It’s a scary fact that narcissists walk among us every day. If you’re like most people, you know at least one of these infuriating and impossible individuals—and chances are you know even more! Sadly, it’s not always easy to recognize a narcissist from the moment you meet (they’re sneaky that way!). But fortunately, Dr. Mark Goulston has unlocked the secrets to identifying and dealing with the irrational people in your life.
“It’s easy to get enmeshed with narcissists because they are deceptively charming when they want to be,” says Mark Goulston, MD, author of “Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone(AMACOM, 2015, ISBN: 978-0-814-43647-9, $17.95) and Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life (AMACOM, 2015, ISBN: 978-0-814-43636-3, $24.95,www.markgoulston.com). “The earlier you can spot a narcissist, the better are the chances that you’ll be able to distance yourself and sidestep getting tangled in their web of drama.”
Goulston points out that narcissist behavior can include everything from lies and manipulation, to doublespeak, fearmongering, guilt tripping, self-centeredness, and every bad behavior in between. He points out that if you have to deal with a narcissist at work or in your personal life, it can take a real toll on your happiness and quality of life over time.
“The best way to deal with a narcissist is to avoid them,” adds Goulston. “But first you have to know what to look for. My Narcissist Inventory is an essential checklist for identifying suspected narcissists.”
Keep reading for Goulston’s Narcissist Inventory quiz followed by his no-fail strategy to stop narcissistic abuse instantly.
To use the Narcissist Inventory, rate the person on a 1-to-3 scale (1 = rarely; 2 = sometimes; 3 = frequently):
- How often does the person need to be right at all costs?
- How often does the person act impatient with you for no good reason?
- How often does the person interrupt you in the middle of what you’re saying, and yet take offense if you interrupt?
- How often does the person expect you to drop whatever you’re thinking about and listen to him or her—and does the person take offense when you expect the same in return?
- How often does the person talk more than he or she listens?
- How often does the person say, “Yes, but,” “That’s not true,” “No,” “However,” or “Your problem is”?
- How often does the person resist and resent doing something that matters to you, just because it’s inconvenient?
- How often does the person expect you to cheerfully do something that’s inconvenient for you?
- How often does the person expect you to accept behavior that he or she would refuse to accept from you?
- How often does the person fail to say, “Thank you,” “I’m sorry,” “Congratulations,” or “Excuse me” when it’s called for?
To score your inventory, add up the total:
10-16 = The person is cooperative.
17-23 = The person is argumentative.
24-30 = The person is a narcissist.
Of course, there may be circumstances in which you must deal with a narcissist. For those moments when you are forced to endure someone’s inappropriate behavior, keep this strategy in mind. It will shut down a narcissistic rant or attack in seconds flat.
- Identify who he or she is by using the above inventory.
- Never expect him or her to not act in a condescending and controlling manner (so you won’t be caught off guard or blindsided when they do).
- When they act in that manner, look them straight in the eye, unfazed, and let them finish whatever they’re saying.
- When they finish, pause for 2-4 seconds (which will cause them to realize their usual MO didn’t work on you).
- Then say, calmly, firmly, and looking into their eyes, “Please repeat everything you said in the last few minutes, especially about what you want me to do, in a normal tone of voice. I have an uncontrollable habit of tuning people out when they are yelling, talking at, or talking down to me, and if what you said was important for me to hear, I’m afraid you’re going to have to tell it to me again.”
“Here’s the bottom line,” concludes Goulston. “If you don’t learn to manage the narcissists you encounter in daily life, they will control you—or at least make you very unhappy. The sooner you know the red flags to look out for, the better off you’ll be. It’s better to say ‘no, thanks’ and get out of the danger zone than be a casualty of someone’s jerkish abuse.”
About the Author:
Mark Goulston, MD, is the author of “Just Listen” and Talking to Crazy. He is a speaker, advisor, activist, writer, syndicated columnist, radio co-host, former UCLA professor, FBI hostage negotiation trainer, and the author of seven books.
About the Books:
“Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone(AMACOM, 2015, ISBN: 978-0-814-43647-9, $17.95) and Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life (AMACOM, 2015, ISBN: 978-0-814-43636-3, $24.95, www.markgoulston.com) are available from major online booksellers.