We have all been told on a regular basis that we should respect everyone. The things that these great purveyors of broad over generalised statements forgot to add are:
- If someone behaves badly towards you, showing “respect” for that person only encourages them and gives them permission to do it again. In fact it is very unwise.
- If you are dealing with a narcissist respect can only come in the form of not doing them harm. It is imperative that you protect yourself from them. So, if you are insulted or verbally attacked by a narcissist, you do not need to get all introspective and wonder if “they have a point”. A narcissist can say anything and may very well say two polar opposites with in a very short space of time. Showing respect for yourself, and to what you know, means that you do not need to follow up all of the crazy notions of the narcissist. Hold on to what you know about yourself and your own experiences, you do not need to listen to them, nor do you need to defend your position or attack them back. That is as far as respect can go with a narcissist, otherwise they will hurt you.
- When you are communicating with a narcissist their words, body language, tone and facial expressions may well all contradict each other. Some people have “bad” body language (inconsistent with what they are saying), so it is easier to follow what they say rather than to try to interpret confused physical signals. This is not a good idea with narcissists. There is absolutely no stability in what a narcissist says, and as such, should not be taken seriously.
- Respect is earned when people take responsibility and are accountable for what they say and do, narcissists do not. The highest and safest form of respect that you can offer them is to resist the temptation to harm them back. If a toddler was rude to you, you would not try to punish him/her, and so it is with narcissists. It is confusing because they are in an adult body, but that is where they are emotionally and developmentally.
- A narcissist will defend their rudeness and abuse by saying that “YOU earn respect you cannot demand it”, it is just their pathetic excuse for defending their abhorrent behaviour.