What Is the Grey Rock Method?

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS
Updated on February 21, 2021

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.

grey rock

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.

How Do I Use the Grey Rock Method?

Disengage

The first rule is to disengage yourself. You gain the upper hand by recognizing that when someone says hurtful or inflammatory things about you—it’s to control you and get a reaction. When using the grey rock method, rather than become defensive, you would simply become nonreactive. Keep your face neutral, your tone bland, and your responses vague. By avoiding eye contact and giving noncommittal responses like “meh” or “mm-hmm,” you become an incredibly boring target. No matter what you actually feel, stay focused on preserving your peace and disengaging from damaging interactions.

Stay distracted

Another helpful technique when using the grey rock method is to remain distracted. You can try carrying a book, using your phone, or simply keeping your mind focused on your favorite person or pet. This not only helps create some emotional distance, but can also make it easier to weather the storm if the person escalates their attempts to engage you by saying cruel or hurtful things. It can be difficult not to defend yourself when you feel attacked, but ultimately, you’ll minimize the damage by not engaging. Emotional detachment serves to undermine a narcissist’s attempts to lure and manipulate, causing them to grow uninterested and bored.

Keep it brief

Whenever you can, keep your interactions brief and limited. This means that you shouldn’t share too much about your life, and your responses should be short. You are protecting yourself by avoiding unhealthy behaviors. Use one-word answers and focus on boring mundane topics. Avoid revealing anything good or bad about your life. You should also avoid asking the other person about their life. In general, keep your opinions on matters to a minimum, use brief and nonverbal responses, be aloof and unengaged.

Don’t tell them what you’re doing

Never reveal to the person that you are using the grey rock method. The goal of grey rocking is to become an undesired target to the other person. If they know that you’re attempting to make yourself seem boring on purpose, they can use this information to further manipulate and control you.

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.

Risks of the grey rock method

When done well, grey rocking will create distance between you and the other person. This may be a painful experience. Furthermore, grey rocking requires you to suppress your needs for love, validation, and attention. Make sure you continue to have healthy outlets in your other relationships to fulfill these needs for you. You can always talk to a counselor about dealing with difficult relationships when grey rocking is not an ideal solution.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with relationships characterized by manipulation, gaslighting, and drama can leave you feeling emotionally drained. Using the grey rock method deprives emotionally abusive people of the drama they crave and alleviates you from unhealthy engagements. Cutting off toxic relationships is always ideal but using the grey rock method can preserve you from emotional harm when interactions are necessary.

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS

Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for a Community YMCA. 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.

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