Again, here’s another topic you may have missed in life, or maybe not. Do you know someone who is a conversational narcissist? I was unaware that I was talking about myself too much. I was unaware that I was sharing bits of information and hardly asking any questions. My best friend was the biggest victim of my conversational narcissism. And no, I am not ashamed to admit that I have problems with this because we all have issues.

Plus, did you know that there is a bit of conversational type narcissism in all of us? That’s right. So, let’s break this down so you can understand…unless, of course, you already know what I’m about to say. Some people tend to be miles ahead of me in these areas. After all, we’re all learning, every day.

What exactly is conversational narcissism?

It is the tendency to take over conversations whether in obvious ways or more subtle tactics. This keeps the conversation directed toward one person.

Okay, this is the thing. Narcissism isn’t always so obvious. It can hide behind many things, and it can also be there without the knowledge of the one using the toxic behavior.

Conversational narcissism is also easy to fall into, like a subtle trap. You can be having a normal conversation and suddenly find yourself hogging the spotlight. Then there are those who are always utilizing conversational narcissism, and there are ways to spot them. There are also ways to deal with them as well. If you realize this is you, then we can work together to deal with ourselves.

What do toxic conversationalists look like?

  • Conversational narcissists always shift responses back to themselves. Here’s an example:

Shelly: “I bought a sweater at the new boutique in town today”.

Patricia: “Really, yeah, I have been meaning to stop in there. I need a few sweaters and shirts myself.”

Notice how Patricia heard the sentence that Shelly spoke but quickly made the conversation about herself. She never asked what color the sweater was or if Shelly liked the sweater. This is one way to spot a narcissist of this breed.

  • Narcissism in conversations can also be used with small responses, like this example:

Michael: “Hey man, guess what! I aced that chemistry test.”

Peter: “Good.”

Michael: “I thought I was going to fail, but I pulled it off.”

Peter: “Yep, you did.”

Now watch what happens after Michael finishes telling Peter about his test.

Michael: “So, how did you do on your test?”

Peter: “Man, I did pretty well, but I think some of those questions weren’t in the study material.”

Michael: “Really, I thought they were. But it’s great that you did well. I’m proud of you.”

Peter: “Yeah, I studied, but I knew most of the other material, so it pulled me through.”

Notice how when Michael tells Peter about doing well on his test, Peter uses short disinterested answers. He is either not really interested, or just not paying attention. But when Michael asks about Peter’s test, Peter is ready to talk, even as Michael congratulates him at length.

  • A conversational narcissist can also just be a plain spotlight thief, taking up the entirety of the conversation. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that one. We’ve seen them and we’ve been them, for the most part.

How can we deal with this toxic behavior?

When it comes to dealing with a conversational narcissist, the point is, you cannot change anyone unless they want to change. However, here are the best ways to deal with the narcissism of this type.

1. You will listen… a lot

When you’re speaking to a narcissist, expect to listen much more than speak. Since a narcissist loves to talk about themselves, and you’re listening, then you’re, in effect, dealing with someone who’s engaging in a toxic conversation with you. If avoidance isn’t an option, then listening is the next option.

2. Have low expectations

When talking with a person of this nature, don’t expect them to be respectful enough to listen more than usual. I mean, if they are used to doing all the talking, then that is what you should expect. In fact, expect less even. If you do this, the conversation won’t be as painful as it could be.

3. Don’t try to challenge them

Although you may want to tell them the truth about what they’re doing, just don’t, especially while they’re in the middle of a conversation. Don’t try to challenge their topic with more of your day, or your happiness. They usually care only about getting their ideas and points across.

4. Use this as a learning tool

It may be incredibly painful to listen to someone go on and on about themselves, but you can learn things from this. You can learn patience, focus, and self-esteem, and these things can help you in other areas of your life.

5. You can learn what NOT to do

While listening to a conversational narcissist, pay close attention to anything that might sound like yourself. As I said, we all hog the conversation from time to time and listening to a severe case of narcissism, you can recognize all the things you need to improve on with yourself.

Let’s deal with them, and let’s deal with us

Before we try to deal with others who have toxic conversation skills, we should do a quick check on ourselves. If we don’t see anything wrong, then we should listen to others, as I mentioned above.

Also, ask your best friend, and remind her/him to be honest, and tell you if you are taking over the conversation too often. Remind your best friend that you will not be offended by the truth because learning the truth is the pathway to change. Let’s work a bit on our conversation skills, shall we?

Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Marina Catalano

    Even after identifying my own toxic behaviors (& sadly, the list keeps growing) I’ve got to constantly concentrate so hard on not being a jerk that I become overwhelmed and short circuit then down the rabbit hole of self hate & negativity I go. Which is ALSO narcissistic! I’ve got a real love hate issue w/me. I’m autistic and could write off my toxic behaviors because of it but I desperately need and want to change a lot of things I don’t like about myself. Being a conversational narcissist is one. Autism is a double edged sword as my teenage son puts it. And it’s for both of my son’s sakes that I need to change! My boys 27 & 19 both autistic are the most wonderful sons a mom could ever hope to have and deserve an equally wonderful mom, which I am not. i love them so much but I don’t feel like I love them the way they need to be loved. Life can be unpleasant much of the time, it’s hard to keep an optimistic outlook especially when your oddballs like we on the spectrum are. But I’m trying so I guess that’s something. Not enough, but something nonetheless.

    1. Sherrie Hurd
      Sherrie Hurd

      Marina,

      I will say this, don’t be so hard on yourself. We are all imperfect, always remember that. All you can do is your best, and continue to improve on that every day. A little guilt is okay, but you cannot let yourself drown in not being good enough. You are.

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