4 Ways to Deal with Conversational Narcissism

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The reality is that people love to talk about themselves. Because everyone looks at the world from their own perspective, they often feel inclined to share it with others.

Even though there is nothing wrong with voicing an opinion, some people simply talk about themselves too much. If you find that someone continuously directs the conversation back to them, they may be a conversational narcissist.

So in this article, we will provide a definition of a conversational narcissist and provide a list of signs that you might be dealing with one.  From there, we will provide four actionable strategies you can use to deal with conversational narcissism. 

Lets’ get to it. 

What Is Conversational Narcissism?

Many people are familiar with the fact that narcissism refers to people who continuously focus on themselves. Conversational narcissism does not necessarily make someone a narcissist. Instead, conversational narcissism refers to individuals who may have a tendency to redirect conversations back to them, no matter what the discussion may be about.

Even if the discussion is about something that happened hundreds of years ago in history, a conversational narcissist will somehow find a way to redirect the conversation back to something about themselves. 

There are a few signs that someone may be a conversational narcissist. These include: 

  • They may continuously horde time during the conversation, redirecting everything back to them. 
  • They continuously control the topic of conversation, not letting anyone direct the conversation in a different direction. 
  • They continually interrupt someone as he or she is speaking. 
  • They do not empathize with anyone who is going through a difficult time that could be discussed during the conversation. 
  • They continuously praise themselves as they speak. 
  • They have a feeling of false superiority as they talk about something they did or said. 
  • They seem to offer unsolicited advice to everyone. 
  • A few other people in the conversation stream as an extension of themselves. 

Remember that someone who is a conversational narcissist is not necessarily a narcissistic person. They simply cannot realize that they continue to direct the conversation back to themselves. Fortunately, if you are speaking to someone who is a conversational narcissist, there are four ways you can redirect the conversation elsewhere. 

4 Ways To Deal with Conversational Narcissism

If you are engaging in a conversation with someone who has a conversational narcissist, you may be wondering how you should respond. A few ways you may be able to deal with conversational narcissism include: 

1. Acknowledge and Listen Before Moving the Conversation Elsewhere

If you know that you are going to be engaging in a conversation with someone who is a conversational narcissist, you should think about how you can move the conversation forward without insulting the person you are talking to. For example, it is entirely possible that a conversational narcissist could be talking about something that is very important. Once they are finished speaking, acknowledge what they have to say. Validate their feelings.

You should listen intently to what they are saying, think about why they are saying it, and consider why it is important. A conversational narcissist is craving validation. Therefore, give them the validation. Let them know that you genuinely care about what they have to say. If it is important to them, it is important to you. The sooner you can acknowledge this validation, the better they are going to feel about what they are saying. Then, you will be able to move the conversation forward after that. 

Ultimately, the sooner you validate what they have to say, the sooner they are going to be more comfortable moving on. You will protect the well-being of your relationship if you listen to what the other person has to say and validate their feelings. If you validate their feelings, you let them know that you believe what they have to say.

Remember that you do not necessarily mistrust someone who is a conversational narcissist. You simply would like to talk about something that does not necessarily revolve around them.

After you have validated their feelings, you should be able to see a look in their eyes that lets you know they are happy about it. Then, you can develop a good excuse to end the conversation as soon as possible. There are a few ways you can do that.

First, you can simply steal the conversation in another direction. For example, you can ask the other person for their opinion on something. That way, they feel like they are still the focus of the conversation even though you are switching the topic. Solicit the opinion of the other person involved. This will let them know that you still care about what they have to say. 

Or, you can decide to end the conversation and move on elsewhere. You can simply find an excuse to close it out and move on with your day. For example, you can let them know that you are late for an appointment. Or, you can let them know you have another obligation elsewhere. If you are able to find an excuse to end the conversation, you will be able to move on. 

As long as the person isn't too much of a conversational narcissist, either of these approaches should work. On the other hand, these approaches aren't necessarily going to work with everyone. Fortunately, there are other tactics you can use if you are dealing with someone who is a conversational narcissist. 

2. Follow the Sharing Principle

Another tip that you may find useful if you are speaking to a conversational narcissist is something called the sharing principle. There are some situations where the other person in the conversation may not be interested at all that anything you have to say. No matter what you say, the other person always finds a way to bring the conversation back to them. If you are having trouble steering the conversation in a different direction, the sharing principle may be helpful to you. 

In general, this principle states that you should try to share as much about yourself as the other person shares got himself or herself. When you start to share more information about yourself, the goal is to break the pattern your friend has developed of doing all the talking.

Of course, some people are not that comfortable speaking that much about themselves. If you are not comfortable sharing details about yourself, this may be challenging for you to follow; however, it may still be worth a shot.

For example, the conversation may start out relatively benign. The other person may start by telling you about his or her day. As soon as a sentence closes, you should jump in and let the other person know about your day as well. 

Of course, the other person may try to interrupt the conversation, as this is a common pattern when it comes to conversational narcissists. Your friend may share a struggle that he or she had with someone during his or her day. When that sentence is over, you can jump in and share another struggle about yourself. The goal is to mirror what the other person is saying. That way, the other person should realize that he or she is talking a lot about himself or herself. 

