A narcissist is a person who shows a disproportionate interest in themselves. They have a strong desire to be admired by others, strive for attention, and have difficulty enduring criticism or setbacks. Narcissists tend to be grandiose, suspicious, and cynical. They are commonly conceited, scheming, and controlling of others. Being related to, working for, or being in a relationship with a narcissist is an extremely challenging predicament. Terminating contact, distancing, and getting out of a relationship with a narcissist is always ideal, but is not always a practical option. When contact with a narcissist cannot be terminated, the grey rock method can be a valid alternative to manage relations.
A narcissist needs to surround themselves with individuals who fascinate them and who keep them entertained at all times. A narcissist needs to have complete control over others and will use manipulative tendencies to get what they want. They require those in their lives to shower them with attention, reverence, and admiration. The grey rock method is a technique that removes the fascination and entertainment from a narcissist’s life.
The grey rock method is a practice where an individual becomes emotionally non-responsive, boring, and virtually acts like a rock. Emotional detachment serves to undermine a narcissist’s attempts to lure and manipulate, causing them to grow uninterested and bored. The grey rock method takes away what the narcissist needs and desires most–attention.
In order to implement the grey rock method, a person needs to minimize conversations and verbal exchanges as much as they can. While interactions should always be avoided when possible, it is important to refrain from ignoring a narcissist. Instead, an individual should reply with minimal and short responses to limit further conversation. Conversations should center on monotonous or boring topics and a person should attempt to provide one word answers without elaboration or opinion. If a narcissist attempts to bait, a person can utilize nonverbal responses such as nodding and smiling to avoid further engagement.
It is important that a person using the grey rock method never provide any details regarding their personal life to cut off the potential of a narcissist using any of the information to manipulate or lure. It is critical that an individual refrain from letting a narcissist know that they are doing well without them, as the narcissist will become furious and see this as a challenge. A person must refrain from asking a narcissist questions, as it will give a narcissist ample opportunity to highlight their accomplishments while being demeaning and disparaging in the process.
A person should only respond with facts whenever possible, as facts are difficult to challenge or argue. An individual using the grey rock method should stay away from discussing the past, as old arguments can be resurrected and blame can be reassigned. If this occurs, accepting blame and responsibility can be a tactic to further diffuse conversation, even if this is not the way that one truly feels.
Although effective, the grey rock method can be frustrating to implement, especially when one has to suppress their true thoughts and opinions. However, acting like a rock and being emotionally non-responsive will bore a narcissist and cause them to quickly lose attention. Instead of going without attention and admiration, a narcissist will be forced to find it elsewhere.
It is important to note that the goal of the grey rock method is to cause a narcissist to lose interest when having no contact is not a feasible option. In addition, the grey rock method can be utilized with individuals who possess other personality disorders, such as those with antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder, or with others who are abusive or have sinister intentions.
Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.