Today, we are going to talk about the one-sided phone calls we’ve all experienced with narcissists and how they use this tactic to manipulate you, manipulate others and to elicit new sources of narcissistic supply.
One of my coaching clients asked me today if a “one-sided phone conversation” was a commonly used narcissistic abuse/manipulation tactic – and with her permission, I am sharing part of what she said to me about it.
In part, she said: When (the narcissist) calls from work..(if he decides to) out of no where he will say stuff like, “What is wrong with you?” or “Why are you starting a fight?” or “Why are u being a bitch, why are u doing this, you just like to fight…etc.” Is this something everyone else in this situation has had to deal with?
My answer? Oh yes indeed, and here’s what happens.
Picture this. Your narcissist is standing in front of a room full of co-workers or friends, and you call him/her about something you need to ask him/her or info you need to pass along.
As the phone rings, he or she groans and says to the people in the room, “Oh GOD! Not this again…”
Begrudgingly picking up the phone, he/she says, “Hello?” ever so sweetly.
You say hi and say whatever you have to say – and before you know it, the narcissist is saying strange things – things that don’t make logical sense in the conversation and that don’t seem to be responses to what you’re saying.
Next thing you know, the narc seems enraged or offended, and is saying stuff like, “You’re crazy!” Or “Geez, you’re so paranoid/controlling/bitchy/lazy/desperate/etc.” And the more you try to convince the narc that you’re really not trying to offend him/her and that you just wanted to see if they’d stop by the store and grab a gallon of milk on the way home (or whatever), the more he/she seems to ramp up the bullshit.
Suddenly, you hear him/her tell you “I’ve had enough! Don’t talk to me. I don’t think I’m coming home tonight,” or whatever version of that seems to hurt you the most, and then the phone goes dead.
So where does this leave you? Hanging by a proverbial thread, in most cases.
Now you’re confused – you’ve just been gaslighted. You wonder if you’re the crazy one – AND, on top of that, you realize that conversation just happened in front of other people, who are now judging you based on ONE SIDE of a really strange conversation that has left you completely spinning and lost.
See what just happened there? You got “narc’d” so to speak – the narcissist pretended that you were a crazy, awful or otherwise unsavory person, thereby not only cementing his/her position that YOU are the problem in your relationship with the people around him – but also, you’ve been used to elicit additional sources of narcissistic supply.
Now, the people who heard that conversation will begin to feel sorry for the narc, and in some cases, will use this as an opportunity to attempt to get closer to him or her. And of course the narc knows it – and that’s exactly the reason he or she did it – in order to get the attention and pseudo-validation he or she requires every single second of every single day.
And what can you do about it? You’re stuck with this now-corroded self image that the narc keeps putting on you to his “flying monkeys” and so you know that no matter what you say or do, it can be interpreted to highlight or validate the narc’s lies about you.
So the only thing you can do in this case is:
1. Avoid all phone calls with the narc unless absolutely necessary and
2. When or if you do have to get on the phone, stay calm, keep it quick and don’t indulge the shit.
You might also consider texting instead – and one client I know even records the calls. Who can blame her?
Okay, now we’re going to talk about what else you could do, if you wanted, to expose the narcissist to the people around him or her – if you really feel like you want to do that. TO be fair, the best option is really to just NOT engage the narc, to move on and to go no contact. But, failing that…here’s some stuff you might wanna know. Check out this video.