In this video Dr. David B. Hawkins, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, talks about his recent conversation with a Narcissist. He shares the discouragement of trying to have a mutually satisfying, mutually respectful conversation and explains why is it hard to talk to a narcissist.
Why is it Hard to Talk to a Narcissist?
I had a conversation today with a narcissist, or rather, I should say a narcissist talked at me, not with me. Every attempt I made to be heard was met with interruption, talking over me, arguments, and the constant interjection of his opinion. As the conversation progressed, I found myself feeling increasingly frustrated, small, insignificant, and wondering what was going on.
I had anticipated having a genuine conversation, where there would be an equal exchange of information, active listening, and the opportunity to tackle problems together. However, none of that happened. It became clear that talking to a narcissist is an incredibly challenging task. In this article, we will explore the reasons why is it hard to talk to a narcissist.
Lack of Empathy and Listening Skills
So why is it hard to talk to a narcissist? Narcissists have a limited capacity for empathy and genuine listening. They are primarily concerned with their own needs, opinions, and desires. When engaged in a conversation, they tend to dismiss or invalidate the experiences and perspectives of others. Instead of actively listening, they often interrupt, talk over others, and interject their own opinions, disregarding the input of those around them. This makes it incredibly challenging to have a balanced and meaningful conversation with a narcissist.
Desire for Control and Dominance
Narcissists have an insatiable need for control and dominance in interactions. They feel threatened by any challenge to their authority or differing opinions. Consequently, they respond to attempts at communication as power struggles, using tactics such as argumentation, confrontation, and aggression to maintain their sense of control. This need for dominance stifles any possibility of a healthy and cooperative exchange of ideas.
Manipulation and Gaslighting
Narcissists are skilled manipulators who often engage in gaslighting tactics during conversations. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that causes the victim to doubt their own reality, perception, and memory. Narcissists may distort facts, twist narratives, or outright lie to undermine the credibility and confidence of others. This manipulative behavior makes it extremely challenging to have constructive and honest conversations, as the narcissist constantly undermines the trust and validity of the communication.
Feeling Small and Insignificant
Engaging in a conversation with a narcissist can leave the other person feeling small, insignificant, and devalued. The narcissist’s constant need for attention and validation overshadows any attempt at genuine dialogue. The focus becomes solely on the narcissist, leaving the other person feeling unheard and dismissed. This dynamic can lead to feelings of overwhelm, silence, and shame, which further erode the possibility of productive communication.
Establishing Boundaries and Making Tough Choices
In many cases, individuals who find themselves in relationships with narcissists reach a critical point where they must make difficult choices to protect their well-being. Setting boundaries and ultimatums becomes necessary to maintain self-respect and preserve one’s mental and emotional health. This can involve communicating to the narcissist that a relationship can only continue if it becomes mutually respectful, empathetic, and satisfying. However, taking such steps can lead to the potential end or disruption of the relationship, making it a challenging decision to make.
Engaging in conversation with a narcissist is an arduous task due to their lack of empathy, desire for control, manipulative tactics, and the resulting feelings of insignificance experienced by the other party.
Establishing boundaries and demanding a mutually respectful relationship may be the only option for self-preservation in such situations. It is essential to recognize the difficulties of engaging with narcissists and to prioritize one’s own well-being when faced with these challenging dynamics.
Also read: Can a Narcissist Change or Heal?
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.