A narcissist uses many manipulation methods to distract people from the truth about who they are, behaviour the narcissist should be ashamed of, their hurtful treatment of those around them, as the narcissist exploits others to get their needs met.
When you approach a narcissist to discuss something they don’t want to discuss, they can come at you with many different sentences that on their own make sense, yet don’t match the topic of conversation, or switches onto another topic, they communicate in a way that is confusing ￼to you, to distract you, leave you questioning more, doubting yourself, wondering what it was all about, this is what is more commonly known as the narcissist’s word salad.
Word salad is another form of narcissists gaslighting. By not directly denying reality, it’s used to confuse your reality, to change your emotional state, or your thought process. Word salad is when a narcissist might appear to be answering your questions while not taking responsibility for their behaviour. They seem to communicate with you without having an actual conversation with you, as no solution is found. When you bring it up again, they twist that they don’t want to keep going over the same thing, they don’t want to argue, they don’t have time for that again, you’re always bringing it up￼￼, you never let things drop, so the narcissist can avoid talking about very rational things that need discussing. At the same time, you’re left with endless problems and no solutions. Even when you try to sort it out for yourself, a narcissist will come at you, claiming you’ve made matters worse. If you mention you tried to talk to them, they’ll lie, deny, shame and blame.
How do narcissists word salad?
1. Talking in circles, when they keep repeating the topic they want to discuss and not what needs to be addressed, they keep bringing it back onto something amazing they did, or something you haven’t done.
2. Derailing, they have a selective memory, any mistakes they make are accidentally forgotten, never happened or your fault, anything kind they did, should be remembered forever. You should be eternally grateful, anything good you did, forgotten, ignored, ￼or they’ll take the credit for, any mistakes you make are never forgotten, they are exaggerated and brought up whenever they need to use it against you, a narcissist will derail the conversation from the intended topic onto something that works in their favour, either guilt-tripping you, or blaming you, so you start defending, explaining or justifying yourself to then.
3. Diversion, similar to derailing, derails the conversation onto a whole new topic. With diversion, they’re going to avoid talking about the topic at hand. They want to put the topic to one side, go around it, avoid it. ” You want to talk about this now. You know I’m about to leave, right.” then, when they know you’re busy, they’ll bring something random. up to make you feel obligated in talking to them.
4. Deflecting, when they want to change the topic of conversation away from what they have done and talk about what you have done, to antagonise you, counter-complaint blame or shame you, insult you, bait you into reacting to them bait you into defending yourself to them justifying yourself to them, so they can play the victim and gain sympathetic attention from you about the things they’ve done to you. Something like “ if you hadn’t. It’s always about you, isn’t it? You make everything so difficult look at how you’re acting.” go to them with facts and evidence, and they come at you with. “ you look through my things where is my privacy I thought I could trust you.”
5. Triangulation, another way of creating a diversion, by bringing someone else into the conversation. “ your mum thinks, my ex would, my ex never, your friend did, my friend did.” so you begin to judge yourself based on the lies a narcissist is telling you about someone else.
6. Change the subject when they can change the subject onto something you did. “What about last week when you?” or future fake to distract you. “Don’t worry, why don’t you look at holidays? What about houses?”
Within their word salad, they can mix all these tactics together until they get the desired outcome, or they fall silent on you. They can, lie, deny, deflect, project, interrupt you, talk over you, blame-shift, and then those passive-aggressive sulks.
Word salad often leads you into feelings of confusions, frustration, anger, intrigue, guilt, fear, resentment, anger, pain, disbelief, stress, irritability, emotional despair, exhaustion, making you more prone to becoming emotionally reactive, making it easier ￼￼for the narcissist to bait you into reacting, so they can move you away from the subject you approached, avoid taking any responsibility, and set the environment, so you react, as you know right from wrong, you’re left working harder to please them, you’re left apologising to them, full of doubts and ruminating about what just happened.
Narcissists use word salad as they feel entitled to manipulate those around them, with a lack of empathy for how it affects those around them, they’ll happily exploit people by whatever means possible to meet a need of their own, they believe they are special, superior, above others and they are arrogant enough to be unpleasantly proud of how they behave.
What can you do?
- No contact is always the best approach if not limited contract and grey rock.
- Remind yourself not to go for closure to those who enjoy opening up your wounds.
- Retreat, rethink and only respond if you need to do so, such as co-parenting, court orders.
- State your points and leave them to it stand in your truth.
- Don’t continue the conversation if they’re trying to take you away from the conversation.
- Don’t defend yourself to their projection, remember what they say about you says more about their character than it ever will yours.
- Remember, they like playing these games, more often than not playing these games to get you going, and once they’ve got you going, they feel smug, they feel happy, learn to step away from their games.
- You do not win with the narcissist by playing their games the more you play, the more they think game on, the way you beat a narcissist is by stepping away from the narcissist and no longer giving them the attention or the feeding them the attention that they believe they’re entitled to. ￼￼￼￼
Seven ways narcissist manipulate conversations.
Stop explaining yourself to a narcissist.
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2 thoughts on “The Narcissists Word Salad.”
“WORD SALAD”…. when I saw this, I laughed so hard because it’s the perfect way to describe conversations I’ve had with my recent ex. All of the things you described, are certainly tactics he used and I’ve experienced, and are pretty common narcissistic tactics (once you know what they are, of course). But there was one tactic he used which I had never really encountered before and seems to embody this term “word salad”. When I would inquire about something that he didn’t want to talk about, or felt uncomfortable talking about, he would respond in length with just a bunch of words that were pretty much all vague terms, not really targeting the question, or providing any kind of answer, and rarely even completing anything that even sounded like a full sentence, ha! And he was an intelligent man. I would have to pause and think “what exactly did he just say? It was a lot of words but I don’t think any of it really meant anything”. And I’d be left quite confused, wondering if I just wasn’t doing a very good job listening, or maybe I just don’t understand him, or I’m poor at communicating. After it happened a few times, I finally got the gist of it, hahaha, OH!!! This is his way of COMPLETELY avoiding the question, but making it seem like he might have answered it. I had termed it “word vomiting”, but I like your term “word salad” better. It’s less gross than mine :)) I’m also fond of the “pile of nonsense words”
Thank you for your wonderful information!