By their very nature, Narcopath’s are the most difficult, contrary, confusing and toxic people you will ever have to negotiate with. Just attempting it will drive you crazy. But if you can understand their mindset, there are some tips and tools that can make achieving what you want achievable.
Who are you Kidding?
Before trying this feat, pause a moment to consider what you are up against. They have a huge sense of entitlement, they cannot feel normal-range emotional regulators (such as remorse, sympathy, guilt, fairness, empathy & love), they will never say sorry with anything like a proper apology, they are pathological liars, they are prone to narcissistic injury, they are master manipulators, they are shameless about using others as pawns in their game of chess, they do not count the financial or emotional costs etc.
Put it all together and it is clear to see that you are never going to get a proper win out of an argument or negotiation with someone who has NPD – let alone anything like a balanced and respectful debate. Don’t kid yourself otherwise.
Clearly life moves on and there will be plenty of instances when people cannot simply give in to a narcopath. A proper and fair resolution needs to be found. So how does one go about it?
Impose by Consequence
Consider the following as perhaps the only way to achieve a fair and reasonable compromise:
- Decide yourself what a fair resolution is. This needs careful balance and consideration on your side.
- Stress test this against the following questions – is what you are proposing legally correct, is it morally correct, would it pass the approval of an impartial mediator?
- Ensure that what you propose is going to achieve what you want now, but also well into the future, and in a sustainable way.
- Consider whether it fair not only to the immediate parties, but any other stakeholders to the issue (eg if you’re discussing child visitation rights, consider also the grandparents).
- Write down your demands for the Narc in a very clear and concise format, in a very business-like tone, and leaving out any emotion.
- Develop a list of the consequences that you will be imposed on the narc should they fail to adopt and respect your plan – the penalties, your responses etc. Do this giving full regard to their fears (and avoiding their fears becoming reality is a sure-fire motivating for a narc).
- Try to keep any legal recourse, if applicable, to an absolute minimum. Sadly the experience of many vitims of NPD abuse is that the legal system is woefully inadequate and managing high-conflict divorce or litigation fairly, reasonably and cost-effectively.
- Strategise carefully all potential subsequent steps – are you prepared for the implications, retaliations, all likely developments and consequences?
- Consider a fair and achievable set of deadlines that your demands must be met by.
- When you are happy with the demands you are making, and the consequences you have carefully considered, add those consequences and the associated deadlines to the bottom of the written list of demands.
- Give the whole thing a thorough reality check. Are you really confident that the demands are fair and reasonable? Are you fully prepared to carry out the penalties if the narc fails to meet your demands, and do you have the ability to do so?
- Bear in mind that you are not only seeking to secure a resolution on the current issue now, but also establish the clear precedent of how you will conduct any future “negotiations”.
- Deliver the written list to the Narc, and do so from a place of physical safety and robust legal & moral protection. Use your support group to provide this where at all possible.
- Be fully prepared to impose the consequences you have clearly defined swiftly on the deadlines stipulated, without any further notice.
- Reassure yourself that behind the facade of confidence, control and bluster that the narcopath is deeply insecure and fear.
Some tips I would suggest:
- If you can, conduct the debate in writing (eg texts and/or emails) – this leaves a record that they can’t dispute, it gives you vital evidence, and it also takes the heat out of a situation whereby you can better control the tone. It also ensures your personal safety.
- Keep emotion out of it – they thrive on drama and will want to provoke you in to losing your temper
- Be very firm on your facts – have clear hard evidence prepared if you can.
- Leave them a back door that they can escape from that still meets your objectives. For example, if you are confronting your partner because you suspect them of having an affair, don’t get them to admit it – you just need to seek enough evidence that you yourself are satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt. Box them in and you are likely to end up with narcissistic rage.
- Be very focussed about your aim. Often this is to get to some truth – you must avoid if possible that you should do so in a way that is humiliating for them.
- If you really need to force an issue, conduct the debate in an environment whereby their supporters as well as bystanders witness it. Narcopaths fear being revealed for who they really are – and so whilst they abuse like crazy behind closed doors, they are much more cautious about revealing their narcissistic traits publicly. If you ever have to resort to a verbal discussion, insist on having it in a café or similar where there are witnesses.
- Consider recording the conversation – either video or voice – if the debate is an important one for which you need resolution and evidence.
- Ensure your personal physical safety before entering the debate, and throughout its passage. Even the most benign issues can quickly escalate into major dramas is the narcopath senses that they are not going to get their way.
- Anticipate an initial response of volcanic rage – this is entirely consistent with NPD. This is the adult manifestation of the infant’s temper tantrum. Do not engage with it, to not stoke it, do not acknowledge it – it is likely to pass quicker than you may think.
- Appraise yourself of the many ways in which they will wriggle and be prepared to negate these. Play Narc dodge bingo if helps, ticking off all of the typical ways that they duck the issue.
- Understand the role of Narcissistic Supply – don’t feed the narcissist the drug they desperately crave.
- Don’t let narcopaths dodge points – which they will when they sense that they are going to lose. Unemotionally bring them back to each and every point until you’ve clarified it.
- Don’t allow yourself to either show any emotion, or allow any emotional argument into the debate. They do have the empathy to understand or respect emotional points, but will instead use anything emotional against you – by gaslighting, word salad etc
- Don’t allow anything to be agreed verbally only. If you can’t get them to offer something in writing, follow up immediately with them in writing stating your understanding of offers and agreements made with the clear request that they immediately confirm in writing any comments that they wish to make.
- Don’t count on the legal system to provide you with the solutions you need. It may be that you will have to take legal steps – but try and use these as a course of action of last resort.
- Don’t accept words and promises. Narcs are pathological liars and will do anything to wriggle off any hook. Insist on actions instead. Get it all in writing, even if you have to draft resolutions yourself.
- Do not flinch, back down or negotiate any further. The narc will want to gain supply from this interaction – and negotiating further is one such massive source of supply. It is for this reason that it is so important that your list of demands are fair and appropriate, and that you do not deviate from your path.