Regardless of whether your ex has actually been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or exhibits similar traits, you know how easily even everyday disagreements can escalate and how futile your attempts at rational discussion can seem. So, when it comes to complex issues such as divorce, child custody, child support or spousal support you may wonder if there is any hope for a mutually agreeable resolution. The answer is yes, especially with these tips from a Certified Divorce SpecialistTM on how to resolve disputes with a narcissist.
Resolving Disputes with a Narcissist
You likely know all too well how different arguing is with a narcissist: winning is paramount to them and their tactics typically include shifting blame, stonewalling, gaslighting and any other means they can think of to derail and confuse you. These tips can help you rise to the challenge more effectively:
- Don’t Try to Make them Take the Blame – Quite simply, they won’t do it – EVER. But even using words such as “You” or “I” can cause a negative reaction from your ex. Try to use “we” language instead to avoid right versus wrong or winner versus loser mentality in their mind.
- Avoid Taking the Bait – Although they will try (and try and try) to get you to sink to their level; by ignoring it you’ll disarm your ex. We’re not saying this will be easy, but do your best to be ambivalent and emotionally detached. To help, try deep breaths, get some space or take a moment to collect your thoughts before responding.
- Use Empathy to Your Advantage – By acknowledging how they feel and expressing your understanding (even if through gritted teeth) you can often deescalate the situation. At the same time, leave the focus on your ex instead of also discussing how you feel. Sadly, narcissists have no capacity for empathy themselves and you could inadvertently fuel the fire again.
- Ask Their Advice – Narcissists love to share their opinions so ask what they propose as the solution to your conflict and it could give you some insight into what your ex is trying to achieve. At the same time, you’re walking a fine line because they will take it personally if you rebuff their solution so definitely weigh the pros and cons of this strategy.
- Consider Mediation – There’s no reason to take this all on yourself and realistically, litigation puts you into an even more combative situation. On the other hand, working with a trained mediator, ideally experienced in this area, brings a neutral third party to the situation who can help you negotiate a mutually agreeable agreement that allows your ex to “save face.”
The Benefits of a Certified Divorce Specialist
Before starting Mediated Online Solutions with my partner, I spent 27 years as a New York attorney, half of that specializing in matrimonial and family law. But as a Certified Divorce Specialist, I’ve also received training in the customized communications skillset needed to successfully navigate high-conflict divorce cases.
What’s more, I’m an experienced mediator that strives to help clients save time, money and stress while preserving your privacy and leveling the playing field in a way that court litigation just can’t.
But often the biggest benefit with our services is the fact that they are 100 percent virtual. Not only does this give you more convenience and flexibility; when dealing with a narcissist ex, not having to be in the same room with them can also help de escalate the stress so you can keep your focus and emotions more in check.
For more information on online mediation services from a Certified Divorce Specialist, contact our experienced mediation team today to learn more.