Have you ever spoken with someone who responded to whatever you said by dismissing it? Narcissists brush aside, negate, or deprecate what others say instead of truly listening.
There are 2 tip-offs that give this way:
- The word “but”: This deletes whatever came before — “But a better way to look at it is…”
- Voice tone: If the response sounds irritated or deprecating, that’s the sound of unwillingness to listen to what’s valid in what you just said.
You are especially likely to trigger a narcissistic person’s message-deafness if your comment differs from the narcissist’s viewpoint. Narcissistic folks hear the words but block out the meaning, the message of the words they are hearing.
Why do therapists tend to miss the poor listening habits when they are assessing narcissism?
People with narcissistic tendencies do tend to listen to someone they see as higher in power than themselves. If those with narcissistic habits respect their therapist, their listening can appear to their therapist to be quite normal.
If the therapist, by contrast, were to see that same client interacting with his or her spouse or employees, the listening patterns would most likely be glaringly different — dismissive, ignoring altogether, minimizing the importance of the point that the spouse or employee just made, disagreeing with it, and pointing out what was wrong with it.