(An earlier version of this article was first published on the narcissism Daily Mirror and then at: www.thelovesafetynet.com.)
One of the most frustrating aspects of living, loving and/or working with a person with the Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is certainly dealing with their lack of accountability.
Anything that goes wrong is always someone else’s fault. No matter how logically you argue, if they have to swear the grass is blue and sky is green, they will continue to twist and turn their way out of owning up to any responsibility.
No wonder some experts feel wise proclaiming that holding a narcissist accountable is impossible.
An easy problem to tackle this isn’t, but today I will share what I have learned first hand.
Part of the answer is that when you want to hold sway with someone (not only a person with narcissistic tendencies) the equation works something like this;
The more positive the connection between you = the more likely they will be to listen.
As narcissistic people hate it when anyone tries to get them to admit to their mistakes or shortcomings, unless you have a some rapport with them it is probably better you don’t even try.“
This doesn’t mean you need to give in to their bad behaviour. Instead of attempting to hold this person accountable, consider making them face the consequences of their mistakes!
Get on the Same Level
No matter how superior you may feel your position to be, talking down to a person is rarely persuasive.
So rather than you playing judge and jury (or mother superior) instead try some humility with a dash of grit . . .
I don’t know how to sort out our finances and can’t figure out where our money is going and so I have opened a separate bank account and hired an accountant to come in and see if they can sort out the mess.”
I am worried about you, but I don’t know how to help you (with your porn addiction) and am scared it is hurting our sex life and putting our marriage at risk. So unless you’ve got some ideas – I don’t know what to do except to talk to our doctor and see if they can help.”
I can’t be late for work again today and so I am sorry I can’t drop you off.”
I don’t know how to handle you when you get so angry with me, and so from now on I am going to need to get someone who knows know how to handle angry people (the police?) here to come and talk to you when you lose your temper. I don’t want to get you in trouble, I just don’t know what else to do.”
Or there may be situations where there is nothing to be said – you simply need to stop protecting them.
A narcissistic person will most probably still get angry when you use these kind of scripts, so use your own judgement and play this carefully. These type of conversations are usually safer held in public places, such as a park or restaurant, and you need to make sure the consequences are not a bluff!
They won’t like what you are saying, but if you show genuine concern for them and let somebody else play the bad guy, you can keep your connection while at the same time making them face the consequences of their own acts.
If your warning has no effect, then step out of the way and let life teach the lesson they have coming!
Better Scripts for ‘Next Time’
If you are trying to hold a person accountable for events that have happened in the past – I suggest you make the decision to forget it instead.
If you didn’t know how to set a boundary back then, rubbing a person’s face in it now is not going to do anything but make them resent you.
If they owe you money, hire a debt collector (if you need to) and step away from the adversarial role. Otherwise be kind to yourself by forgiving them, but make sure you are prepared – with better scripts – next time.
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Psychology Today – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201308/narcissists-are-not-accountable (They copied the image from my original post!)