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Interacting with a narcissist can be challenging, especially when it comes to communication. Narcissistic individuals often have a fragile ego, a strong need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, which can make certain words or phrases particularly triggering for them. Here are 12 words or phrases you should avoid when speaking with a narcissist to maintain a more harmonious interaction.


This simple negation can be perceived as a direct challenge to a narcissist’s authority or decision-making, often leading to defensive or aggressive reactions.


Any form of criticism, even if constructive, can be interpreted as a personal attack and may provoke a disproportionate response.

Remember, maintaining your mental well-being is crucial when interacting with a narcissist. If you find yourself struggling, consider resources like Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed for more insights and strategies. Engaging with mental health professionals can also provide support and guidance in handling these complex relationships.


Referring to a narcissist’s actions or decisions as failures can deeply wound their ego and provoke hostility or denial.

“Sorry, but…”

Apologizing and then adding a ‘but’ can come off as insincere and may be seen as undermining their perspective or feelings.


Accusing a narcissist of lying challenges their sense of reality and truth, potentially leading to conflict and denial.

The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family” by Eleanor D. Payson This book offers a unique perspective on understanding narcissistic behavior, particularly in personal relationships and workplaces. It provides practical advice on coping with and setting boundaries in relationships with narcissistic individuals.


Suggesting that a narcissist needs help, whether it’s professional or personal, can be interpreted as an insinuation of weakness or incompetence.


Narcissists often struggle with the idea of compromise, as it can imply a need for mutual respect and equality in a relationship.

“I Disagree”

Direct disagreement can be perceived as a challenge to their authority or intellect.

“You Don’t Understand”

This phrase can be interpreted as patronizing or demeaning, potentially triggering defensiveness.


Suggesting that a narcissist should take responsibility, particularly for a negative outcome, can provoke a defensive reaction.

Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People” by Jackson MacKenzie This book is a resource for anyone recovering from the emotional trauma of a relationship with a narcissist, sociopath, or other toxic individual. It provides guidance on healing and establishing healthy boundaries to protect oneself from future abuse.


Narcissists often believe they are inherently fair and just, so questioning this can trigger denial or aggression.


Discussing emotions, especially in a way that suggests a narcissist lacks empathy, can be a sensitive topic that may lead to conflict.

Navigating Communication with a Narcissist

When communicating with a narcissist, it’s important to tread carefully and be mindful of their sensitivities. Avoiding these 12 words or phrases is a starting point. Instead, focus on clear, direct, and non-confrontational language. It’s also crucial to set boundaries and not compromise your own values and mental health in the process.

Remember, dealing with a narcissist can be challenging, and it’s often helpful to seek support from mental health professionals or support groups if you find yourself struggling in such a relationship.