Negotiating with a narcissist is a nightmare. Narcissists will gaslight, accuse, deflect, manipulate, and exploit you for their own gain.
Fortunately, with a little prep, you can use their personality flaws to beat them at their own game.
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What is a Narcissist?
Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by an excessive sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, and a need for admiration. A textbook narcissist:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without actually completing the achievements)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect love.
- Believes that they are “special” and can only be understood by or should only associate with other special people (or institutions).
- Requires excessive admiration.
- Has a sense of entitlement, such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with his or her expectations).
- Is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
- Lacks empathy and is unwilling to identify with the needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes
It’s worth noting that no one exhibits all these traits all the time, and that many people display some of these traits at times. Narcissistic Personality Disorder must be diagnosed by professional, a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.
It probably comes as little surprise that people with these personality traits might not react very well if they feel like they are losing.
How does a Narcissist react to losing?
If a narcissist feels like they are losing, they may become angry, defensive, or even aggressive in response to a perceived slight or loss. You have to take extra effort to avoid making a narcissist feel like they are losing if you hope to reach an agreement.
Narcissists have a hard time accepting a loss and their ego will cause them to have a hard time moving on emotionally. They will blame others for their failure and refuse to take responsibility for it.
Additionally, they may devalue or belittle the person or thing they lost to make themselves feel better. If the narcissist feels like the negotiation is slipping away, they may become obsessed with the idea of winning and may escalate the stakes to a win-or-die scenario.
So, if narcissists can’t emotionally accept a loss in the course of a negotiation, then how can you successfully reach an agreement?
How to act during negotiations with a Narcissist.
Negotiating with a narcissist can be a difficult task as they tend to be highly self-centered and may not be willing to consider other perspectives. Your goal is to keep the negotiation moving without setting them off. If you set them off, then the negotiation is over. Here are some strategies that can help keep a narcissist in the negotiation:
Stay calm and composed: Narcissists may attempt to provoke an emotional reaction, so it’s important to stay calm and composed during the debate. Avoid getting defensive or argumentative, and try to maintain a neutral tone.
Come prepared: Research and prepare your points in advance. Having a clear understanding of the topic and the relevant facts and evidence will give you the confidence to counter their emotional arguments effectively.
Be specific and use evidence: Narcissists tend to rely on generalities and broad claims rather than specific evidence or facts to improve their negotiating position. Use concrete examples and data to support your points, and challenge any claims they make that lack evidence.
Avoid personal attacks: Narcissists may take any personal attacks as a threat to their self-esteem and react strongly. Avoid making any personal attacks or insulting them, instead focus on the topic at hand. Instead of accusing them, use “I” statements to express your needs and concerns.
Avoid playing into their need for attention: Narcissists have a strong need for attention, and may attempt to dominate the conversation. Try to steer the conversation back on track and maintain control of the debate by addressing the key points and evidence.
Expect them to avoid accountability: Narcissists tend to have a distorted sense of reality and may have difficulty taking responsibility for their mistakes or errors. Don’t expect them to admit when they are wrong and don’t engage in argument that pursue that as an outcome.
Be willing to walk away: If the negotiation is not going well, be willing to walk away and be prepared to take your case to trial.
It’s important to remember that your negotiation should be a discussion and an attempt to reach a mutual agreement, not an opportunity to show off or to prove oneself right. Narcissists tend to see the negotiation as a stage to show off rather than an effort to resolve the conflict. Keep in mind that their ultimate goal is not to find the truth, but to win.
Using a Narcissist’s own flaws to beat them.
Successfully negotiating with a narcissist requires you to convince them that your proposal is in their best interest. You have to remember that the narcissist doesn’t care about your needs unless helping you benefits them. It is difficult, but there are some strategies that may be effective when negotiating with a narcissist:
Appeal to their ego: Narcissists are often motivated by their own self-image and need for admiration, so try to position your offer as something that will enhance their image or status. Remember that you won’t reach an agreement with a narcissist unless they think the deal is worthy of them bragging about.
Play to their sense of entitlement: Narcissists tend to believe that they are entitled to the best of everything, so make sure to emphasize the exclusive or high-end benefits that your proposal provides to them and show them the return on investment they will get by reaching this agreement.
Be confident and assertive: Narcissists respect confidence and assertiveness, so make sure to come across as self-assured and in control during the negotiation.
Be aware of their tendency to manipulate: Narcissists may try to manipulate or exploit others for their own gain, so be aware of this tendency and be prepared to set boundaries and protect yourself during the sales process.
It’s important to understand that narcissists will not respond the same way as the common individual. They will approach the negotiation as if they are in control and the value of the offer will come from the benefit that it brings to them. Having a clear idea of the person you are negotiating with will make the process much easier.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Family Law Division
1101 Broadway, Lubbock, Texas, 79401
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479