How to Negotiate with a Narcissist: Winning the Battle

Welcome to the world of narcissism, where the word ‘I’ dominates every conversation. Narcissists are known to be self-centered, egocentric, and difficult to deal with. You may need to interact with a narcissist in different settings such as workplaces, relationships, or families. In this article, we will discuss some practical tips and strategies to negotiate with a narcissist successfully.

Understanding Narcissistic Behaviors

The first step to successfully negotiate with a narcissist is understanding their behavior patterns. Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a lack of empathy towards others. They may be excessively confident, charming, and manipulative. Recognizing these behaviors will help you devise a sound strategy to negotiate with them.

The Three Stages

It is important to know that a negotiation with a narcissist goes through three stages.

  • The idealization stage: In this stage, the narcissist will shower you with compliments, admiration, and attention. This stage creates a positive environment that makes you more vulnerable and open to negotiation.
  • The devaluation stage: In this stage, the narcissist will start criticizing, devaluating, and undermining you. The narcissist is more likely to use manipulative tactics to win the negotiation.
  • The abandonment stage: In this stage, the narcissist decides to terminate the negotiation or the relationship altogether. This stage usually occurs when the narcissist feels like he/she has lost the negotiation.

Preparing for the Negotiation

To increase your chances of success while negotiating with a narcissist, you need to prepare adequately. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

Understand Their Interests

Understanding what matters most to a narcissist can help you identify areas of mutual interest. Narcissists are motivated by self-gain and attention; therefore, identifying a common interest will help you build trust and rapport.

Choose the Right Venue

A narcissist’s environment has a significant impact on their behavior. When negotiating with a narcissist, choose a location where they feel in control and comfortable. For example, if you’re negotiating with a boss who’s a narcissist, conduct the conversation in their office or conference room.

Set Realistic Expectations

Be realistic about your expectations when negotiating with a narcissist. Narcissists do not respond well to criticism or failure, so setting realistic expectations helps avoid conflicts and frustrations.

Negotiation Techniques to Use with a Narcissist

When negotiating with a narcissist, it’s essential to be tactful and strategic. Here are some tips to consider:

Use the Power of Words

Words have power, and using trigger words such as ‘challenge,’ ‘unique,’ and ‘visionary’ can appeal to a narcissist’s ego. These words help the narcissist feel like they are in control and that their ideas and opinions matter.

Agree to Disagree

A narcissist may not be willing to concede anything. If you sense that the negotiation is going nowhere, agree to disagree. By admitting that a compromise is unlikely, it helps reduce tensions, and you avoid using aggressive language.

Use Flattery Cautiously

Narcissists respond well to flattery, but it is essential to be cautious when using it. Overusing flattery may lead to unrealistic expectations and create setbacks. Use it sparingly to keep the narcissist engaged but not to the extent that it becomes counterproductive.

What Not to Do When Negotiating with a Narcissist

Some actions can derail a successful negotiation with a narcissist. Here are some things to avoid:

Don’t Let Their Behavior Affect You

Narcissists tend to push your buttons and make you angry to gain control. If they succeed, the negotiation is over. The best approach is to remain calm, cool, and collected, even when the narcissist starts challenging you.

Avoid Being Defensive

Narcissists can be rude and insulting, always trying to undermine you or find fault with what you’re saying. Avoid becoming defensive, as it gives them even more control. Instead, show them respect and understanding.

Don’t Personalize the Attacks

Narcissists are known to attack people on a personal level. Do not let their insults define you, remember their behavior is not your fault. Instead, focus on resolving the issues at hand.


Negotiating with a narcissist can be challenging, but by understanding their behavior, preparing adequately, and using the right techniques, you can win the battle. Remember, it’s essential to stay composed, avoid being defensive or antagonistic, and, most importantly, have realistic expectations.


  • Can you negotiate with a narcissist?

    Yes, you can. Nevertheless, it’s essential to understand their behavior patterns and tendencies to create a successful negotiation.

  • What motivates a narcissist?

    Narcissists are motivated by self-gain and attention.

  • What should I avoid when negotiating with a narcissist?

    Avoid letting their behavior affect you, being personal, or becoming defensive when they attack you.


  • Simon, M. (2017). In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People. Branden Books.
  • Kaufman, S. B. (2016). How to Handle a Narcissist. Scientific American.
  • Rutledge, C. M. (2020). Negotiating with Narcissists. Harvard Business Review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *