Conversational Narcissists – How To Deal With People Who Talk Only About Themselves

What is a conversational narcissist?

Trying to talk to someone who is a conversational narcissist is irritating, frustrating, and difficult. These types of people constantly find a way to turn a conversation around and make themselves the center of attention. When talking to such a person, you will find that your concerns, opinions, and views do not matter; in fact, you will not have the chance to convey your thoughts and feelings at all. It is important to note that the conversational narcissists are often unaware that they steal the focus of every conversation.

There are four ways that a conversational narcissist ensures they are the center of attention:

  • They start talking first to make sure they dominate the conversation and the topic.
  • They do not give others a chance to speak as they constantly talk about themselves.
  • They interrupt other people when they change topic and quickly circle back to their own issues.
  • They purposely dismiss, invalidate, and ignore your points so that you feel uncomfortable and stop talking.

How should you deal with a conversational narcissist?

1. Listen and try to identify what they need.

When one fails to talk about anything but themselves, it is worth trying to identify why this is. Do they want to be appreciated and admired? Is it a way of boosting their ego? Or are they feeling distressed and genuinely need support? Once you realize why they are dominating the conversation, try to give them what they need. If they simply want somebody to boost their ego, interrupt and say something positive about them. If they continue talking despite your show of appreciation and admiration, cut the conversation short. According to psychotherapist and author F. Diane Barth, L.C.S.W., “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 and limit exposure.

When you know that somebody is a conversational narcissist, make sure that you limit the time you talk to them. This means figuring out how much time you can spend with them without feeling drained and limiting your exposure to them accordingly.

3. Change your expectations.

It is important to lower your expectations of this person once you realize that they are a conversational narcissist. Do not expect them to show interest in you, your life, and your problems. Expecting them to care will always leave you disappointed and upset.

4. Accept that you cannot change them.

Do not take the conversational narcissist’s inability to have a balanced conversation as an insult. Accept that this is just the type of person that they are and that there is nothing you can do to change them. Do not take things personally because they do not mean any harm. More often than not, they are not even aware that they steal the focus. If you feel yourself getting irritated and frustrated, simply end the conversation.

5. Become a conversational narcissist. 

If all else fails, do what they do. Start talking about the things which are important to you and if they begin interrupting you, point out their interruption and continue talking. Unfortunately, this is the only way to get your point across and it might even make them see that this is generally the way that they behave.

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