A narcissist is amusing to observe, exhausting to talk to, infuriating to work with, and toxic to date. It’s perfectly natural to wonder how to make a narcissist miserable. They’ve been pressing your buttons for far too long. I’m at your service with these 13 things you can do to outwit a narcissist!
The trick lies in using everything they hate to your advantage. It’s time to turn the tables on the narcissist who’s been making your life hell. Let’s provoke the provoker, and wound their precious pride.
To give you an extra edge on your mission, I have some insights from a brilliant expert with over a decade of experience as a counselor. Nishmin Marshall, former director of suicide prevention center SAATH, is here to talk about narcissistic tendencies, and how to combat them. So let’s get started with Mission Miserable!
How Do You Outwit A Narcissist?
It’s essential to understand someone before you go into revenge mode. So, who is a narcissist? Any individual with an inflated sense of self, who needs constant admiration. He/she can’t take any form of criticism, carries a sense of entitlement, and loves being in the limelight. You see why they’re frustrating to be around?
A brutal quote on Facebook read – “There’s no ‘I’ in team but there are two in narcissist.” I choked on my coffee reading it. But their vanity can be used to bring about their downfall. Outsmarting a narcissist is not that difficult after you ask, “What is the weakness of a narcissist?”
I don’t usually talk about this, but I’ve employed a few of these techniques myself. My best friend’s boyfriend, Dennis, was a royal pain in the tush. His self-absorption was nauseating to be around, and he treated my bestie awfully. Just for a little bit of fun, I decided to get back at him using a few tricks. Keep reading to find out how to make a narcissist miserable as I did.
13 Things To Do To Make A Narcissist Miserable
From ignoring them completely, to being a happy little butterfly – there are many things you can do to outsmart a narcissist. It’s easy to get under their skin…You’re the best judge of which technique will work on the narcissist in your life. Think about their disposition and then decide what to do.
Don’t go around feeling guilty for this little devilish streak in you – they pretty much had it coming. I’m going to resolve all your doubts as you read ahead. Go forth and conquer!
1. Not your circus, not your clown
Narcissists thrive on attention. They simply LOVE basking in the adoration of their peers. This comes from a need to be validated constantly. I once counted the times Dennis used phrases like, “Isn’t that great, babe?” or “How cool am I?”at dinner. Six times in one hour. Yes, you read that right.
The first thing to do is stop entertaining them. You can make a narcissist panic by withdrawing the validation they desperately seek. Let them drop as many hints as they want, let them brag away, but do not walk into the setup which leads to you complimenting them.
Nishmin says, “A narcissist craves attention, and most people just give in and appreciate them. But don’t do that. Hold your ground and convey that ‘No, you do not impress me. I will not fawn over you’. This is bound to make a narcissist unhappy because they can’t conceive why someone wouldn’t like them”
Related Reading: 8 Signs Of Covert Narcissist Hoovering And How You Should Respond
2. How about no?
Narcissists can be quite persistent and charming. Consequently, they always end up getting their way. They aren’t used to people turning them down, and this is precisely why you should. The request can be big or small, maybe even something as trivial as, “Can you hold my bag?” Say no.
They’ll firstly be a little stunned. Then they’ll have trouble understanding why you would reject their demand. If you were wondering how to confuse a narcissist, here’s your answer. Say no, and let them manage by themselves for once. You have to stop giving too much of yourself if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist.
You need to show that you’re approaching them on equal footing. Stand up for yourself. Tell your narcissistic boss that you will NOT work the weekend, and tell your narcissistic friend that you WON’T take her picture. This is the slyest way to checkmate a narcissist.
3. Make a narcissist panic by grounding them in reality
What are narcissists best at? Self-conceit. And how does self-conceit make them talk? Like they’re untethered from reality. Dennis used to float far away from this earthly plane when he began monologuing his life. He once claimed to have eaten the world’s spiciest chili in a hut in Canada without batting an eyelid.
“Countering their creative fantasies with hard facts is a good tactic. Narcissists need to be reminded that what they say can be verified, that people won’t just buy their stories.” Nishmin adds, “Your facts need not be presented with hostility. Just lay them out in a composed manner. A narcissist needs to know you’re not stupid.”
