Here's the "Gray Rock" method for making narcissists go away

I like narcissists who are better than me, but I have yet to meet one… :innocent:

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I found this article came up short by way of good examples. A great resource for gray rock behavior is the Chump Lady site. While the site primarily focuses on dealing with cheating partners, there are heaping helpings of advice for dealing with narcissist partners (cheating is in the narcissist playbook). Advice like “‘No’ is a complete sentence,” and use BIFF “Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm.”

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I’ve been using this method for years to politely escape people who talk just because they can.

Don’t reward them. Just be boring, don’t say or do anything that might prolong their interest, and they will drift off to find a more rewarding target.

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I guess this is the key concept I was missing.

Make them believe they need to cut you out!

I had to go full no-contact (and resulting in professional and social losses just before the pandemic), and in this case I’m not sure if there was an alternative to this. I was just too good of a source of feed for them up until my awakening to the abuse.

They noticed the change, and began pressing my personal buttons to try to make me flame out in public. I concluded they were too dangerous to remain near.

I think narcissistic abuse is hard to understand for people who have not experienced it, and the abusers look so charmingly innocent to everyone except their targets.

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Dead silence and a raised eyebrow works, especially when you walk away or dig into some paperwork immediately afterward. It’s really confusing for them to not have obvious feedback or pushback. They may become angry but just repeat your response.

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So, this is a common personality type for a certain class of user one often encounters as a moderator on a forum.

It appears with two common traits:

  • the first is a user who believes they deserve the right to have their say without consequences from other members (i.e., they want to post their replies without criticism from others) or
  • the second type, where the user, if flagged, cannot comprehend the idea that they are not in control of the forum itself, demanding to be a part of the moderation process, to confront their accusers, to appeal the decision, and to exercise control over all aspects of the moderation against them.

The first type is mostly harmless - they will usually complain about being persecuted or censored (or cancelled) for expressing their opinion, and either become upset at moderators for not defending their right to have their reply stand unchallenged, or leave the forum, citing an “echo chamber” or the like.

The second type, on the other hand, is exactly the sort of person that “Gray Rocking” would be effective against. They tend to cause an explosion of work for moderators - trying to drum up support for their persecution by either appealing above/beyond the moderation team or hoping that others will apply the needed pressure to do so. In my experience, the users involved can’t imagine that they are not welcome or that they have acted poorly, or that they in any way do not deserve the right to a free platform and the attention that it provides, and treat the moderation as a declaration of war.

For that second type of person, “grey rocking” is often the only recourse - engaging further creates more drama, and doing nothing at all ratchets up the desire to keep pushing in the hope that something will give. If you can instead point out how irrelevant and unimportant the whole experience is to everyone involved, that will usually have the narcissist give up out of boredom, as suggesting in this article.

It’s fun being a moderator, let me tell you!

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Thanks, that puts the article into really useful context in terms of the bbs.
I’m still giving a pass on the aforementioned family members, but I’ll try to practice these tactics when we see this type of behavior here.

ETA: just read the linked article from the post I’m replying to and…whaaat? Yeah, sure makes the point that moderating is not fun. Thank you for keeping this place cool.
And also, heads up @cannibalpeas , did you know you’re a special kind of famous? :wink:

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This has been very effectively deployed by my wife toward her mother and she’s the worst narcissist I know. When my FIL was on the sort of steepest part of decline of Alzheimers – when you could see new symptoms by the day or at least the week – she couldn’t handle it and put him in memory care and took a trip to France for 11 days. When she came back she wanted to talk all about her trip and my wife refused to engage b/c she was pissed. It was a sort of combination of grey rocking and gaslighting.

“I went to Mont St Michel, do you want to see the pictures?”
“No.”
“And the Bayeux Tapestry, do you remember when we took you and your brother in 1985?”
“No. Don’t remember that.”
etc

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Narcissists are very often charming, especially to people outside the household (if you are cursed with a narcissistic family member). My therapist used to say “for export only”.

