When a narcissist feels threatened or confused by something they will go in to a mode of speaking absolute gibberish. This is a defence mechanism and is designed not to make sense. You will spend all of your energy trying to work out what they are trying to say rather than getting involved in a solution based conversation. People refer to it as “word salad”, it essentially means that everything is tossed up together and they aren’t making any sense at all. If you find yourself trying to converse with someone who is using this tool of confusion the only thing that you can do is to disengage and walk away. You cannot make someone make sense if they are determined not to.
When a narcissist is spewing these diatribes at you, do not try to help them make sense or take what they say seriously in anyway, it is a tool to block you and the only solution is walk away. Their “arguments” will mix up past, present and future, will refer to things that you are not talking about, will be full of hateful name calling and blame and will often be fuelled by narcissistic rage.
If the argument is not perceived as an imminent threat by the narcissist and is just a topic that they don’t want to discuss, there are other techniques that they will employ. Such as:
- Not letting the conversation go in any constructive direction. They will talk around and around in circles. You think that you have go somewhere with them and they will bring the discussion right back to the starting point. Remember narcissists take themselves very seriously and they expect you to too. So if you pull them up on the fact that they are repeating what they said 5 minutes ago, they will just get angry and up the game. The only thing that you can do in this situation is to play dumb and say “I don’t understand, can you expand on that”, but that only works in the short term as they will be quite happy to have the same conversation an hour later. They are revisionists, in their mind the conversation never happened unless it has had the outcome that they are looking for.
- If you have the audacity to point out something nasty that they have done, they will go into time travel mode and bring some wrong doing that you did (or that they perceive that you did) years ago or point out something trivial like the fact that you leave the lid off the toothpaste. It is all distraction from the main issue. Narcissists don’t make mistakes, everyone else does, so if you point out a wrong doing you will just get rage, sneering or a false (how could you be so ridiculous) laugh in return.
- Because narcissists see themselves as “better” than everyone else they will very often talk at you as though you are stupid and incapable of understanding the content of what they are saying. They do this by using a very condescending voice and looking at you with an “oh dear” pity face. The whole point of this is to make you feel uncomfortable and to back off. When you do they will consider it a score in the game that they are playing in their head (with a massive audience cheering from the side line). You may be tempted to try to drive you point home, it is useless because if they don’t like it, it just never happened in their mind.
- Narcissists are masters in the art of projection, so they will frequently accuse you of doing or being what they are. So they could accuse you of being lazy, distant or dishonest, which are all hallmarks of narcissists. An empathic person will introspect and wonder if that is really true. Not so with a narcissist, they have “decided” who they are and that is that (although it can change on an hourly basis). Should they get even the slightest inkling that you may not believe their false persona, they will instantly project onto someone else. The narcissist will have many false personas so you will never really know who is going to turn up and when. They know what they are doing, it is all part of the game that they play.
- A narcissist will use very strong language when talking to you. They will call you names, use explosive language when they are angry, tell lies with absolute conviction and certainty, they will order you to do things, they will “get” people to do things rather than ask. For all this bluster and guff, they are extremely sensitive to even the slightest hint of criticism of them and will react with rage, the silent treatment or by sulking.
- The narcissist is always the victim, no matter how badly they behave, it is always someone else’s fault. They show absolutely no remorse at any time for any of their terrible behaviour. They will say things like “he made me do it”, or “I had to because”. The word “sorry” occasionally creeps out of a narcissist’s mouth but only when they are cornered and it is never sincere. They might promise to change – but it never happens.
- With a narcissist you will often find yourself explaining to them why their behaviour was hurtful. This is a key tell-tale sign, no adult should have to have the effect of their own behaviour explained to them. It is hard to know why you have to do this when they are so hyper sensitive to being “wounded” themselves. This is because they are incapable of introspection and take no responsibility for their own actions. There is no censor on their behaviour or words, they can do whatever they like, everyone else has to watch themselves so as not to upset the narcissist.
- A narcissist knows how to be kind and good but they find it boring. They are on a perpetual search for excitement and drama and will create it where ever they can. You can try to explain to them about basic human emotions and why they shouldn’t spread nasty rumours about people and lie to get reaction, but they don’t care who they hurt or what damage they do because being kind just isn’t entertaining enough for them.
- You might be tempted to keep trying to explain things to a narcissist and maybe question your own ability to communicate, it is a waste of time. The raw emotional data inside of a narcissist’s head is completely scrambled, so you can never explain emotional stuff to them, it is like they have a virus in their software and they simply cannot process the information. They know that something is wrong, so it is more than likely that they will go on the defensive and start to blame you instead. The narcissist does not “do” relationships because they are to self-absorbed to see the other person’s point of view.
- A narcissist is completely shut off from their own pain and that is why they cannot show empathy to others. If you show you vulnerability to a narcissist they will probably shrug it off, walk away with cold indifference or make an inappropriate remark. A narcissist in not looking for a relationship their end game is control and power.
- In the middle of a discussion narcissists can change their point of view if they think that they are “loosing” the argument. They can take your point of view (especially if you are in the company of other people) and argue it back at you. This 180° shift is accompanied with condescending tone of voice and a facial expression that would indicate that you are a half-wit. They don’t even seem to notice that they have completely changed their “point of view”, or if they do they don’t care.
- Narcissists are incapable of critical thinking, they will blurt out the first thing that comes into their head irrespective of how inappropriate it may be. Reason is not present in the narcissist vocabulary either to be reasonable or to reason. It just doesn’t exist for them, to be “right” and to score points/win is the only thing that matters to them.
- Narcissists do not think in the long term, so if they have a flare up and shout at someone they expect that person to behave as though they didn‘t completely try to eviscerate them five minutes before, they expect the status quo to remain no matter how badly they behave and will get annoyed if you are act hurt or defensive towards them. They will think you are “over reacting”, “hyper sensitive” “playing the victim” and they will not be shy about telling you this.