12 Simple Tips For Dealing With Sociopaths and Narcissists When Avoidance Isn't An Option
- Operate with an eventual goal in mind. If you don't set one, they will.
- Flip your human switch (shameless TVD reference). Emotions in this case will not be an asset. Put them away for later examination.
- Have a smile on your face. Narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths, and the occasional person with untreated or insufficiently treated BPD hate not being able to control your emotions. They also have a tough time gauging sarcasm, despite their propensity for using it. Having a sardonic smile on your face now and again, as the interaction continues is a great way to throw them off.
- Dominate your space! If you're physically there with them, the best thing you can do is to look effortlessly comfortable. Manspread if you must. Kick back and relax. Their egotism will not allow them not to see this as a subtle attack. Oftentimes after utilizing steps3&4 you'll start to notice the power dynamic shifting in your favor.
- Seem uninterested. Appearing distracted and like you have other, more important things to do will absolutely drive these people nuts. Look at your phone or your watch, or smile and glance at your phone as if you've just received a funny text message. While doing this might be rude when dealing with someone who is not toxic, it will serve you quite well when you are forced to deal with someone who is. The key is to make them aware that they are not in control of you or the situation. To most people, this wouldn't be a big deal, but to a toxic cluster b, it will grate on them and will throw them off-kilter.
- Don't let them set the parameters. When interacting with a toxic cluster b person, you must do everything you can to make it absolutely apparent to them that they have no control over you. If they ask you to come back later or to call you back, insist on talking now. If they let you go and expect you to pick up the second they return your call or message, make them wait. If they want you to sit in a specific chair in their office, don't sit there. Again, these might seem like trivial suggestions, but they will make or break your interaction with a toxic cluster b.
- When they inevitably complain about having to actually do their job, fish for compliments, or let you know how much trouble you've put them through, make it clear to them that you don't care. A simple statement like "oh no," "interesting" or "it sounds like you're really struggling here" will go a long way to shifting the power dynamic in your favor. While a well and balanced individual would likel simply acknowledge that yes, they are having a hard time now that you mention it, and might ask you for advice or appreciate you trying to commiserate and empathize with them, a toxic cluster b will absolutely take umbrage with even the most benign of observations, assuming that you are challenging their perceived superiority (which you absolutely are, because they are in no way superior). This will lead them to feel off-balance, and they will likely do whatever they can to end the interaction.
- RECORD EVERYTHING! Toxic cluster b people will almost never admit to having done or said anything incorrect. Make sure that you're writing down what they say and keeping track of what they do and when. I don't care if you have to bring an entire ass notebook to your meetings. Do it. It will absolutely pay off in dividends. Anytime you can document conversations with a cluster b, you should. This will drive them up the wall.
- Use the documentation you're putting together against them. When they try to tell you that they never said/did x, y, and z, whip out your emails or that notebook I just referenced, and look up exactly what they said and when. Let them know that you're happy to share your documentation with them if it might help them to remember. This will encourage them to do what it is they were supposed to do in the first place, just so that they no longer have to deal with you.
- We just talked about using their words and actions to your advantage. Now let's talk about two other factors which can also be used to your advantage: silence and awkwardness. When they've said or done something inappropriate or disrespectful, they're trying to shift the emphasis from them to you, by getting you to become emotional. Don't do it. If they've said something absolutely heinous, make them sit in silence afterward. Maintain eye contact, maybe shake your head a bit like huh...I guess you just said something really stupid. Maybe squint your eyes a tad or frown slightly. After making them sit silently in the awkwardness they've created, go back to step 7. Throw in an "interesting" or a "huh," before glancing at your watch or phone, and then getting them back on task. Adding something like"so back to x, y, and z," or "huh...well, since we have a limited time here and would both like to move on with our respective days..." before calmly returning the discussion to the topic at hand.
- If the person in question is especially obtuse, calmly call out their behaviors as they happen. If you're dealing with a particularly overt narcissist, for example, who gets into your face and tries to dominate your space, you might calmly say something like "I notice that you're moving into my space right now and that you're tensing your muscles. It seems like you're struggling. I'll give you a moment to get ahold of yourself so that we can have a productive conversation." Make sure that you calmly maintain eye contact and don't back down (unless you genuinely believe that this person is an imminent threat, which normally they aren't--they're much more likely to try to seem intimidating than to actually do anything harmful without the benefit of you escalating the situation the way they want you to). If you can give them the sense that not only is their behavior not having the desired effect, but that you can in fact predict their behavior before it happens, this will gut them completely. You now have a toxic cluster b ready to eat out of the palm of your hand, just to get rid of you. They may actually go to great lengths in the future, to avoid having to deal with you again.
Give yourself a pat on the back. Being authentic and self-actualized can be a difficult path, but working toward that is so important. Toxic cluster b's cannot stand and in fact, are quite afraid of anyone who can stand their ground calmly and authentically with them. They may even end up respecting you, though my advice would be not to trust them even so. I hope these twelve tips and tricks for dealing with toxic cluster b people have helped you! Tell us your experiences with toxic people in the comments section, and let us know what has and what hasn't worked for you.