By Rebecca Zung, Esq
Do you have a narcissist in your life that absolutely drives you crazy? I know exactly what that is like because I’ve been exactly where you are.
When trying to get out of a narcissistic relationship, you really need to pivot, make a U-turn, and shift the dynamics and balance of power. Accomplishing this doesn’t happen overnight. You have to think of it in the same terms that you were unknowingly brought under their spell. Narcissists didn’t groom you in a day. They’ve been grooming and conditioning you covertly and subtly over weeks, months, or even years. It’s not like there’s a switch that you flick and instantaneously get it done. I always use these 3 steps, STEP 1: Don’t run. STEP 2: Make a U-turn, and STEP 3: Break free. STEP 1 is when you create strong boundaries, put them into place, and let them known. In this article, I’m going to give you 10 ways to respond to narcissists when they disrespect you and in effect create the boundaries you need.
Narcissists are known to constantly try to get people emotionally riled up, berate, bait, and everything else under the Sun. The worst part about it is they know exactly what to say and do to get the response they want to get. This happens quite too often in romantic or familial relationships where they know you and your buttons all too well. Now a lot of us are wondering, “How am I supposed to respond when they disrespect me?” Before we try to answer that question, let’s first understand why they intentionally disrespect people all the time. Narcissists do this because they don’t respect themselves. As a matter of fact, they hate themselves. You have to always remember that the way people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves. If people feel good about themselves, they’ll treat other people well, and if they feel bad about themselves, they’ll treat other people poorly. So, although it’s not easy, don’t take it personally at all. Narcissists are inclined to disrespect people because it tears other people down, and by doing so, bring themselves up. And when you give them the knee-jerk emotional reaction that they’re looking for, it gives them this twisted sense of value. It makes them feel so good because you’re giving them the supply that they’re craving. It really is like a drug to them, and they need an endless amount of it.
First on this list is something that you can use when the narcissists are at it again, disrespecting you and you want to just dispel them and dissipate their anger. You can respond with: I agree with you. You’ll need to be careful when using this though. If they say that you’re a horrible mom or dad, or that you’re a deadbeat, you need to be careful because you wouldn’t want to say something that they can use against you in court. You’ll want to phrase this as “I agree with you that that’s the way you feel, that you feel I’m a terrible husband/wife/mom/dad” By doing so, you’re really not agreeing with them, you’re just letting them know that you’re hearing them. As soon as they hear that you agree, they’ll start to calm down. This will be your way to get out of the heat and get out of there.
The second response that I like to use is: I can see that you’re upset. I love this type of response because you’re actually removing yourself from the equation and acting like a mere spectator to their tantrum. A mere observer. As if you’re a third party. This helps you to see them for who they really are, this will allow you to start with your healing, and get you started on a path of remembering who you really are, becoming the powerful version of yourself once more.
Number three is quite similar. Your approach is not working for me. This is you pushing back and telling them that whatever it is they’re doing is not working for you. This is also a way for you to show them that you’re the one who is upset but chose to show it in a calm manner. Using this response will make them appear to be the one who is unstable and unhinged.
Number four: Okay. This one-word response is powerful. You just look at them, say “Okay” and nothing else. You’re not taking their bait; you’re not allowing yourself to get dragged into whatever it is they’re trying to drag you in.
Next on this list is number 5. If you want to engage with me in a conversation, you’ll have to remain calm, factual, and non-emotional. This is one of those responses that clearly sets the tone and draws that hard line. Boundaries.
Number six. I know that you are hurt/upset. But that is not a valid reason to be disrespectful. Again, this is you removing yourself from the situation and allowing yourself to observe whatever emotion it is they’re feeling. You’re choosing to be calm and act like an adult and they’re the ones who are behaving like toddlers throwing tantrums rolling on the floor.
I’m choosing not to respond to that. That’s number seven on this list. This is especially useful when they’re not standing down, continue to behave poorly, and are just utterly disrespectful.
The eighth on this list is: I’m going to ask you to respect my boundaries. Before you can use this as a response you should have, from the get-go, communicated your boundaries as clearly as possible. It can be things like they’re continuously texting you when you were clear that all communication will have to be through email. So, when they continuously step over the line, use this to let them know that what they’re doing is disrespectful. This will also help in re-establishing your boundaries so you don’t give up ground.
Number nine is: I hear you. You’re not saying anything. You’re just looking at them. Like toddlers having their tantrums. A lot of times, just by saying I hear you, they got heard and that’s what they wanted.
The last one in today’s article is: If we’re going to continue to communicate, I’m going to have to ask you to speak/write to me in a way that is respectful. It’s about re-establishing your boundaries, and if they continue to engage you in a way that is disrespectful, you have every right not to communicate with them at that time. You do not have to stand there and continue to be disrespected.
I’ve been in situations too where I’ve been disrespected, and baited and it upset me. But I won’t allow myself to be continually abused. You can either wait until they’re ready to have a respectful conversation with you or not have an abusive exchange at all. You don’t have to go through this regardless of who they are. Even if they’re a family member. You have to do what’s right for you and your sanity. I know it can be hard, but until you learn this lesson life has brought you, you will continually be presented with life’s challenges. I’ve learned this the hard way. With the right help and support, I know you can rise above this.
Remember, today is the best day to start negotiating your best life. I’m so happy you stopped by and read through today’s article. I’ll see you in the next one.