If you have ever had a conversation with a person who has narcissistic traits, you may have noticed something beyond the "it's all about me" soliloquy.
They talk in circles.
A N-type won't allow for direct communication because a) it's threatening and b) they lose their (false) sense of control. Both of those things can create vague but powerful feelings of impending annihilation.
A non-N-type is able to hear another person's opinion, even if it differs from their own. They are able to "walk a mile in your shoes" and explore your perspective. The N-type is unable or perhaps strongly unwilling to do this because they are too busy protecting a fragile ego.
Besides, acknowledging another's point of view might mean they are -gasp!- wrong about something. And being wrong about something in the N-type's mind equals being bad as a person. And avoiding any potential badness at all costs is the very basis of narcissism.
And now we see the underlying reason for talking in circles... the very illness (or complex coping strategy) is itself a circle. Or a spiral. Or a vortex.
When you find yourself getting sucked into this communication style..
1) Pause and reflect. Be an observer of the circular reasoning. Realize that the N-type is using an ineffective communication style (probably because of their own emotional trigger). You don't have to jump on their merry-go-round.
2) Do not take it personally. Their confusing communication style is not a reflection of you or your value. They are merely demonstrating a lack of emotional maturity and/or an inability to effectively serve-and-return (albeit probably not entirely their fault). You don't have to own some one else's issue.
3) Use summary statements. Instead of putting yourself on the spin cycle, reflect their reasoning back to them with an attitude of "I'm sincerely trying to understand the message you are sending."
4) Be willing to postpone the conversation. Your calm and reflective manner may bring their inconsistency or flaw to light (you might even notice they are getting confused or flustered). This may escalate their emotional state. It is common for aggressive speech, threats, and/or insults to follow. Be okay with walking away from that. Tell the N-type that you do not allow people to speak to you in that manner, but you are willing to resume the conversation when everyone is calm.
5) And finally, be aware that this scenario may be repeated in a variety of settings. Over and over. Your gentle yet firm and always consistent response may (I say may) provide an opportunity for the N-type to learn and practice a new communication skill.
Stay true to yourself my friends, - M
If you found this information helpful, there's more! Subscribe to my therapy vlog at Can We Talk? or find me @TweetmentPlan. And, of course, come visit me here again soon! :)
Photo credit: pixabay
Watch Baby Steps for Setting Boundaries with a Narcissist.
The Motley Ms.
Hi! My name is Melinda. I'm a saved-by-grace-er, lifelong learner, INFJ, health & fitness trynabe, Mom, #vanlifer, mental health vlogger, and Director & Clinical Supervisor at a Child & Family Therapy Practice in Northern California.
The Motley Ms
The Therapist's Therapy Blog