Identifying a conversational narcissist
If you are having trouble spotting them, then here are a few common signs of conversational narcissism that will help you point out the person who talks about themselves all the time:
- The conversations are never interactive, they are always like a one-sided, unending monologue.
- They have an heightened sense of self-importance.
- They will interrupt you mid-sentence to bring the focus back on themselves, even if you’re saying something important. They always have a better story to tell.
- They talk continuously and are unable to stop. In fact, the conversations can be so long that it may feel like a lecture.
- They tend to exaggerate the value of their own accomplishments
- They constantly seek respect, appreciation, admiration, approval and validation from others.
- They are not focused on building connections with others or engaging with the listener.
- They often have unrealistic expectations from the listener and believe that others must respect their opinions without hesitation. They may even criticize others’ opinions.
- They are often self-absorbed and fantasize about beauty, success or power.
Read also: Signs of Narcissism
How to cope with a conversational narcissist
If there is someone in your life who always talks about themselves, and if you can’t avoid them, then there are some strategies that can help you respond better to them. Here are a few ways that can help you to deal with conversational narcissism:
1. Listen, but stop the conversation when you need to
If you have a friend, family member, coworker or a boss who talks only about themselves, then you might have to listen to them even if you don’t really want to. However, when you listen to them try to identify what their actual need is. Do they want admiration or appreciation? Or do they want to boost their ego? Once you realize this, interrupt them and tell them something simple yet positive about them. But it is likely that they might want to continue their monologue or change the topic to something else. That’s when you need to stop the conversation, especially when it continues for too long.
Psychotherapist and author F. Diane Barth, L.C.S.W., writes “It’s really not damaging to tell someone who you’ve been listening to for more time than you have to spare (and more than you want to give away) that you’re really sorry, but you have work you have to do and you’ll have to continue this conversation later.”
2. Set boundaries
Make sure to protect your boundaries. By setting healthy boundaries you can restrict their access to you and prevent them from exhausting your time and energy. Therapist Wendy Behary, LCSW says “When you know someone has this trait, set limits to your exposure to them.” This is especially important as you cannot have a reasonable conversation with a narcissist. However, if you have to interact with them, be mentally prepared for it, set a time limit and look forward to cultivating a two-sided conversation, if possible.
3. Curb your expectations
Although you should try to have a mutual interaction with a conversational narcissist, you should not expect too much from them. Don’t have much expectations from them. Don’t demand anything from them. When you feel like ending the conversation, communicate that in an assertive manner and simply walk away. Do not provide any support statement. Simply smile and leave.
4. Realize that you cannot change who they are
“You won’t be the one to change them,” says psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D. So make sure not to take things personally. Try to resist the urge to challenge their opinions and thoughts. The secret to winning against them is silence. The more unresponsive you get, the more frustrated and uncomfortable they will become. When they start becoming desperate for your attention, bring your awareness to your breath and clear your mind, while maintaining eye contact. Then when you need to, end the conversation.
5. Be a conversational narcissist
The best way to deal with conversational narcissism is to use reverse psychology and become a conversational narcissist yourself. Simply flip the script and start talking about yourself and dominate the conversation. Talk about your achievements, your goals, struggles, dreams and your feelings. And if they start interrupting you, be critical of them and continue talking. Not only this will change the game, but it will give them a taste of their own medicine.