Good conversation is an art, a valuable form of communication that can be instructive, enlightening, creative, entertaining. In the midst of a great conversational flow, we feel energized and uplifted. We have joined forces with other human beings to create something of value in this particular moment. One on one conversations can be particularly rewarding. When both parties are free to express themselves honestly, there is a synergy that occurs. Often, secrets are revealed, mistakes are admitted, and creative ideas are expressed. The personal interaction of a good conversation expands our intellectual horizons. Habitual thought patterns are awakened through the input of another individual’s turn of mind. After a good conversation, we feel more expanded and often more hopeful. We are open to thinking in new ways. We may even feel more relaxed, more at peace.
Conversations with narcissists are another matter. Generally, they are one sided. There is no exit from the inevitable flow of self reference. I have stood, listening to a narcissist, speak nonstop about himself/herself for forty five or more minutes at a stretch. In the beginning there is the usual: “How are things going?” After you barely finish you response, the inevitable litany of self begins. From subject to subject the narcissist spins the details of his life. Everything is about him, regardless of his chosen subject matter. He sprinkles the details of the monologue with tidbits that indicate that he knows important people, has the means to travel extensively, is very intelligent, has friends of great influence.
Everyone he meets is important. Every investment he makes is a success. He is telling you that he knows all the right people, that he is highly successful, that his life is going swimmingly, and that he doesn’t make mistakes. His family, friends, and acquaintances are all part of this perfect conversational world he has created. Everyone he knows is a living reflection of his superiority. If you attempt to shift the topic, he hesitates for a microsecond, and returns to his favorite subject—himself.
High-level narcissists, those individuals who are exceedingly charming and very successful in the world, appear to be gifted at conversation. Their stories are entertaining. At times they zero in, treating you like the most important person in the room. Their laser beam attention on you is extraordinary and compelling. You feel the power of their attraction. Many people fall for this false focus. The clever high-level narcissist has decided that you have something to offer that he wants from you: your physical beauty or handsomeness, your business connections, your wealth, your extraordinary talent. He wants you to join his special club. He has decided how he can use you to expand his power base or increase his wealth and reach in the world.
Protect yourself from the narcissistic conversational trap by learning to make graceful exits from his endless litanies. Becoming informed at detecting the narcissistic personality and understanding how he operates will empower you. His constant self reference is a sure sign that beneath all the bravado and extraordinary achievements is an individual who unconsciously feels alone, empty, and incapable of genuine human contact.