You can make a narcissist fear you by showing them that you are knowledgeable. And if they try and feed you a half-baked story, you can most certainly run a background check on it. A good fact check is always effective. In a way, it’s quite similar to dealing with an alpha male.
4. Think straight and sharp
As I said, narcissists are charmers. It’s very easy to get ‘taken’ by them. If you want to know how to make a narcissist miserable, think critically at all costs. Be reasonable and don’t let emotions distort your objectivity. If you fall under their spell, you’ll end up validating them. This is how most people continue to be in an emotionally abusive relationship with narcissists.
Consider this situation: Your narcissistic coworker wants to take over a project you’re handling. He comes over and begins complimenting you – “Before everything else, can I just say how good that shirt looks on you?” He, then, mentions the project and talks about his desire to work on it. “I’ve been wanting to do it forever, and my background in the field will really help me. I’m the perfect fit for the project if you think about it.”
What do you do? Do you fall for the trap and hand over the project? Or do you critically analyze his suitability and intentions? Doing the latter is the key to outsmarting a narcissist. Tell him you recognize his achievement, but you are going to keep this project because…well because you want to!
Related Reading: 7 Reasons Why Narcissists Can’t Maintain Intimate Relationships
5. Fortify yourself and use ammo to checkmate a narcissist
Drawing boundaries is not enough; you have to enforce them too. If you want to make a narcissist unhappy, you have to show them that their actions have consequences. If they cross a boundary, be direct and call them out. Block them on social media, or (in the case of a work setting) file an official complaint.
Moreover, you have to quit seeking their approval. Nishmin puts it best when she says, “You have to stop trying to please a narcissist. Because it will never get better, you’ll never be enough. Instead of spreading yourself too thin, just draw boundaries. You have to protect yourself even if it means confronting them.”
Checkmate a narcissist by fortifying yourself emotionally. Once you stop being tolerant of their self-absorption, you will make a narcissist fear you. Confront them without beating around the bush for maximum effect.
6. SURPRISE! – Your answer to how to make a narcissist miserable
Losing control of situations is every narcissist’s nightmare (they’re a little bit of a control freak). They love things going their way because that enables them to always be in the spotlight. A good way to understand how to make a narcissist miserable is to spring the occasional surprise on them.
It will serve as a reminder that you too are in control of things. If your narcissistic friend is supposed to have lunch with you, invite a few other friends without telling her. Surprise! If your narcissistic boyfriend thinks you’re staying in for the night, have your parents come over for dinner suddenly. Surprise!
Spontaneity is the solution to how to confuse a narcissist. They won’t have time to calibrate how they’ll impress the company. Chances are, they’ll get flustered and awkward even if they don’t show it. Their expression of ‘huh?!’ will be priceless to observe.
7. Misery in losing
The most enjoyable experience I’ve lived through was watching Dennis lose at Pictionary. His face got all red, and he kept trying to peg it on the ‘inherent unfairness of the game’. He was a sore, sore loser and I managed to click a picture of him when he was sulking. What he did not know was that my boyfriend and I had rigged the game to win! (*winks*)
Since a narcissist’s self-image is far off from their real personality, they think they’re champions at most things. Making them lose at something is a good way of telling them they’re fallible. What’s that line from Game of Thrones? “We all need to be mocked from time to time, lest we start to take ourselves too seriously.”
The next time you want to learn how to make a narcissist miserable, hand them a defeat to remind them that they’re mere mortals who can make mistakes. It’ll be fun for you, and a lesson for them!
8. “Come again, Brenda?”
“Calling a narcissist out in public taps into the thing which scares them the most – people thinking badly of them. Public humiliation will be a lesson they’ll remember for a while. Don’t be afraid of sounding mean, just do it,”advises Nishmin.
Make a narcissist panic by pointing out their errors in front of a group of people. And do this by calling obvious attention to them. They’ll try to cover it up by backtracking, or they’ll admit their error reluctantly. But in both cases, a narcissist will get super conscious of the eyes on them.
Besides the classic, “Come again?” you can use phrases like, “I didn’t get that, just repeat that bit for me” or “I’m sorry what did you just say, I think I heard you wrong?” Can you hear the evil laughter playing in the background?