Gray rocking can work, because you become boring, and not fun to needle anymore, so they seek another target. Other people have mentioned that you can turn the tables and start talking about really boring things, or even (and this would be masterclass), keep turning the conversation back to yourself and try to take the spotlight, which would be unforgivable.

And sometimes, like you’ve done, you have to go no contact.

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ignoring people is my talent

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Right? Christ, what an asshole that person is. “Narcissist” really does seem to fit too. :flushed:

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Seems a bit cruel to me.

It’s intended for use against hostile subjects resistant to more polite approaches.

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A family member with acknowledged mental issues has swung between this behavior and being deeply concerned for the world and I think more empathetic than I am. At last check (I have stopped asking) they had decided they didn’t need their meds any more and this led to a three year rollercoaster. Now, they have a job and living situation that makes them happy, they are in a position that requires them to deal compassionately with many people, they have a good “same page” vibe with their boss and/or coworker and I think are being challenged to learn a lot. I sincerely hope that all of these circumstances are helping to reinforce that and kinda lock the pendulum if that’s what we had been experiencing with them. They are mid 20’s with no college degree. They had done some horrible things while in a poorer state of mental health and much of the extended family each in their own way reached out, helped and then had to draw a line. So this situation only a few months in now may be the real foundation for future growth in a good direction.

I this gray rock approach is right. I’d seen them trying to exploit/leverage each person’s own point of passion and drive to get them to try to do stuff only for them. So I was a bit concerned when they were looking to move a few blocks from my home. I did not turn a cold shoulder per se. I’m focused on old friendships and people who or are doing something beyond themselves - that’s who I gravitate towards. But I let that conversation sit and go nowhere, and they are definitely in a better spot now than they would have been near me. I really hope it sticks and have become more encouraging and am also striving to be a better listener. They are family and we share what was an absolutely horrible matriarch in our bloodline - a la @ClutchLinkey 's comment.

I was going to give an illustration on each case above, and realize while the one episode is shockingly dark and the other is shockingly dark comedy, they don’t help other than to say “Yup. Seen it.”

It’s about addressing years-long patterns of micro-aggressions and I think the last thing you do when the person hasn’t heard you or the people closest to them asking them to stop and to get help. It could bring about a pause and some self reflection. And if it doesn’t, you have still set yourself free.

@orenwolf Good points. Thanks for being a moderator.

I can feel this changing in society. Forcing people to be forever bound to their toxic family is being broadly rejected as unhealthy. An NPR presenter got it right for mother’s day this year by telling listeners that (paraphrasing) if you are estranged or not in a place to celebrate your own mother, know that you are loved.

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Are you referring to the LP blogger guy who went on a rant after being modded here? Yeah, I saw that and mentioned it in general moderation topic, but it was agreed that more discussion was just feeding the troll. I, however come out smelling like roses! :wink:

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But what if you’re the type of person who deflects any criticism of yourself by labeling everyone else as a “narcissist”?

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Online forums like this one are the first thing that came to mind when reading this post - the internet seems to draw narcissists like flies to honey (or to shit, depending on which site it is.)

I recently took the time to talk to one while he was in the midst of spiraling out, but before he got himself banned, in an attempt to better understand a skewed mentality that is so foreign to mine.

During the entire exchange, he couldn’t stop blaming everyone but himself; he insisted it’s the entire community that has ‘changed for the worst’, that the person whom he verbally attacked was a troll because they dared to disagree with his opinion in a snarky manner, and basically ignored the fact that his own words and actions were problematic.

It was like talking to a spoiled five-year-old with an above average vocabulary.

That second example which you graciously provided is some petty-ass butthurt on a major scale; I cannot fathom the sheer amount self absorption it must take to genuinely think that other people absolutely must listen to and pay attention to them, even if they break the rules and act like jerks.

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Well then in that case if you manage to make everyone else go away and no one is left you win a big prize at the end!

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