3 Sneaky Techniques Narcissists Use to Gain Attention

3 Sneaky Techniques Narcissists Use to Gain Attention

Watch out for these 3 sneaky techniques narcissists use to gain attention.

The narcissist needs all eyes on them – because they are the only supreme deity they acknowledge

Narcissists are always trying their best to gain attention because without attention they cannot survive.

For any narcissist, attention is a staple food. If you cannot provide a narcissist with the appreciation, compliments, and praise that they believe they deserve, you will be cast out of their life. For all narcissists, you are a mere supply of their needs, which include all the positive requirements for a fulfilling life. 

Most of the sustained intimate relationships are based on the mutual expression of feelings but a relationship with a narcissist will always be one-sided. It’s all about give-give-give it all, and never ask for anything in return. The moment you do so, you will be tricked, manipulated and controlled into doing things for them. 

A narcissist, without a second thought, is a self-obsessed person.

They are of the belief that the world revolves around them. Most of their time and energy is spent on making themselves look and feel good and they constantly seek self-affirmation (Twenge & Campbell, 2009). 

A crucial component of narcissism is the need to be the center of attention because doing so fulfills narcissists’ goal of being agentic. According to Buss & Chiodo(1991), when attention to the self is not forthcoming, narcissists may engage in compensatory actions to direct attention toward the self. 

You can easily become a victim of these complementary actions, especially if you have been devoid of attention for a long time. You will never come to realize when the narcissist has exploited your deepest needs to fulfill theirs. It is always a good option to know how a narcissist works to turn the wheel of attention towards themselves so that you do not remain in the dark. 

The following are 3 few ways in which a narcissist tries to refocus other people’s attention to themselves:

3 Sneaky Techniques Narcissists Use to Gain Attention

1. Playing the blame game 

One of the dirtiest games a narcissist plays is the blame game. It is a psychologically manipulative technique that the narcissist applies to project their own faults and mistakes on to the other person, getting rid of its responsibility all along the way.

Here I will illustrate how they play a blame game:

Suppose your partner is recently acting emotionally indifferent towards you. He/she has been displaying signs of infidelity like lying, hiding information and you are suspicious that he/she might be cheating on you. So one fine day you finally approach him/her armed with every single proof you have. 

You: “Recently I have been noticing some changes in you. Is everything all right? Is there something you want to tell me?” 

Your partner: “No. Why? What is wrong?”

You: “I believe you are hiding something from me. Is that true?” 

Your partner: “What do you mean I am hiding something? Are you even distantly suggesting infidelity?” 

You: “I was just wondering…” (cut short) 

Your partner: “How could you? Do you think I am so cheap? You have always been suspicious of my intent. You never trusted me even when I did my best to keep you happy. I should have never been with a controlling person like you.” 

The first thought that will strike you will be that the conflict came about because of you. You could even end up blaming yourself for mistrusting your partner. But, the fact is, it is not your fault. Note how you have politely asked for your partner’s opinions. You didn’t even mention infidelity, but he/she just got hooked to it. Your partner might or might not be cheating but it clearly shows how your partner capsized the conversation and shifted the attention from oneself to you.

You were supposed to be the center of concern because your partner’s behavior was bothering you in the first place. But your partner effortlessly turned the focus towards oneself and readily turned you into a villain. It won’t be surprising if you find yourself consoling and apologizing to your partner. 

2. Monopolizing conversation

Have you ever felt left out in a conversation? 

Or has a conversation with someone seemed like you are ‘talking to the wall’? 

Two-Way Communication with a narcissist is almost next to impossible. You might try out all sorts of tricks but you cannot help feel stupid and useless when a narcissist is blabbering around. 

Celeste Headlee said in a TEDtalk(10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation), “A conversation requires a balance between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way, we lost that balance.”

This balance is exactly what a narcissist lacks in their communication. 

A narcissist will find means to exaggerate the information that he/she is trying to convey to hold onto your attention. But once you try to express something of concern, he/she will politely yet subtly direct the conversation towards themselves. 

For instance, you are talking about how you narrowly escaped death from a car accident and your friend suddenly says, “The same thing happened to me. Once I was riding a bike on the highway and I lost control and skidded all the way across the road. I thought I almost died.” Unfortunately, you are no more the focus of the conversation.  

Some people will believe this to be a means to identify with you and your experience which actually encourages the smooth flow of the conversation. But once they shift the point of concern to themselves, you are no longer in the scenario. 

3. Engaging in the victim role  

Playing victim is the most powerful weapon of a narcissist. They wield it whenever they feel like they are losing their upper hand. They will stealthily play mind games with you until you catch them off guard. And if you do so, they will apply their final dose of trickery. 

A narcissist will find ways to belittle you, hurt you, criticize you, blame you and trample your spirits in all possible ways but when you retaliate they will immediately turn the sympathy radar to themselves. “I have been abused since my childhood and now you have left me with no option but realize that I deserve nothing better than these.” 

They will very efficiently trigger your emotions to capture your sympathy and attention. And if you are gullible and prone to be easily influenced by others, you will feed them with the attention they demand from you. 

They feed on your guilt and turn the attention towards themselves.

“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It indeed is very emotionally draining to be constantly manipulated with these techniques narcissists use to gain attention. Some people are attention-seeking to the core but they do not exploit the emotions of others to do so. But narcissists feed on other people’s vulnerabilities to put themselves in the limelight. 


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3 Sneaky Techniques Narcissists Use to Gain Attention
3 Sneaky Techniques Narcissists Use to Gain Attention
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Shreyasi Debnath

An editor and writer keeping keen interest in painting, creative writing and reading. I did my Masters in Clinical and Counselling Psychology and have been a counselling psychologist at a primary school for the past 1 year. I love doing absolutely anything that mends a mind and soothes a soul. Most often than not, I ponder over to come up with poems. A wandering soul in search for meaning.View Author posts