Negotiating with a Narcopath

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Couples’ therapy, arbitration, legal dispute, divorce, employment tribunal – whether personal or business, these are all some form of negotiation aimed at finding resolution and settlement between two or more parties. I found any negotiation with narcissists extremely challenging – made simpler when I realized that there some core themes that were common to every type of discussion, debate, argument and negotiation.


You are constrained, Narcopaths are not

As normal human being, you are constrained by your own decent values of honesty, empathy, remorse, accountability etc. Narcopaths have none of these. More ominously, narcopaths do not feel they can ever be wrong, they will never hold themselves accountable, they will never believe that they have room for improvement, they have no intention of moderating their behaviour, and they do not count the emotional cost of such a negotiation. Moreover, their own misconception of their winning is more important to them than the financial cost (regardless of whether they technically win or lose). Quite simply, they do not participate in any form of negotiation – be it relationship therapy, counselling, arbitration, legal dispute or employment tribunal for the same reasons, or objectives, as you, nor will they. Ever.

You can read more about a Narcopath’s dysfunctional emotion regulation here.


It’s a Game

With no intention of improvement, the reason they participate in any kind of negotiation – is twofold:

  • to prolong the window in which they can benefit from narcissistic supply, and
  • as an intellectually stimulating game in which the aim is to turn the arbiter and/or general opinion against you.

The tragedy and upset that such exercises generate are crucial narcissistic supply to the Narcopath – they positively thrive on the drama and will actively seek more.


To the narcissist, relationships are a game to be played from which they derive the narcissistic supply to which they addicted. They play to a different set of rules than they allow others. They don’t care who gets injured in the process – they’re already lining up substitutes.


Word Salad

Narocpaths deploy a tactic, referred to as Word Salad after fruit salad – the melange of chopped fruit, designed to confuse their counterpart who exits the negotiation deprived of the resolution they were seeking – or indeed any resolution. How do they do it? Through an ever-changing series of manoeuvres of denial, deflection, dodge, deception, derailment, and disruption. And that’s just the D’s. Yep, even its definition is bewildering.


To What End?

As such, the opportunity for you to benefit is severely limited, and the dangers of being outmanoeuvred, confused, wholly invalidated, emotionally exhausted and financially ruined are significant.


Third Person View

You can’t see the wood for the trees. As an NPD victim, this is a very common situation to be in. You are so close to the action, you are so emotionally bound in, and so confused and bewildered by events that are so counter-intuitive, that nothing makes sense.

In considering your situation, and especially when communicating with a narcopath in any form, it is highly advisable to try and adopt a “third person view”. It may help to physical picture someone you can relate to (be they a counsellor, a wise friend or well-respecte family member) sitting on your should who is doing two things:

  • Actively spotting the tactics and traits of a narcopath;
  • Whispering in your ear a warning whenever a narcopath tactic is spotted;
  • Guiding you relentless towards a style of communication that is boring – grey, unemotional, concise, firm, giving little away.

Engaging with a narcopath in this way will do a number of very constructive things for you:

  • Assist you with self-validation that your suspected narcopath is indeed what you fear;
  • Rob the narcopath of the narcissistic supply – the drama, the tension, the sense of control over you. In time, they will be forced to seek supply from elsewhere.
  • It will start to engender the very important sense of self-worth in yourself – you will feel calmer, in greater control, and things will make more sense.
  • It will help you in switching your focus from dwelling on a negative past to increasingly focus on a positive future. You will start to feel more optimistic.


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