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Your Narcissist Friend Probably Isn’t Listening to You

If you can recognize this pattern, you can handle your favorite narcissist more effectively.

One trait of men and women with narcissistic habits makes them frustratingly difficult to deal with — either as a partner at work or someone to live with at home.

As a therapist who specializes in helping couples build more satisfying marriages, I focus on this trait in particular.

What is that habit that most people overlook about narcissists?

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When you interact with a person with narcissistic habits, you need to stay strong. Don’t be aggressive; just strong in self-confidence. Expect to be heard. Keep nicely but confidently putting your comments back out there until you succeed.

Then you never know what might emerge. The most overlooked sign of narcissism may — or may not — melt away!

There are many signs of narcissism, but the most telling but overlooked sign is habitual non-listening.

Narcissistic folks tend to do a lot of talking and very little listening. The narcissist knows best, so why bother listening to what others have to say?

Have you ever spoken with someone who responded to whatever you said by dismissing it? Narcissists brush aside, negate, or deprecate what others say instead of truly listening.

There are 2 tip-offs that give this way:

  1. The word “but”: This deletes whatever came before — “But a better way to look at it is…”
  2. Voice tone: If the response sounds irritated or deprecating, that’s the sound of unwillingness to listen to what’s valid in what you just said.

You are especially likely to trigger a narcissistic person’s message-deafness if your comment differs from the narcissist’s viewpoint. Narcissistic folks hear the words but block out the meaning, the message of the words they are hearing.

Why do therapists tend to miss the poor listening habits when they are assessing narcissism?

People with narcissistic tendencies do tend to listen to someone they see as higher in power than themselves. If those with narcissistic habits respect their therapist, their listening can appear to their therapist to be quite normal.

If the therapist, by contrast, were to see that same client interacting with his or her spouse or employees, the listening patterns would most likely be glaringly different — dismissive, ignoring altogether, minimizing the importance of the point that the spouse or employee just made, disagreeing with it, and pointing out what was wrong with it.

Most psychologists work with individual clients rather than with couples, so they consequently miss out on seeing the narcissistic listening habits.

Furthermore, another reason why therapists seldom note the narcissistic pattern of dismissive listening is because the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists the factors that therapists use for diagnosing emotional problems and problematic personality patterns.

Alas, this manual makes no mention of listening deficiencies as a diagnostic factor for narcissism, so therapists tend not to look for them.

Again, psychology in general, and even more so the psychiatrists who write the DSM manual, have historically focused primarily on individuals rather than on what those individuals do when they interact with others.

What are some ways that help you deal more effectively with narcissistic dismissive listening?

1. Do Not Take It Personally.

If someone you know talks with minimal listening, first and foremost do not take it personally. Dismissing what you say as wrong or irrelevant says more about that person than it does about you or what you have said.

Just as you would not take personally the limited hearing ability of someone with partial deafness, realize that your narcissistic friend, co-worker, or loved one has a genuine disability.

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2. Repeat What You Said.

Just as you would repeat, perhaps more loudly, what you were trying to say to a deaf person, find ways to repeat, tactfully, the message that you were trying to communicate.

One formula for tactfully repeating a comment that has been brushed aside is first to agree cooperatively with what the narcissist has said. Then, reiterate your prior point. That is, agree, and then add your perspective.

You: The walls in this room are an unusual color of green.

The narcissist: No, they’re not. They’re yellow.

You: Yes, I agree that they are yellowish and at the same time, there’s a lot of green in the yellow, rather like a lime color.

Why are we drawn to narcissistic people?

Narcissists initially can appear to be very attractive. Many narcissistic individuals are good-looking, earn a good living, and are fun to be around.

Women are attracted to male narcissists because they seem powerful, special, and self-confident. Men are attracted to female narcissists who are strikingly beautiful or sexually appealing.

It’s only when narcissists begin to ignore their partner’s concerns and dismiss what their partner says that narcissistic listening disorder becomes a source of relationship tensions.

Watch Dr. W. Keith Campbell discuss the psychology behind narcissism.

Why do we miss the signs of narcissistic listening deficiency earlier in the relationship?

Narcissists do listen to people who seem to more powerful or who have something that they want.

So, when they are courting, they listen very well. It’s only when the relationship feels secure that narcissists relax back into their baseline dismissive listening style.

What can you do if someone you work with or love has a narcissistic non-listening pattern?

If you have chosen someone with narcissistic habits as a life partner or you have to deal at work in an ongoing way with someone who has difficulty listening to you, begin by viewing narcissism as a handicap. In spite of their charisma, narcissists have a genuine listening deficit.

Ratchet up your self-confidence because you’ll need to speak in a way that conveys an inner sense of personal power.

And from that self-confident stance, use collaborative dialogue skills. Show that you have heard your partner’s viewpoint and then persist until you have succeeded in conveying your viewpoint as well.

Praise and affection will also get you everywhere. Narcissistic folks relax and, therefore, listen better when they feel appreciated.

And keep reminding yourself that most narcissists can and do listen, even with empathy, when they experience the person with whom they are talking as having greater power.

What’s the moral of the story?

When you interact with a person with narcissistic habits, you need to stay strong. Don’t be aggressive; just strong in self-confidence. Expect to be heard. Keep nicely but confidently putting your comments back out there until you succeed.

Then you never know what might emerge. The most overlooked sign of narcissism may — or may not — melt away!

This guest article originally appeared on The Most Overlooked Symptom Of Narcissism.

Source: psychcenteral