Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT adds “The Gray Rock strategy is the most effective in work and dating relationships or when co-parenting after separation with the goal of being left alone.” Moreover, when it is not feasible for you to get a divorce or breakup with your partner for different reasons, this technique can be godsend. However, when you withhold love and attention from an abusive spouse but stay in the relationship, then you need to accept the fact that they may get their needs met outside the marriage. “If you want to break up or escape a hovering narcissist or sociopath, using this method may lead to them tiring of your lack of response and leaving you alone,” adds Lancer. In case you fear for your safety, make sure to seek help from law enforcement or get legal advice when needed.
2. Your offer to them is this: NOTHING
The entire objective of you being uninteresting, boring and unappealing to a manipulative, narcissistic person is that they do not gain anything from you. As they thrive in drama and conflict, they always try to suck you into their toxic world of chaos. When you offer them nothing, they will eventually become disinterested in you. Avoid responding to them, give vague answers that are devoid of any personal emotion or opinion and have a blank face. Give noncommittal responses without making eye contact that offer nothing interesting.
3. Stay disconnected and detached
“Avoid eye contact with the manipulative person when practicing grey rocking,” suggests psychotherapist Ellen Biros, MS, LCSW. As eye contact helps to build emotional connection and delivers subtle emotional cues, avoiding it can help you make verbal exchanges or interactions feel detached. Stay distracted while conversing when necessary, like using your phone or not looking at them when they speak to you. Detachment and disconnection will make the narcissist realize that they will not gain any attention from you. This will also prevent their manipulative tactics from affecting you.
4. Brief and short interactions only when needed
Interactions may be necessary and unavoidable in some cases, especially if the manipulative person is your boss, your parent or an ex parent you share joint custody of your child with. Electronic communication, such as email, text or even by phone can be especially helpful in keeping your communication short and free of emotions. However, make sure to avoid prolonged conversations despite their best attempts as it can not only lead to stress and anxiety, but make it harder for you to continue the gray rock method.
5. Never let it affect you
You need to remind yourself why you are utilizing this strategy every now and then so that you don’t lose focus nor let it affect your other healthy & positive relationships. Biros says “Grey rocking requires a disconnect from your emotions and feelings. So it’s possible to experience symptoms of dissociation or complete disconnect from your own feelings and emotions.” When not used consciously and tactfully, you can risk disconnecting from your own thoughts, emotions, needs and wants. As this approach makes you compel your true thoughts and feelings, you need to be constantly self-aware and have a healthy support system. “By not expressing yourself, you risk becoming alienated from your real self. This can be traumatic. Beware that you don’t become depressed and withdraw in other relationships,” explains Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT.
When left unchecked, the gray rock method may affect your self-awareness and sense of self identity. When you feel like you are being detached from your loved ones and friends who care about you, it is best to consult a mental health professional.
You can’t get blood out of a stone
When it’s all been said and done, the best way to handle a manipulative narcissistic person, is to leave them and simply walk away. However, when that’s not possible, the gray rock method can be exceptionally helpful to deal with a toxic person you have to interact with regularly. Just make sure you don’t use this strategy with everyone in your life and target it only at the narcissist.
Gray rocking helps you avoid abuse, manipulation, drama and chaos by being a boring toy they don’t want to play with. When you are not fun anymore, they will move on to someone more interesting, setting you free and liberated.
Here is a helpful video that you may find interesting: