9 clever comebacks that instantly put a narcissist in their place

Narcissists can be tricky to handle. They have a knack for making every conversation about them, and they’re experts at twisting words to fit their narrative.

We’ve all been there – caught off guard by a narcissist’s self-centered comment or blatant disregard for others. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? But here’s the good news: you don’t have to let them get the best of you.

There are certain comebacks – clever, concise, and completely disarming – that can put a narcissist in their place.

In this article, I’m going to give you my 9 go-to phrases to use when dealing with a narcissist. They might seem simple, but trust me, they pack a punch.

1) “That’s one way to see it.”

Here’s a clever comeback that can help you regain control of the conversation: “That’s one way to see it.”

Narcissists are notorious for their one-sided view of situations. They believe their perspective is the only correct one and expect everyone else to conform to it.  

When you use this phrase, you’re acknowledging their viewpoint without agreeing or surrendering your own.

You’re essentially saying: “I hear your opinion, but there are other ways to look at this.”

It’s a civilway of standing your ground without escalating the situation.

2) “I see things differently.”

Narcissists are often oblivious to the fact that other people may have perspectives and opinions that differ from theirs. They believe their interpretation of events is the absolute truth.

Here’s a phrase I’ve found effective in these situations: “I see things differently.”

This comeback helped me maintain my sanity during a particularly challenging encounter with a narcissistic colleague. We were working on a project together, and she was adamant that her way was the only way to proceed. I found myself constantly being railroaded into her ideas, without any consideration for my input.

Finally, I decided to assert myself. The next time she bulldozed over my suggestion, I calmly responded, “I see things differently.”

Her reaction? A moment of stunned silence. Then, for the first time, she asked me to elaborate on my viewpoint. It was a small victory, but it felt empowering.

“I see things differently” is a simple phrase that communicates respect for the narcissist’s perspective while asserting your own. It’s not confrontational; it’s a statement of fact. And it can create an opening for dialogue where previously there was none.

3) “Let’s focus on the issue at hand.”

“Let’s focus on the issue at hand” is a comeback that can help you bring the conversation back on track when dealing with a narcissist.

This tactic is known as ‘red herring’ – a term derived from the practice of using a strong-smelling fish to throw hunting dogs off the scent of their prey. This phrase actually works pretty well on attention seekers.

Narcissists have an uncanny ability to steer conversations towards themselves or irrelevant tangents, often to deflect attention from the real issues. 

When you use this phrase, you’re essentially saying that you’re not going to be sidetracked by irrelevant details or self-serving distractions. It directs attention back to the issue that needs resolving, subtly reminding the narcissist that the conversation isn’t about them.

4) “I understand you feel strongly about this.”

Narcissists are known for their intense emotions and conviction in their beliefs. They tend to express their opinions strongly, often leaving little room for others to disagree.

When faced with such intensity, a good response can be: “I understand you feel strongly about this.”

It’s a polite way of diffusing tension and reminding them that while their feelings are valid, they don’t dictate the reality of the situation or the feelings of others.

5) “This isn’t about winning or losing.”

high conflict person 9 clever comebacks that instantly put a narcissist in their place

Narcissists often approach discussions and disagreements as a competition. It’s either their way or the highway.

The phrase “This isn’t about winning or losing.” can be a game-changer in such situations.

It’s a gentle reminder that the goal of a conversation isn’t to establish dominance, but to communicate, understand, and find common ground. This comeback can help de-escalate the competitive atmosphere that narcissists often create, redirecting the focus towards constructive conversation.

However, narcissists might resist this shift in dynamic at first. But by repeatedly emphasizing the cooperative nature of discussions, you stand a better chance of promoting healthier exchanges.

6) “I value our relationship more than this disagreement.”

Narcissists can often turn minor disagreements into major conflicts. That’s why they tend to suck at long-term relationships, per research

When they’re about to drag you into their drama, a heartfelt comeback can make all the difference: “I value our relationship more than this disagreement.”

This phrase isn’t just a comeback; it’s a reminder of what’s truly important – the relationship itself. It communicates that you’re not willing to let a disagreement destroy the bond between you.

It conveys that while you might not see eye-to-eye on the issue at hand, you still respect and value them as an individual and the relationship you share.

7) “I need some time to process this.”

Narcissists often dominate conversations, leaving little room for others to process their thoughts or express their feelings. This can be overwhelming, and it’s okay to step back and take a moment for yourself.

“I need some time to process this,” is a phrase I’ve found incredibly helpful in such situations.

I remember a lengthy discussion with a narcissistic friend where I felt bombarded with information and pressure to agree with his viewpoint. I felt cornered and unheard.

Using this phrase gave me the breathing space to collect my thoughts and prepare a more thoughtful response. It also communicated that I wasn’t going to be rushed into agreeing or making a decision.

8) “I am entitled to my feelings.”

Narcissists are infamous for dismissing other people’s emotions or belittling their experiences. They might try to dictate how you should feel or react in certain situations, disregarding your emotional autonomy.

Asserting, “I am entitled to my feelings,” in the face of a narcissist is like wielding a verbal superhero cape. It’s your personal declaration of emotional independence, a mic-drop moment that says, “Thanks but no thanks! I don’t need you to tell me how to emote.”

Keep in mind that nobody has the right to invalidate your feelings. So, the next time a narcissist tries to control how you should feel, stand your ground and tell them to back off. 

9) “We’ll have to agree to disagree.”

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just won’t be able to reach a consensus with a narcissist. 

In such scenarios, the most effective phrase might just be: “We’ll have to agree to disagree.”

This statement acknowledges the impasse without further fueling the conflict. It’s a respectful way of ending a fruitless debate and preserving your emotional energy.

After all, the right to disagree is the cornerstone of democracy. If a narcissist rejects that, it will only make them look like a dictator.  

Final thoughts: It’s about respect

Interactions with narcissists can be challenging, but remember, it’s not about winning an argument or proving a point. It’s about maintaining respect – for yourself and for the relationship.

These comebacks are tools that can help you navigate difficult conversations. They’re not magic words that will suddenly change a narcissist’s behavior. But they can empower you to stand your ground, assert your perspective, and maintain your emotional well-being.

At the end of the day, everyone deserves to be heard and validated in a conversation. And while it might be hard with a narcissist, it’s not impossible.

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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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