Managing your Relationship with a Narcissist
Maintaining a relationship with a person with NPD is challenging. There are a limited number of ways to do it.
You can set the boundaries or rules for your relationship with the narcissist. It is likely these will be continually pushed or ignored. A lot of narcissists cannot tolerate boundaries or any lack of control.
The grey rock technique means to become as uninteresting as a grey rock. This means that you do not share intimate details of your life or your emotions. Some Narcissists cause chaos and drama and will at times enjoy the upset responses caused in others. They will often lose interest in you as a person if you do not let them (or show them they have) hurt or upset you and they will look for that narcissistic supply elsewhere. If you are having an emotional reaction to them then do not show it, leave the situation until you are calm and then continue as if nothing happened. If you have children with a narcissist and have to have contact then this is the best technique to use. Try to focus the conversation on the children and do not address any other subjects.
Some people try to have a relationship with a narcissist but find that it is just not working for them. Narcissists will not change their behaviour without inner work on themselves and this will probably need professional help. As a rule they will continually try to control everything about the relationship and push any boundaries you may try to set with them. You may find that going ‘no contact’ is the only option which will work for you.
The Grey Rock Technique
Managing a Relationship with a Boss or Colleague who is a Narcissist
There are many Cluster B personality disordered people in management positions, and it is quite likely that we will come across a few in our working lives. Cluster B’s are narcissists, borderlines, psychopaths, sociopaths and histrionics. Please see the Ten Personality Disorders.
They are easy to spot in the workplace once you recognise the signs. They are self-absorbed and will look out for their own interests above those of their co-workers and the business they work for (if they own the business, they will put quick profits before all else as they are impulsive and generally lack the ability to plan long-term). They are controlling and they lack boundaries. You can try to set boundaries with them which they may or may not respect, if they do abide by your boundaries, they will resent the fact you have set them. They will not respect your views or opinions although they may pretend to listen to them. They will rarely apologise. They may blow hot and cold, sometimes being friendly and other times being aloof. They may tell blatant lies. Some of them can be quite Machiavellian. They will always blame others for things which have gone wrong even if they are to blame. They can be charming but this is superficial.
Working with a narcissist is difficult and stressful especially if they decide you are in their ‘bad books’. Whilst working with a narcissist it is best to ‘go grey rock’ which means to be as uninteresting as possible and to not react to any provocation as this usually means they will lose interest in you as a source of narcissistic supply (narcissistic supply is a term which describes the reactions narcissists enjoy and get from other people. They like to feel powerful over others, have control over others, get attention, praise and admiration, and elicit negative or positive emotional energy).
Ultimately it may best to start looking for another job as it is unlikely they will change, realise the error of their ways or ever be remorseful for the way they have behaved unless they have had professional help.
Dr. Les Carter explains how to argue with a narcissist.