SKILLS FOR DEALING WITH NARCISSISM
Skills for dealing with attempts to intimidate can be divided into two areas, intrapersonal and interpersonal. Interpersonally, it is essential not to react. This means that reactions of fear, impatience, or anger are not practical. In their place should be patience and curiosity. On an interpersonal level, responses and questions like, "that's interesting; could you explain that?; or, "I am not clear about that; would you please clarify (or elaborate)?; or, "it seems like there is a contradiction in your logic." All of these can generate positive results in terms of reducing the control of the narcissistic forces. This is done through the non-reaction, which communicates, "you are not so powerful that you can manipulate me, or us, and distract us from the issue. It is also done through the questions which communicate, "I/we are not afraid of you; we are not leaving the space/situation to your control alone; we will challenge you if necessary; you cannot win through intimidation or disinformation."
Excellent individual emotional boundaries are so critical for dealing with narcissism. These emotional boundaries prevent the force of the narcissism emotions from throwing an individual off balance. The emotional boundaries are also helpful in not taking the narcissism's actions or positions personally. The narcissism, consumed and driven by the grandiosity, feels responsible for everything; therefore, all failures, frustrations, and disappointments are its fault, and are directed personally at it. In interacting with narcissism, one does not want to fall into the narcissist's world and take what is going on personally. Narcissism's actions are indiscriminate. They are directed toward any object, person or group that threatens its control, domination and grandiosity. An excellent emotional boundary system does not allow the force of another person's emotions to penetrate one's own personal space.
Accountability skills are another important tool in the sustainability advocate's arsenal. Accountability skills, used in group settings, are extremely educational to promote awareness regarding the dynamics of power. Accountability skills reduce the tendency to be a victim, and provide inspiration and support for persons looking for the courage to successfully challenge narcissistic forces. Accountability creates "space" by obligating narcissistic forces to substantiate positions, communication and behavior. Accountability skills generate the conditions that require narcissistic forces to take responsibility for their intent or give up their position.
Questions like the following are the medium for accountability skills:
How did you come to your decision/position?
What factors influenced your decision?
Have you considered the possibility that you are contradicting yourself?
Have you considered that you have avoided considering some important factors?
Can you clarify your intent and how it includes the following factors (e.g. your lack of accurate information/your resistance/your unwarranted/excessive criticism (which is actually character assassination)?