A narcissist is amusing to observe, exhausting to talk to, infuriating to work with, and toxic to date, given their own ego problems and how much they lack empathy. 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 make a narcissist panic! Let’s give them the taste of their own medicine and play their own game with them.
The trick lies in using everything narcissists hate to your advantage. It’s time to turn the tables and drive a narcissist mad. Let’s provoke the provoker, seek revenge, and wound their precious pride. To give you an extra edge and make you feel confident in your mission to crush a narcissist, I have some insights from a brilliant expert with over a decade of experience as a counselor. Nishmin Marshall is the former director of the suicide prevention center SAATH and an expert in areas like anger management, depression, and abusive marriage. So, let’s find out what our expert has to say about narcissistic tendencies, and how to combat them. Ready to outplay a narcissist?
How To Turn The Tables On A Narcissist
Is narcissism a personality disorder? According to research, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by a persistent pattern of grandiosity, fantasies of unlimited power or importance, and the need for admiration or special treatment.
It’s essential to understand someone and their bad behavior before you go into revenge mode and develop revenge tactics. So, who is a narcissist? Any individual with an inflated sense of self who needs constant admiration. They can’t take any form of criticism (it’s one of their weak spots since you want to know how to outplay a narcissist), carry a sense of entitlement, and love being in the limelight. Do you see why they’re frustrating to be around? They lower your and everyone else’s self-esteem.
A brutal quote on Facebook read – “There’s no ‘I’ in team but there are two in narcissist.” I choked on my coffee while reading it. But their vanity can be used to bring about their downfall. Outsmarting or exposing 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 would go to great lengths to treat my bestie awfully. When a narcissist is mad at you for no reason, it is important to challenge the status quo. So I decided to get back at him using a few tricks and a little bit of fun. Keep reading to find out how to make a narcissist as miserable as I did by doing the things a narcissist hates. For example, what do narcissists do when you ignore them? Let’s see.
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 and crush a narcissist. It’s easy to get under their skin and make them feel miserable. However, be aware that they might have dramatic reactions to these tricks. You’re the best judge of which technique will work on the narcissist in your life. Think about their disposition and the worst thing they are capable of, and then decide what to do. It’s important to know that if they have resorted to emotional abuse, it’s better to first prioritize your safety and only then try the tips below. Emotional abuse can be a destructive force in relationships, constantly seeking to one-up you by undermining your self-worth and manipulating your emotions.
Don’t go around feeling guilty for this devilish streak in you – They pretty much had it coming. I’m going to resolve all your doubts as you read on. Go forth and conquer!
1. Don’t give them attention
Narcissists really want and thrive on attention, even if it is negative attention. They simply LOVE basking in the adoration of their peers to feel important. This comes from the need to be validated constantly. I once counted the times Dennis used phrases like “How cool am I?” at dinner. Eight times in one hour. Yes, you read that right.
Looking for handy tips on how to drive a narcissist nuts? What do narcissists do when you ignore them and how can it trigger their narcissistic rage cycle? The first thing to do is stop entertaining them and maybe even resort to silent treatment or cut ties. Narcissists thrive on attention and admiration, so when you withhold that from them, they become restless and desperate for your validation. 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 that 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. The best thing you can do is hold your ground and convey, ‘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.”
How do you drive a narcissist nuts by withdrawing the validation they seek?
- Understand the behavior
- Maintain emotional distance
- Avoid compliments
It’s important to redirect the focus away from their grandiosity and onto your needs and concerns or those of someone else who is affected by their behavior.
Related Reading: 8 Signs Of Covert Narcissist Hoovering And How You Should Respond
2. Tell them 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 first be a little stunned before going into their full-blown narcissistic rage cycle. 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 themselves for once with their low self-esteem. You have to stop giving too much of yourself if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist and see the narcissist running scared.
You need to show that you’re approaching them on an equal footing. Pro tip on how to checkmate a narcissist? Stand up for yourself. Don’t be like the flying monkeys who enable a narcissist and then wonder why they don’t change. Examples: 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. Try it.
3. Ground them in reality
What are narcissists best at? Self-conceit. And how does self-conceit make them talk? Like they’re untethered from reality with an extremely inflated sense of self-importance. Dennis used to float far away from this earthly plane when he began monologuing his life. It was a big deal for him. 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 and is one of the things a narcissist hates. Narcissists need to be reminded that what they say can be verified and 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.”
Looking for advice for when a narcissist is mad at you? One way is to make them fear you by showing them that you are knowledgeable. And if they try to 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. They can never accept the fact that they have been proven wrong.
4. Think straight and sharp
As I said, narcissists are charmers with a very fragile ego. It’s easy to get ‘taken’ by them. If you want to know how to shut up a narcissist, think critically at all costs, as there can be real consequences. Be reasonable. 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.
