When negotiating with a narcissist, you are definitely going to need leverage. It’s important to keep in mind that narcissists will always have a plan. That plan will always be to take you down, smear you, and make you miserable. They gain what we call “narcissistic supply” from doing this. A narcissistic supply is anything that feeds a narcissist’s ego. It can be things that are generally recognized to feed people’s egos such as money, compliments, and prestige. But they also get supply from more dark and sinister actions such as invoking fear, using intimidation tactics, or jerking people around. If leverage is not a part of your overall strategy, you will be sunk. You will constantly feel like you are having to defend yourself. Without leverage, you will feel like the narcissist is always winning, and worse: that you are always losing. You need leverage to have even a chance at being on the offensive rather than the defensive.
Regardless of the situation – whether it’s a divorce, custody battle, or business setting – leverage is the one thing that you are absolutely going to need in order to gain an advantage over the narcissist you are dealing with.
Tips on Negotiating with a Narcissist
As a divorce attorney, nearly every person that I have worked with has said that they do not want to fight. Of course, no reasonable person actually wants to fight. Fighting means spending money on attorney’s fees and spending energy best exerted elsewhere. Fighting means more heartbreak, not moving on, and getting stuck in the toxic relationship even long after you decided you wanted out. Reasonable people want to come up with an agreement in a mutually respectful way, and settle for what’s fair, equitable, and just. Narcissists are not reasonable people. Narcissists want to fight. For narcissists, fighting means getting supply from you by dragging you through the dirt. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, you need leverage if you truly do not want to fight. You’ll probably need to use leverage just to get on an equal playing field with the narcissist because of the smearing and devaluing they have already done.
It’s important to remember that one of the ways that narcissists get narcissistic supply is through devaluing. In negotiation, getting narcissistic supply from you is actually winning for the narcissist. For reasonable people, winning is usually just getting what’s fair. If you want to get back at the narcissist and take control of the negotiation, then building leverage is the key to doing that.
For those of you that have been traumatized by a narcissist, you have probably been told you’re selfish, that there’s something wrong with you, or that you don’t deserve anything. You might have even begun to see yourself in the same light. If this is you, you might be thinking to yourself:
“I don’t want to fight.”
“Where am I going with this?”
“What do I even want?”
“Is it even worth it?
“There’s no way I could win.”
“I just want to be done.”
I am here to tell you that above all else, you deserve to have a fair result. You deserve everything that you are entitled to under the law. You quite possibly deserve more than that for all of the pain and suffering you’ve endured. So, start telling yourself these things. Start gathering leverage so that you can begin to unlearn all of the things the narcissist has taught you and start anew.
What Is Leverage?
Leverage is the thing that’s going to motivate and incentivize the narcissist to come to the negotiation table with you. Leverage can be in the form of all different kinds of things. It could be the secrets that they have, the secrets that others have, evidence of their crimes, or evidence of their lies. Leverage isn’t just one thing. To truly defeat a narcissist, it is best to have lots of different kinds of leverage. Leverage is used as a way to ethically manipulate the manipulator into getting what you want and what you deserve.
How to Get Leverage when Negotiating with a Narcissist?
When gathering leverage, you are going to want to look at all of the things that they get narcissistic supply from. Once you know what their forms of supply are, you will know what exactly it is that they are going to go any lengths to get and/or to keep. If the narcissist gets their supply from money, a fancy car, or a fancy house, anything that jeopardizes their access to this will be a part of your leverage. If the narcissist gets their supply from devaluing you, anything that jeopardizes their ability to do this will be a part of your leverage. In a court setting, narcissists often get their supply from ignoring court orders and refusing to give discovery. So, anything that might interfere with them doing this, will be your supply.
Figuring out what source of supply you could potentially threaten to take away from them will be a key component in gaining leverage and thus winning any negotiation with a narcissist. Gaining leverage when negotiating with a narcissist is the only way to come out unscathed and actually get what you want.