Communicating with a narcissist usually goes one of two ways. He either is doing all the talking or he isn’t responding at all. You see, either way he controls the conversation.
Narcissists don’t use language like normal people do. We communicate our needs, thoughts, feelings, and ideas. We talk to entertain and be entertained and we talk to gain intimacy in relationships. The narcissist talks to obtain a goal. He may be talking to win over a new source of narcissistic supply, to gain sympathy, to deceive, to divide people, or to divert consequences. He almost never talks in order to share who he is and he never listens without an ulterior motive. If he is in a conversation he can’t win he will either attack the person talking or he will take his ball and go home with a petulant, “You’re illogical – I’m outta here.”
It’s good to keep that in mind.
Tip One: Nod and Smile
Make sure you are listening because you don’t want to accidently agree to something dumb but you’ll find yourself not talking very much – and definitely not being listened to. Nodding and smiling allows you to really frustrate the narcissist because he isn’t getting a response and we all know how much fun that is.
If you want to stay on his good side for some reason throw him a bone now and then and praise him for something. That’s also good strategy if he starts to criticize you. Narcissists can’t resist admiration no matter what else is going on.
Tip Two: Appeal to His Ego
With an ego the size of his it’s not too hard to figure out what to say in order to achieve necessary communication. If he isn’t paying child support you can mention to him how the teacher at school bought your child a winter coat because she thought your child needed one and it seemed that it was not in the budget. This doesn’t work with all narcissists but those that like to be admired for their material possessions will usually make sure that no one thinks he can’t afford things for his child ever again.
Tip Three: Make a Record
No matter what you are talking about, whether it’s on the phone, text, Skype, or email make sure you keep a detailed record of how you communicated, when you communicated, and what was said. File it and keep it forever. I repeat, do not ever get rid of your files – you may need them far into the future.
If you have something on record he can never say he wasn’t aware or he didn’t understand. He cannot accuse you of lying. You have proof and proof is a valuable thing.
Tip Four: Get It in Writing
Try to keep your communications in writing. When you talk on the phone, even if you have a record of the conversation it can quickly become he said/she said. He won’t deny the conversation but he may deny what was discussed. Save emails, scan hard copy letters, and whatever else you have that is in a visual format to two flash drives. Put one in a convenient place and put the other somewhere that it will be safe from fire and other damage.
Tip Five: Keep It Exact
Always say what is necessary in the shortest possible way. Be precise. Give facts and as little else as possible. Do not try to appeal to his empathetic, sensitive side because he doesn’t really have one – a least not where you are concerned. This is not the time to use your favorite adjectives, adverbs, and other really cool parts of speech. Keep it caveman simple.
Doctor visit was $45. Your part is $22.50. Attached is the bill. Hard copy is in the mail.
Tip Six: Use Certified Mail
If you have to send receipts and whatnot to your ex always use certified mail. It’s too easy for him to say that he didn’t receive it. Certified mail doesn’t cost much and it proves that it was received. File the receipt away forever and also make a scan of it to add to your file.
Tip Seven: Don’t Let Him Be the Victim if You Can Help It
I have always been upfront with what is going on in my life, obviously. The problem is that I can be so upfront and honest about it that it looks like I am the drama queen. After all, all he is doing is trying to get on with his life and here I am telling people what a pain he is. Poor thing.
That makes me want to explain myself even more. Which in turn makes me look more like a drama queen to those who don’t know (and don’t want to know) the whole story.
It’s a tough thing to do, and not something I have mastered, but try to just vent with a close friend and keep it quiet publically. My problem with doing this is that I want y’all to know you aren’t the only ones going through it. When I share on social media and here I get emails thanking me. So, I will probably keep being transparent and hoping eventually he shows his hand. In the meantime y’all don’t do as I do – do as I say.
Tip Eight: Just Don’t
If you don’t have to communicate don’t. I send the emails I get from the ex’s new wife to my current husband. He can read them and decide if it’s something I need to read or not. I do the same with the ex’s emails. Then they go to the lawyer. Boom.
It’s much less stressful and it helps control my anxiety.
What are your tips for communicating with the ex? Join First Wives World today and share your best strategies for dealing with a narcissistic ex-husband.
Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: Rochelle Hartman