Narcissists are absolutely impossible to deal with – let alone to argue with. Similarly to everything that they do, the way narcissists argue is driven by their never-ending need for narcissistic supply. These are some of the narcissist favorite things to do and say when arguing. If you find yourself in any of the below situations, try your best to ignore them, keep your emotions leveled, and disengage so that the situation does not escalate and so that you can walk away from it all feeling better than how felt when you entered it.
Arguing in bad faith.
Narcissists always love to do what we call “arguing in bad faith.” This type of argument technique is characterized by the narcissist comprehending everything that you are saying but then acting as if you’re trying to say something else. They deliberately twist your words and misunderstand you. Another way they do this is by bringing up a completely unrelated topic in response to you. One of their favorite ways of doing this is by not responding to what it is that you said but to your supposed tone. This way they don’t have to address what you’re saying, they can just deflect blame back on to you. Narcissists love to bring up tone and use it to play the victim and escape conversations or situations that they do not want to be a part of. These are all examples of a narcissist arguing in bad faith.
Arguments with narcissists almost always include word salad. Word salad is referring to when narcissists deliberately speak in a way that makes no rational sense. Sometimes it is obvious how much nonsense is involved and other times the word salad is more discreet and you find yourself wondering why it’s so hard to communicate with them. This is their way of intentionally confusing you, frustrating you, and controlling the conversation. You cannot respond rationally to word salad or nonsense which is exactly what they want. They want to stump you. You don’t know what the heck it is that they’re talking about and so when your response doesn’t make sense (because how could it), they will use it against you. This is also a subtle form of gaslighting.
Provoking, Bullying, or Intimidating.
All narcissists devalue others. In arguments, the devaluing occurs but usually through provocation, bullying, or intimidation. Whether or not something is done or stated aggressively, narcissists will use the opportunity to make the other person feel negatively about his or her self so that they feel superior and in control. Some narcissists may get loud and violent during arguments while others might say calmly threaten you to be careful. When any of the above occurs, your emotions will be triggered and likely exaggerated. This is what the narcissist wants. They want to have control over you, your feelings, and your behaviors. This gives them narcissistic supply.
Deflecting and Denying.
Deflection and deny are common ways narcissists respond to conflict. If confronted, they will nearly always deflect and/or deny. They act as if you are the crazy one or that somebody else is at fault. Whatever it is has nothing to do with them and/or it has everything to do with you. It’s best to stay calm when met with deflection or denial and stay separated from the feelings that these things arise within you.