Handling narcissism

Wooden figures looking in a mirror

Handling narcissism

In my last post I wrote about ways to recognise narcissistic tendencies in other people. Here, I want to give some tips about how to handle them. And that can be challenging. Narcissism in others can sometimes seem charming, but can feel intimidating when it’s aimed at you. Remember that their behaviour is often a way to cover underlying vulnerability. While you may not be able to change their personality, you can try approaches to reduce the impact of their behaviour on you. Here are some tips:

Set clear boundaries – be clear about what you will accept and stick to it.

When you disagree, listen before responding – it’s often tempting to speak up straight away, especially when you’re feeling anxious or annoyed at how you’re being treated. Letting the other person finish speaking before you respond gives you a better chance that they will listen than if you interrupt.

Be assertive, respectful and firm when making a request or saying no – this means making eye contact (if in person), calm posture and voice tone, acknowledging their request, stating clearly why you don’t agree, sticking to the facts and avoiding judgments about their motivations or intentions.

Keep requests for change focused on their behaviour – it’s understandable to make judgements or to use labels when feeling emotional in an interaction with someone. However, that can often keep the problem going. Rather, be specific about what behaviour you would like the person to change and what you would like them to do instead. E.g. “Please wait until I finish speaking, rather than interrupting me.”

Engage in self-care – do things to look after yourself like staying connected with friends and family, testing your concerns with other people, getting regular exercise, doing things you enjoy, avoiding drugs and alcohol as a way to cope.


If you’d like assistance with managing how you feel, please contact us on (02) 9119 8778 or email us on . We provide appointments in person, by phone and by video. Rebates from Medicare and your private health fund may be available for appointments.

If you are in a mental health emergency, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14, the Mental Health Line 1800 011 511, Emergency 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.