What do narcissists want? Attention! When do they need it? Now! Of course, there’s nothing wrong with attention and praise, but narcissists force you to focus on them. Narcissists use every manipulative tool in their weaponry to get your attention.  

One way they do this is to engage you in arguments you can’t possibly win. Narcissists never back down or apologise. So what can you do if you get into an argument with a narcissist? Here are 25 phrases to shut down a narcissist in an argument. 

25 phrases to shut down a narcissist  

If they are blaming you  

Narcissists blame their nearest and dearest, strangers, and even society when things go wrong. Nothing will ever be their fault. There’s a psychological term known as ‘locus of control’ which sums up narcissists perfectly.  

Whilst you’ll never get them to accept responsibility, there’s no reason why you should take the blame for something they are not happy about. Here’s how to shut down a narcissist using the blame game 

  1. That’s not how I remember the situation.  
  2. I’ll wait until you’ve calmed down, then we can talk about this.  
  3. I’m not responsible for how you live your life.   
  4. I’m sorry you feel like that, perhaps we need some time apart?  
  5. I’m not going to argue with you anymore.   

If they are criticising you  

Narcissists are mean-spirited and lack empathy. They use words as weapons and zone in on your weaknesses like a nuclear missile. They know what to say to hurt you, taking pleasure in doing so.

Narcissists want to see the damage they have inflicted, so don’t give them the satisfaction of showing your emotions. Keep your answers unemotional, and factual, and don’t ask why you are being criticised. This gives the narcissist more fuel for their fire.   

Here is what to say to a narcissist to shut them down if they criticize you:

  1. I won’t allow you to speak to me like that.  
  2. Unless you treat me with respect, I cannot continue this conversation.  
  3. If I’m so bad, it’s better if I leave.   
  4. I can’t control your opinion of me.    
  5. Can we please be respectful of each other?   

When they want attention  

Narcissists have low self-esteem and need attention from those around them. The trouble is that if you give them too much attention, you inflate their egos.

However, narcissists want any attention, whether it is positive or negative. If they are not getting enough positive attention, they will provoke an argument to get the focus back onto them.  

They make up ridiculous things, talking quickly, swapping one subject for another to deliberately throw you off-balance. They will be dramatically emotional and, in some cases, make no sense whatsoever.

In situations like these, you need to shut down the narcissist quickly, or it can quickly escalate into narcissistic rage.    

  1. Slow down. You are not making sense. 
  2. Prove what you are saying.   
  3. You keep changing the subject; which one would you like to discuss first?  
  4. I’m not engaging with this.  
  5. Let’s sort out one thing at a time.   

Lies, lies and more lies  

Narcissists are pathological liars, but they use lies as a gaslighting technique. They lie about what they have done, what they perceive you to have done, and everything else in-between. Narcissists twist reality to confuse and eventually control you.  

They may deliberately lie in advance to catch you out. For example, they ask you to meet them at a certain time and they get there an hour earlier. You begin to doubt yourself. This is where the narcissist wants you.  

My friend’s girlfriend was a narcissist and once called out my friend complaining that he mentioned my name every two minutes. That is impossible. He would have had to say my name 30 times in an hour.

If you want to shut down a narcissist that constantly lies, pay attention to their exact words and then call them out.  

  1. That is physically impossible.  
  2. I know that I/you did not say/do that.  
  3. Prove it.   
  4. What you are saying doesn’t make sense.   
  5. I have no reason to do the things you are accusing me of.   

If they are escalating into a narcissistic rage  

There are phases of narcissistic abuse. In certain circumstances the narcissist will give you the silent treatment or the narcissistic stare to intimidate you into compliance.

Narcissists want to you react, so if they are not getting the reaction they want they’ll say the most hysterical and dramatic things to force a response. The more frustrated they get, the more likely they are to fly into a narcissistic rage; and this can be dangerous.

One way of diffusing an escalating argument is to agree with them. Although this may seem counterintuitive or wrong, you have to realise that narcissists live in a fantasy world.

Nothing you say will make any difference in their behaviour long-term. Moreover, this is one way to shut down a narcissist if the situation is heading towards narcissistic rage.  

  1. I understand your point of view.  
  2. I completely agree with you.  
  3. That’s an interesting perspective; let me think about it.   
  4. I hadn’t thought of it that way before.   
  5. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.  

Final thoughts  

Sometimes the best way to deal with a narcissist is to cut them out of your life. However, there are situations where we can’t do that, but you can be ready for them.

Having a few phrases to shut down a narcissist will help de-escalate an argument and give you back control.   


  1. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  2. journals.sagepub.com

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ralph Griffith

    have a great day?

  2. Kai

    Record then. Tell them you are not afraid of them and you will take legal action.

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