Is the desire to communicate always a good thing?

10 Feb 2022

How important for you is the desire – even the need – to communicate? I am guessing it must be pretty important otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this now.  Because I am someone who uses a lot of words – carefully chosen words, I’d like to think – to get my thoughts and ideas across.

Today, I want to share a few thoughts about communication that I hope will benefit you.

Over the past weeks I have been even more focused on communication than I am normally am because I have been really quite unwell.

In fact, I was unwell enough to realise that I could not safely put my faith in my primary care doctor to make a correct diagnosis or pursue the right follow up options. That meant that I had to project manage my medical care – which I acknowledge is incredibly challenging when a person feels terrible. (Not to mention that it should not have to fall to an unwell individual to make decisions of that magnitude.)

Select the best course of action

In the event, I had to start to select what I felt was the best course of action, asking appropriate questions and awkward questions – all in a very pleasant tone of voice – then evaluate the answers for myself and enlist the right medical care.

The question running through my head through all of this was, “How can I best communicate to maintain rapport and ensure that I make the case for the prioritisation that I require?”

With help from my very good friend Dr Shoshana Garfield (whose expertise on Advocating for Yourself is included in my Break Free Membership) I got there.

All of that attests to the power of effective communication.

In fact, effective communication had been top of mind even before this happened because, over the past few weeks, because a lot of my work with my 1 on 1 clients has been on that specific topic: how could I help my clients to communicate effectively with narcissistic partners through the ending of their relationship?

What makes communication so hard with a Narcissist?

What habitually makes the communication at the end of a narcissistic relationship so problematic?

Three things:

1) Narcissists will make the end of their relationship with you as hard as they possibly can, because they want you to lose out every which way.

2) They have already trained you to walk in fear of their abuse and judgment of you.

3) The style of communication that you have with them.

Now, there is not much you can do about 1). But you surely can change 2) and especially 3).

Just before I sat down to write this, I was thinking about a new client of mine who – until she became my client – was being constantly harassed by her ex-husband.

She was being harassed by him for two reasons:

  • because it was a form of communication that gratified him and he knew he could get away with.
  • because she still felt the need to get him to see her point of view.

A fundamental discord that taught me nothing

That took me right back to one of the more inglorious discords I experienced with my Mr Nasty. Because he was such a wonderful and entitled man – and I was such a romantic and self-sacrificing mouse – he dragged me off to live on the other side of the world, right under the nose of his parents, The In-Laws From Hell.

I had never wanted to go and never warmed to that other country. I spent 16 long months profoundly depressed, while he messed up professionally and finally agreed – as a favor to me, allegedly – that we would return to my country.

To me that felt as though I had been rescued from drowning at the last minute.

He just had to tell his parents and felt that it was best that he did so alone.

So, off he went.

When he came back, I could, quite literally, smell the agitation on him.

It turned out that “Things Were Not That Simple”. His father had persuaded him (allegedly) that my feelings were not important. I was being histrionic (aka overreacting.) It would be stupid not to stay where we were for another 1-3 years.  We first needed to get some capital behind us (we had already done that). Then we could leave with the blessing and a golden handshake (allegedly) from the in-laws from hell.

Needless to say, that didn’t land too well with me.

In fact, it didn’t land well at all. However, I didn’t learn the essential lesson from it that a person who betrays you, out of hand, over something that really matters to you, does not care about you and cannot be trusted.

How I overlooked the lesson in favour of communication

Despite, an already considerable talent for denial, I was aware that I had experienced a fundamental betrayal at the hands of the entire Nasty clan.

So, how did I try to respond?

I’m sorry to say that I did that thing that we all do in an abusive relationship: I set out to persuade the husband back to our original course of action.

Did I succeed?

With the benefit of hindsight, I can say a definite “Yes” and “No”.

After a fair bit of hand-wringing, hair tearing and inconsolable weeping on my part, he did settle on us leaving, as planned, within the month.

But did I actually persuade him?

I now know that the smell of agitation he had on his return from spending time with his two nightmare parents was the giveaway.

You see, he couldn’t have been less scared of me. But he did live in terror – with good reason – of his parents eating him alive right, down to his Italian loafers.

So, he had agreed to their masterplan.

But then, on the 30 minute journey home, he realised that he had signed up to living another 1-3 years in their pocket for the sake of a small, extra sum of money that we didn’t even need.  (We were living in a time and a place where making significant money was easy.)

A Narcissist will always pursue their best interest

In reality, you can never persuade a Narcissist to do ANYTHING that they do not see as being in their best interest. It really is that simple.

However, you just don’t see that. Instead, you go through a narcissistic relationship fondly imagining that the other person will do what you want, hope and need them to do if only you can explain, persuade, negotiate or cajole well enough.

Unfortunately, that belief tends to outlive the relationship. So much so that you carry on reverting to this old pattern when you are obliged to deal with all the issues surrounding the division of the assets and the breakdown of the family.

How does it work for you?

Absolutely terribly.

Because they hear your attempts to be reasonable, civilised, fair-minded and amicable purely as weakness.

A Narcissist will use your best intentions against you

A Narcissist will give you no points for civilised behaviour. Rather, they will use your good intention and worthy sentiments against you.

When you appeal to their better nature, they hear what you are saying as,

“Please would you consider doing something that you have no wish to do – and won’t give you anything that you want – because it would work better for me?”

Why would they?

Their best outcome, which they pursue as robustly as possible, is to leave you with NOTHING.

They see every attempt at reasonableness on your part as weakness that they can and will exploit.

Uplevel your communication skills

Effective communication is all about using the style of communication best suited to getting you your optimal income.

In the case of my health problem, it took inordinate amounts of charm, coupled with chutzpah and persistence. In the case of a Narcissist, it requires totally uncompromising firmness.

You will probably need to uplevel your communication skills in order to communicate effectively with a Narcissist. You will need to make it very clear to them that your position is non-negotiable. Sure, they hate it but they, also, weirdly respect it – inasmuch as they are capable of respecting anything.

You don’t need to worry about their good opinion. You will never have that anyway. But it will help you if they understand that you have a very low threshold of tolerance for their mind games.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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