Related Reading: 21 Ways To Tell You Have A Narcissistic Husband
9. Unfollow, block and delete to outsmart a narcissist
Say sayonara once and for all. If your situation permits it, completely cut off the narcissist from your life. This person can be an ex, a friend, an acquaintance, or a colleague. Block all channels of communication because you don’t need their kind of egotistical negativity around you.
And you can do this to make a narcissist miserable. Most of them are under the impression that they’re everyone’s favorite. When they find out you’ve blocked them, they’ll wonder – why doesn’t she like me? The idea of someone not liking them will make a narcissist unhappy.
Plus, blocking them will give you a lot of mental peace and stability. You can finally stop wondering how to respond to their gaslighting. You’re probably thinking that this is a little insensitive, but our actions have repercussions. They have brought this upon themselves by causing hurt to others. Craig Lounsbrough says: “To be your own God is to be the biggest participant in creating your own hell.”
10. Make a narcissist miserable by banishing all excitement
What is the weakness of a narcissist? Boredom. They love excitement and thrill, so anything resembling mundanity is a threat to them. They abhor routine and vanilla relationships, so you can bore them for the fun of it. Launch into a monologue about barrels or geography, take them to a dry lecture, or introduce them to a dull person.
Don’t let them take over the conversation, and keep pushing the yucky subject. They’ll try to escape but insist on their presence. My sister once set up her friend with a philosophy major who was a major bookworm. The date went horribly because he only spoke about Immanuel Kant’s idealism.
On the bright side, the friend never bothered my sister again. Boredom is a hilarious way of outsmarting a narcissist. You’ll have them sighing in exasperation very quickly.
Related Reading: 12 Signs You Are Dating Someone With A God Complex
11. Authority is a delicious antidote
Nine times out of ten, narcissists are intimidated by authority figures. This is why they often struggle with power in relationships. That gives you two options – place them in front of an authority figure, or become the authority figure yourself. The latter is more advisable and practical. Taking charge is a great way to show a narcissist his place.
Nishmin weighs in, “Approach them from a place of power. It will show that you’ve had this power all along, but were nice enough to not use it. Maintain eye contact, and keep your voice steady. Be assertive as best as you can.”
But being assertive should not be confused with rudeness. The aim is to know how to make a narcissist miserable. The answer is – by standing up for yourself. If they can’t respect you as an equal, they will do that when you assume the role of a superior.
12. How to make a narcissist miserable? Shine bright like a diamond
There’s no good way of saying this but the happiness of others makes narcissists envious. Since their own lives are kind of empty, they can’t bear to see fulfillment in their peers’ lives. The best way to make a narcissist unhappy is to be your happiest, sunniest self.
“If you have any accomplishments, you could use those to generate jealousy within the narcissist. As a rule, anything that makes you happy will make them uncomfortable. Feel free to rub your happiness in their face because that will make a narcissist panic,” says Nishmin, adding that in doing so, you should not get carried away to the extent of self-deterioration. “Don’t become bitter. Keep it light.”
So the next time you walk into the office, put a smile on that face. Be cheerful and joyous in following Walt Disney’s instruction – Smile, and let the world wonder why!
13. Redirect the limelight
A narcissist’s self-obsession is fed by the spotlight they shine on themselves. You could very smoothly redirect that light on yourself, or anyone honestly. In a meeting for instance, when that narcissistic coworker is trying to take all the credit, you can gently pitch in that the others have put in considerable effort too.
This will turn the tables on a narcissist effortlessly. They’ll be a little enraged at the attention they have to share (and might even use gaslighting phrases) but that’s okay. The only thing you keep in mind is steering everyone’s attention away from the narcissist.
Every time they talk about themselves, switch the focus of the conversation. A few attempts later, they should take the hint. If this doesn’t make a narcissist fear you, I don’t know what will.
I think you’ve got enough to help you checkmate a narcissist. Just remember to be balanced even if you’re trying to get back at them. Extreme steps should be avoided at all costs because you’ll be the one who will regret them. I wish you luck on your mission! Farewell!