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How to Deal With a Narcissist (And When You Should Move On)

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How to Deal With a Narcissist (And When You Should Move On)

They seem charming. They seem too good to be true. They are complimentary and loving, and they will do anything for you.

That doesn’t sound like a description of a narcissist, does it? But it can be. Well, at least at the beginning when you first meet them, and that’s the problem. Many times, a narcissist will fool other people into thinking they are a great person when in reality, it is all just an act.

But they can’t hide their true selves forever. Eventually, their nasty side will come out, and it usually leaves other people confused.

What happened to that charming person you met? Why did they change?

They didn’t change. They were just suppressing who they really are.

What do you do if you find yourself in a relationship with a narcissist? How do you even deal with a narcissist? Or should you even bother at all? Should you just cut them out of your life and move on?

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These are all important questions to consider. But first, let’s talk about some communication strategies you can use when you are talking to a narcissist.

How Do You Communicate With a Narcissist?

So, you think you are involved in a narcissist. They are not easy to deal with, so how exactly do you deal with a narcissist in terms of communication? There’s not an exact science to it, but here are some tips.

1. Don’t Expect Much From Them

Narcissists never give you much. They are too concerned with what they are “getting” from other people to be thinking about what they can do for you. The world revolves around them—not anyone else. So, you can’t expect them to do much for you. I mean, you can, but you will be highly disappointed.

2. Don’t Engage in the Negativity

Negativity is a primary tool that is used by a narcissist. After the “honeymoon” phase I described in the opening of this article, there is not much warm-and-fuzzy talk or action. There is very little positivity that happens with them. But don’t give in to it. Refuse to play that game with them. Avoiding negativity is the first step to learning how to deal with a narcissist.

3. Use Simple Replies Like “Yes” or “No”

You can never really win an argument with a narcissist. Even if you are obviously right and they are obviously wrong, they will never let you “win.” They can never admit when they are wrong. So, don’t try to convince them. Instead, just use simple answers, such as “yes” or “no.” That way, they cannot escalate the conversation to their favor.

4. Ask Clarifying Questions

If you find a situation where you cannot avoid a conversation with the narcissist, if they continually force you to engage with them, just ask a lot of questions. Ask them why they think the way they do. Ask them what they are feeling at any given moment. Most likely, they will not be able to answer you because they do not do any self-examination at all. But at least you can try to point out the flaws in their arguments.

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5. Use Humor

Humor is a good way to diffuse almost any situation. When people are angry or are arguing, they are just exuding negativity. When this happens, it becomes like a downward spiral that is difficult to recover from. So instead, try to inject some humor in there to try to diffuse the negativity in your conversations. If you don’t know how to deal with a narcissist, you can always make use of humor.

6. Separate Their Behavior From Their Character

Many times, narcissists will engage in name-calling and character attacks against you. Instead of firing back insults to the narcissist, you should separate their behavior (what they are doing or saying) from their character (who they are as a person). This strategy works well because it makes them less defensive. When you call them a horrible person (character), they will fire right back at you. But commenting on their words and actions will help them see how what they are doing is wrong.

What Does a Narcissist Want in a Relationship?

Why would a narcissist even want to be in a relationship? Relationships are about compromise and give-and-take, right? So, how could they possibly want to do that?

Well, here are some things that a narcissist might want out of being in a relationship.

1. A Sense of Entitlement

Because they think they are the center of the universe (or at least want to be), they think they deserve to have everything they want. But life doesn’t work that way. So, narcissists are looking for someone who will give them their way all the time. Their sense of entitlement is a way of life for them, and so they look for someone who will overlook this character flaw.

2. Flattery

Narcissists also have big egos, even though this ego is false. In other words, they try to make other people think that they think they are better than them. However, many times the opposite is true. They don’t really think they are better than other people, so they need flattery to make themselves feel better. They need others to tell them how good they are.

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3. Admiration

Going hand in hand with flattery, narcissists also crave admiration. They want people to love them because they don’t love themselves. Sure, it sounds like they love themselves, but they don’t. Therefore, they need to surround themselves with people who will “look up to them” because they don’t even look up to themselves.

4. Power and Control

Narcissists love to have power and control. They like to think they are superior to other people and therefore, they need to have power over them. They need to control as much of their world as they possibly can—and that includes controlling other people. That’s why they prefer to be around the kind of people who can be easily controlled.

How Do You Stop a Narcissist From Hurting You?

Being in any kind of relationship with a narcissist isn’t easy, and they will inevitably try to hurt you by getting the upper hand. They don’t care about your feelings. They only care about themselves.

So, how do you deal with a narcissist? How can you possibly stop a narcissist from hurting you? Believe it or not, there are some ways.

1. Set Boundaries

Narcissists will take advantage of you and walk all over you—but only if you let them. Remember, they want an easy prey—someone who acts like a victim. So, don’t do that! Set firm boundaries and let them know when their behavior is unacceptable. Be consistent and stick to your guns.

2. Mindset/Attitude

Everything in life is about mindset and attitude. These are important if you want to learn how to deal with a narcissist. I love the saying, “It’s only a problem if you think it’s a problem.” That’s not to say that being in a relationship with a narcissist isn’t a problem—because it is. But keep your mind in a positive place. Don’t give them the power to bring you down.

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3. Don’t Take It Personally

If you remember nothing else, remember this—their selfish behavior is all about THEM, not YOU. It has nothing to do with you. They would act the same way with absolutely anyone who allows them to. So, don’t take it personally and think there is something wrong with you because there is not.

4. Don’t Let Them See You Hurt

Okay, so maybe they did hurt you. Don’t let them see you cry! They love weakness in other people—they thrive on it. When they see weakness in you, it will just encourage them to keep doing what they’re doing to you. So, don’t show them your feelings. Act courageously even if you have to fake it because it will disarm them. They want to break you down, so when you act strong, it takes the “fun” out of it for them.

5. Leave/Stop Spending Time With Them

You don’t always have the option to cut ties with a narcissist, but many times, you do. If you’ve tried all you can to get along with them and you are still miserable, then get away from them. There is no reason you have to allow them to suck the life out of you. Love yourself enough to walk away.

Final Thoughts

Even though narcissists can make your life difficult, you should actually feel sorry for them. Why? Because “hurt people hurt people.” They wouldn’t be a narcissist if something unloving hadn’t happened to them at some point in their lives.

They probably just became narcissists to survive. But while it’s okay to feel sorry for them, that doesn’t mean you should put their needs above your own. Love yourself first. Keep in mind these tips on how to deal with a narcissist. Don’t take any abuse. Stand up for yourself—because you deserve it!

More Tips on How to Deal With a Narcissist

Featured photo credit: DANNY G via unsplash.com

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More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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