SWEET RELIEF TIP #2: Ask the Narcissist What He Wants First

A narcissist is not aware that you exist with needs and wants of your own (to understand this characteristic of narcissism, read Chapters 2, 4, and 5 of Sweet Relief). A narcissist thinks his needs and wants are really all that exist, and others should accommodate. The consequences of this behavior are not within his awareness. A narcissist will stick to what he wants even if it upsets others. Further, it’s not unusual for a narcissist to learn what you want and, having heard it, be completely incapable of providing it or allowing you to have it. You are likely to get exactly what you don’t want instead of what you do want. With this sort of dynamic, it can be challenging to make it through daily interactions without getting upset.

The solution is to start all negotiations (of any sort, even about where to go to dinner) by asking what the narcissist wants from the get go. Keep your preference or opinion to yourself. If what the narcissist wants coincides with what you already want, great. You've saved yourself some trouble. If it doesn't, then at least you know what you're working with and can use the next tip to help move things along more smoothly.

It is useful to be aware that some narcissists simply cannot give you what you want, no matter what it is or how clearly you express it. It's as if your preferences get scrambled in their brains into something else. It can feel deliberate and malicious, yet it's not. It's simply the nature of narcissism. This sort of narcissist probably even thinks what you want is what he's providing. When dealing with this person, it is best to never put what you want out on the table first - because then you can never get it. With this narcissist, it's always best to start with inquiring about their ideas first, and to never directly declare your preference.

So, Tip #2: Ask the narcissist what he wants first. Avoid declaring your preference even as you work your way toward a middle ground.

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