This principle is not for everyone. Clearly, there are some issues that can develop if you try to continually jump in and share information about yourself.

For example, the other person may get agitated. He or she may get upset with what is going on. After all, the other person is used to dominating the conversation. If you are not comfortable with the situation, there are other techniques you can try as well. If the other person does not appear to respond to what you have to say, you may want to try the preparation method instead. 

3. Prepare Before Engaging That Person in a Conversation

If you are about to engage in a conversation with a conversational narcissist, you may want to think carefully about how you are going to approach the conversation. After all, there's a good chance you are talking with this person because he or she is your friend. Therefore, do not let the conversation died on till you know the exact reason why the other person is behaving that way. You need to be open and honest about what is happening in your relationship.

Many people simply do not realize that they are doing all the talking. They may not realize that they are only talking about themselves and not asking about the other person. Most people do not want to monopolize all of the time given to a conversation. If you are able to let the other person know what is going on, he or she may make an earnest effort to change. Of course, if you would like to approach the conversation in this way, you have to prepare appropriately. 

Before you enter the conversation with a conversational narcissist, you need to ask a few questions about yourself. These include:

  • What exactly is stopping you from having a meaningful conversation with the other person? 
  • Does the other person let you get a word in during the conversation? 
  • Does the other person appear to continuously redirect the conversation back to himself or herself?
  • Is this behavior during conversations having a negative impact on your relationship? 
  • How do you feel about the current status of your relationship would that person? 
  • What do you think you can offer as a suggestion to rectify this issue? 
  • Are there specific examples you can point out that can help your friend improve? 

It is important to note that this is a heartfelt, earnest way to deal with someone who has a conversational narcissist. No matter what the issue might be, it is challenging to bring up such sensitive issues to a friend. When you are ready to talk about this with your friend, you need to make it very clear.

Start by saying,

“I would really like the pause this conversation for a minute to talk about something that has been bothering me for a while.”

Then, try to lay out the issues. The vast majority of people are going to realize that you are instantly going to talk about something that is important to you. Therefore, they should make it important to them as well. 

When you start to discuss this issue, you need to acknowledge the good parts of your friendship. Obviously, there is a reason why you still have a relationship with that person despite these issues. That way, the other person will not feel like he or she is under attack.

If you really care about the friendship and would like to salvage the relationship, you do not need to point accusations at each other. Try to avoid speaking in absolutes. Try to address the behavior instead of the person. That way, you will avoid personal attacks. This will prevent the other person from getting defensive. The other person will also realize that you would like to save the relationship. 

4. Always Have an Exit Strategy

A lot of people are going to make an effort to change this behavior if you give them the chance to do so. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to respond this way. If the other person does not appear to respond to your efforts to convince them to change, you need to have an exit strategy. That way, you will be able to extricate yourself from the situation without harming your own mental or emotional health.

If someone else truly will not stop talking, it is a one-sided friendship. If that is the case, it is not a real friendship. In order to prevent a conflict from escalating between two people, you need to have an exit strategy. You should quit while you are ahead. How can you do that?

Sure, you can refuse to answer their phone calls. You can try to avoid responding to their text messages. You can stop responding to them on social media. You may be able to duck them if you run into them in town. At the same time, if you really want to send a message, you need to address them one last time. You should be honest and straightforward with the other person. Even though this can be difficult, you will be able to get any toxicity out of your life.

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You need to have an exit strategy if the other person does not appear to respond to your efforts to convince them to change.

When you speak to that person, let them know that you care about them as a friend. Then, quickly let them know that the current state of your relationship is not good for you.

Remind them that you have already tried to have a conversation with them about the way they are behaving when you speak to each other. Of course, you do not want to be rude to them. On the other hand, you do not want to sugarcoat the issue either. Instead, be straightforward, let them know how you are going to act moving forward, and let them know that you are trying to end the relationship. 

If you are not excited about the relationship or the friendship, there is no reason to continue pursuing it. If you let them know you are ending the relationship because of their behavior during conversations, it may finally motivate them to change.

On the other hand, you do not need to stick around for this. Remember that it is not good for your mental or emotional health. If the conversation only goes in one direction, you are being used. This is not something you should subject yourself to. 

These are just a few of the many ways that you can effectively deal with conversational narcissism. If you can put these strategies into practice, you can redirect the conversation effectively without ruining the relationship you may have with the other person in the conversation. 

Final Thoughts on Conversational Narcissism

Ultimately, everyone likes to talk about themselves. Some people like to talk about themselves more than others. On the other hand, nobody likes to listen to someone who talks about nothing except themselves. After all, everyone else wants to get a word in as well. If you find that someone is continually talking about themselves, this does not necessarily make the bad person. Instead, they may simply not realize what they are doing.

By following these strategies, you should be able to direct the conversation in different directions, effectively dealing with someone who may be engaging in conversational narcissism.

Finally, if you want to ask better questions, then watch this short, 20-minute course to learn how to have a great conversation with virtually anyone.

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