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How to Successfully Negotiate with Narcissists per Rebecca Zung, Ep #231

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What is a narcissist? How do you negotiate with someone who’s a narcissist? Can you negotiate with a narcissist? Rebecca Zung—an expert on negotiating with narcissists—shares a simple formula that can help you control the negotiation process to get to a desirable outcome. Don’t miss this fascinating episode of Negotiations Ninja!


Outline of This Episode

  • [1:34] Who is Rebecca Zung?
  • [3:27] What is a narcissist?
  • [6:30] How to know you’re dealing with a narcissist
  • [8:00] How to change your negotiation strategy
  • [13:13] Rebecca’s S.L.A.Y. Program
  • [21:06] How to get help with your negotiation

What narcissism boils down to

According to Rebecca, a diagnosed narcissist (with Narcissistic Personality Disorder) exhibits the seven traits outlined in the DSM-5 (1% of the population). A few of those traits include magical thinking, expectations of special behavior, no boundaries, etc. But Rebecca distills narcissism down into two characteristics:

  1. They have no inner sense of value, so they extrapolate it from other people or situations through compliments, adulation, money, prestige, etc. Or, they get it from degrading, devaluing, controlling, and intimidating other people.
  2. They do not empathize with others. Narcissism is a continuum. As a narcissist gets further down the path, they feel more like they don’t have value and care less about other people.

Rebecca wrote the book “Negotiate Like You M.A.T.T.E.R.” because all people want to feel seen, heard, and know that they matter. It’s part of being human—it’s not narcissistic.

How to know you’re dealing with a narcissist

Rebecca believes that you’ll inherently know when you’re dealing with a narcissist, especially if they’re toward the grandiose end of the spectrum. If they feel that you’re not “for” them, you’ll know. How? If you’re against them, you become public enemy #1. They will do whatever they need to take you down—including fighting dirty.

Nothing is too low for a narcissist unless they think they’ll get caught. Malignant narcissists don’t care if they get caught, grandiose narcissists believe they can get away with it, and covert narcissists tend to be passive-aggressive. Their whole purpose in life is to take you down. There’s no hiding a narcissist.

How to change your negotiation strategy

If you’re dealing with a narcissist, how do you change your approach in a negotiation?

In a normal negotiation—assuming that you’re dealing with a “reasonably prudent person”—you are looking to come to a mutually beneficial resolution. That’s how normal people think. But Rebecca points out that narcissists are looking for narcissistic supply. They need to “feed” their desire for adulation, recognition, praise, etc. If you don’t pour yourself into them, they’ll make your life miserable.

They’ll lie about you, move goalposts, and use the court system as a sword. Even if you agree to something, they’ll revise it or rescind it. They’re getting narcissistic supply from controlling you and jerking you around. They think they’re getting you to respect them because you’re afraid of them. They aren’t looking for a resolution because they’ll lose their supply.

You can’t think that there’s anything you can give them to make them happy. It’s a fundamental flaw in thinking that you can’t embrace. You’re looking for resolution—but there’s nothing you can give them. Well, almost nothing. Listen to the whole episode to hear Rebecca share the ingenious way to negotiate with narcissists.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Rebecca Zung

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