Here are a few ways you can practice this:
- Set boundaries
- Stay objective and have clear-eyed appraisals of what you will do
- Recognize manipulative tactics
Consider this situation: Your narcissistic coworker wants to take over a project you’re handling. He comes over and starts love bombing you with compliments – “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 love bomb 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
How to turn the tables on a narcissist? Drawing boundaries is not enough; you have to enforce them too, both verbally and through your body language. 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, try to draw healthy 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. But remember, when dealing with narcissistic people, it’s important to set healthy boundaries and prioritize self-care and self-love. Living our best life requires us to break free from the self-centered mindset of a narcissist and embrace genuine connections by spending time with people we love, and go after meaningful achievements and personal growth.
6. SURPRISE them!
Losing control of situations, in most cases, is a 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 answer to how to confuse and shut up 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. Expose a narcissist by making them lose
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 couple’s game to win! (*winks*)
Since a narcissist’s self-image is far from their real personality, they think they’re champions of their own life and would do anything to regain control of the situation. 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 them miserable and see the narcissist running scared, 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.
Related Reading: “Cut Him Off He Will Miss You” — 11 Reasons It Almost Always Works
8. Call them out
“Calling a narcissist out in public taps into the thing that scares them the most — People thinking badly of them. Public humiliation will be a lesson they’ll remember for a while for all the bad things they’ve done. Don’t be afraid of sounding mean; just do it,” advises Nishmin.
Point 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?” Can you hear the evil laughter playing in the background?
However, a few things to keep in mind when you do this are:
- Choose the right setting
- Provide legitimate evidence
- Stay resolute and confident
Recognize that confronting a narcissist in public can be emotionally challenging. Prioritize self-care and emotional support during and after the encounter.
Related Reading: 21 Signs Of A Narcissistic Husband And How To Cope
9. Unfollow, block, and delete to outsmart a narcissist
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 and walk away because you don’t need their kind of egotistical negativity around you.
Narcissists generally have 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 harm to others. Craig Lounsbrough says, “To be your own God is to be the biggest participant in creating your own hell.”
10. Banish all the excitement
What is the weakness of a narcissist? Boredom. They love excitement and thrills, 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. Ever heard of the gray rock technique? This is how it works.
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. Establish your authority to make a narcissist miserable
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. To expose a narcissist, the latter is more advisable and practical. Taking charge is a great way to show a narcissist their 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.”
However, being assertive should not be confused with rudeness. The aim is to know how to make a narcissist miserable. The answer is – Stand 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. Take care of your happiness
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. When a narcissist sees you have moved on, they go at their lowest.
“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. She adds, “In making them feel guilty for hurting you, 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 their space, 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
Many narcissists have a self-obsession that 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 equal effort.
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) but that’s okay. The only thing to 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.
Fun and games aside, if you’ve been severely affected by this person and need guidance and healing, the best person to reach out to is a licensed professional. Our counsellors from Bonobology’s panel are just a click away.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by a persistent pattern of grandiosity, fantasies of unlimited power or importance, and the need for admiration or special treatment
- Saying no, taking care of your happiness, enforcing boundaries and your authority, and calling them out are among a few ways you can deflate a narcissist’s inflated ego and make them miserable
- It is crucial throughout this process to prioritize your own well-being
I think you’ve got enough revenge tactics to checkmate and drive a narcissist mad. 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 regrets them. Also, be mindful to recognize the potential for a trauma bond to develop, which doesn’t happen in healthy relationships. It is crucial, then, to prioritize your own well-being.
Final thoughts on this? Breaking free from the shackles of narcissism is the first step toward personal growth. Embrace a future where the pursuit of genuine connections and meaningful achievements takes precedence over the façade that a narcissist makes their life revolve around.
I wish you luck on your mission to outsmart a narcissist! Farewell.
On how to drive narcissists nuts and drunk on jealousy, the first tip is to not feed them the attention they desire. How do you make the narcissist come crawling back? Make them feel that you don’t need them. This will make their life difficult. Ignore them if you must. Talk to more attractive people and be happy in your own light.
Saying no, enforcing boundaries, and challenging this person are some of the tips on how to checkmate a narcissist by making them fear you. Holding them accountable, publicly exposing them, and going no-contact are other strategies to outsmart a narcissist. Remember, you can outwit them when a narcissist sees you have moved on from the fear you held in yourself.
One of the biggest triggers for them is criticism, as any hint of disapproval or negative feedback can send them into a tailspin. Another thing that really gets to them is being ignored or not receiving the attention they crave. Narcissists thrive on admiration and validation, so when they’re not the center of attention, it can drive them crazy. Lastly, exposing their flaws or failures can be a major blow to their fragile ego. So, if you want to ruffle a narcissist’s feathers, these are the buttons to push.
While narcissists may appear confident and self-assured on the surface, their excessive need for admiration and validation stems from their true self, which is full of deep-seated insecurities. Underneath their grandiose façade lies a fragile sense of self-worth that can easily be shattered. Criticism, especially when it exposes their flaws and challenges their inflated self-image, can be a major trigger for a narcissist.