victory.

Instead, tell them calmly that it is futile to continue the argument in its present state, and step back from the situation with grace and poise.

This withdrawal is not a sign of surrender but an act of self-preservation.

By choosing your mental peace over a chaotic battle of arguments, you exert control over the situation.

It denies the narcissist the gratification of seeing you pushed to your breaking point.

You are giving yourself time and space to prepare for re-engagement.

Always leave with a firm but gentle disengagement. Rather than making an inflammatory statement like “You are always like this!”, leave it at “I have nothing else to say about it.” And stop the discussion.

5. Retain Your Reality & Avoid Being Swept Up

Narcissistic gaslighting only becomes effective when you start to question your own perception.

Keep a firm grip on your reality, and don’t let yourself be swayed. Stay strong with your, “I know what exactly happened.”

When they try to deny or belittle your experiences, don’t try to oppose or correct them.

Instead, recognize that you’re being gaslighted, and don’t allow them to pull you into their manipulation.

Narcissists habitually use deflection and ‘word salad’ to avoid talking about the real issue.

If they change the topic or bombard you with a lot of confusing declarations, calmly navigate the discussion back to its initial point.

This method might ruffle the narcissist’s feathers, but it sends a clear message that their tactics won’t veer you off your path.

6. Practice Being Unresponsive

Narcissists like disputes, and will frequently lure and trigger you to participate.

The best response is to react with indifference rather than arguing back. It may initially agitate them, but over time, it trains them into understanding that you have no interest in arguing with them.

By depriving them of this ‘narcissistic supply’, you’re blocking their habitual contentious tendencies, forcing them to seek a new avenue for releasing their frustrations.

This not only just redirects their attention, but also protects you from their destructive aftermath of silent treatment or more severe narcissistic abuse.

Lastly, your non-engagement sends a clear message that you will not fuel their need for conflict, and would rather prioritize your own peace and well-being.

7. Decide Wisely When to Engage

Finally, as we said in the beginning, avoid arguing with a narcissist for as long as you can.

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

Remember that not every battle is worth your energy, and you’ll be better for it.

Figure out which issues would be served better with your time and energy, and focus on them.

Keep in mind, arguing with a narcissist is often a waste of time and resources. They are stubborn and unwilling to agree even if you present them with a ton of supportive evidence.

Only choose those arguments of the highest importance, like your children’s well-being, work integrity, or money matters.

Understanding Narcissistic Behaviors In Arguments

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

This can make them argue nonstop, devalue others’ achievements, use strategic manipulation, and take a perverse delight in other peoples’ misfortunes.

They start with the idea of making you agree with them, even if it means demeaning you.

The narcissist’s argument playbook includes these tactics:

  • Blame-Shifting – Narcissists are skilled at ducking responsibility and shifting blame onto others. They skillfully deflect their own faults and actions, placing the weight of guilt onto your shoulders. This often leaves you feeling as if you are the problem-person.
  • Gaslighting – This involves manipulating your thoughts and feelings to the point of making you question your own reality. They employ phrases like “it’s all in your head” or “you’re making a big deal out of nothing,” to make you self-doubt and second-guess your perceptions and experiences.
  • Strawmanning – In this, the narcissist misrepresents your argument to make it easier to attack and refute. They create a ‘straw man’ version of your standpoint, which is typically a distorted or oversimplified version, and then argue against that, sidestepping the actual issue.
  • Stonewalling – Narcissists use various means to exert control. If an argument doesn’t align with their perspective, they may resort to stonewalling. In this, they refuse to cooperate or engage in the conversation. It’s a well-planned avoidance strategy that frustrates you, effectively ending the conversation without resolving the issue.
  • Narcissistic Silent Treatment – Often, when they cannot get total control over an argument with you, they may give you the silent treatment. In this, they don’t talk to you. But they may talk to others a lot while ignoring you even if you are present in the conversation. When you ask them anything, they will only respond with silence or short, monosyllabic words like “Yes,” “No,” or “OK.”
  • Narcissistic Word Salad – Narcissists often deploy a confusing style of communication called “word salad” (read more about it here). It is essentially a flurry of unrelated phrases and statements meant to confuse you.

Final Words

Engaging with a narcissist can be draining.

When you’re arguing with a narcissist, your goal should be less about winning and more about safeguarding your sanity and self-respect.

Keep these three key takeaways in mind:

  • only rarely engage in an argument with a narcissist,
  • maintain your mental peace and sense of reality,
  • know when to back out with grace.

• • •

Author Bio: Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy. His expertise is in mental well-being, positive psychology, narcissism, and Stoic philosophy.

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