When narcissists gaslight, manipulate and verbally abuse you, you might feel like there’s no real way to respond effectively. You might cry, scream at them, or just shut down completely – among a number of other painful alternatives.
While we always suggest going no contact with a toxic narcissist if possible, we are also well aware that it isn’t always possible. That’s why we suggest using the gray rock method to manage conflict with narcissists and to potentially shut a narcissist down in the midst of a narcissistic rage or gaslighting episode.
What is the Gray Rock Method?
Gray rock is a simple but highly effective way of dealing with narcissists. It means that you respond to the narcissist without emotion and as briefly, and factually as possible.
How do you “do” the Gray Rock Method?
You don’t give them any of your emotions when you use gray rock; instead, you keep it as boring as you can: monotone, detached and as vague as possible. Then, if the narcissist treats you badly, you simply ignore it. You go on as though they hadn’t reacted at all. If they act like they aren’t “getting” what you’re doing, keep up with it and ignore it. The same goes for what to do if they irritate or upset you – keep going and ignore their response.
That seems like it’s hard to do. What are your best tips for sticking to the gray rock method?
It’s very difficult to use the gray rock method at first. When you’re in the heat of the moment and the narcissist is intentionally trying to trigger you into a response, it can FEEL impossible. But if you’re prepared and you practice in advance, it can and does work. Here are a few tips to help you get through the hard parts of using gray rock.
- Start by learning how to recognize the attempts of the narcissist what they are – a pathetic way to agitate you into a confrontation. Learn how to ignore the trigger – or at least, to let the narcissist think you’ve ignored it. Don’t show any emotion!
- Try not to look the narcissist directly in the eyes when using the gray rock method. Instead, look at their forehead, nose or mouth. It takes the “sting” out of the insults, somehow.
- Be aware of your body. Your heart may race, you may shake and even sweat a little. Do your best to take slow, deep breaths and remember that if you can avoid reacting, you can stay in control!
- You’ll feel the need to defend yourself. DON’T. It will engage the narcissist in trying to prove you wrong. Instead, either don’t respond or say something simple like, “Interesting, tell me more.” It will shock the narcissist and they won’t know how to respond at first. In your mind, focus on staying calm and if you need to, go to your “happy place.”
- Remember that nothing the narcissist says should be taken at face value. Most of their insults are projection anyway.
- Take note of how textbook the narcissist’s behavior really is – and focus on the science of it during the actual attack. It can help to focus on the facts rather than the emotions.
- Remind yourself that the narcissist has a personality disorder that causes them to require certain reactions and emotions from you. This is called narcissistic supply and while it sustains the narcissist, it drains you. Choose to maintain a positive energy “bubble” around yourself and don’t allow the negative narcissist to penetrate it.
- Read more Gray Rock Tips from Coach Lise Colucci, right here.
After you’ve successfully used the gray rock method once, notice the power it makes you feel. This is because you’ve finally figured out how to outsmart the narcissist and their abusive ways. Be aware that it also means they’re going to try something else to keep you in control. But this is where you can throw in one last twist: continue to refuse to show any negative emotion around the narcissist, but give them positive attention when they treat you well. This will teach them that if they want your attention, they need to treat you with respect.
This video offers additional tips for sticking to the Gray Rock Method.
More Resources on Using the Gray Rock (Grey Rock) Method
- Gray Rock: Origin, Meaning and How to Use It Safely
- The Narcissistic Whirl Response to Gray Rock
- What to Do When Gray Rock Doesn’t Work
- Video Playlist on Gray Rock (Grey Rock)
How will the narcissist react to the Gray Rock Method?
Truthfully, there are a few possibilities. The narcissist may be confused or shocked into silence the first few times you use this method. In some cases, they will escalate their manipulation and verbal abuse in an attempt to get you to react. If you hold out, often, they become bored and walk away. They may also employ the narcissistic whirl. as depicted in this video.
Definition of the narcissistic whirl: A typical response by a narcissist when a victim turns the tables and uses gray rock in response to the narcissist’s attempt to gaslight and manipulate him/her.
Who invented the “Gray Rock” Method?
The “Gray Rock” method was so named by a person named Skylar in this post, written in 2012. In part, Skylar says the gray rock method is, “primarily a way of encouraging a narcissist, psychopath, stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you.”
Here’s a video where I share Skylar’s story.
Here’s a really thorough and helpful video playlist on the Gray Rock Method.