Can You Negotiate With a Narcissist and Succeed?
Learn the tools you need and the preparation you should undertaketo negotiate with the narcissist
The question is can you negotiate with a narcissist? The answer is yes; you can negotiate with the narcissist and be successful at doing it.
Negotiating with a narcissist is different from negotiating with a reasonable person. You must have certain tools at your disposal to negotiate with the narcissist. Your preparation and goals are different.
Everything in this article is about negotiating in a California divorce case. We will take you through negotiations with the narcissist and help you understand tools and preparation. The first step to any journey requires you to see the road signs. Here is the first one when you enter a negotiation with a narcissist.
How can you negotiate with the narcissist in a divorce case?
Some divorce cases are simple. This is especially true with short-term marriages without children and minimal assets. Some divorce cases are complex and these include children, long-term marriages and significant assets. You then have everything in the middle of these two extremes.
How you negotiate with the narcissist depends on the complexity of the divorce. That is because every negotiation with the narcissist must have certain tools, preparation and goals and the more complex the negotiations, the more complex these become.
For this article, we will go through the tools and preparation that apply to every kind of negotiation with the narcissist.
You must possess the right tools during the divorce when negotiating with a narcissist
You will need the following tools. They each require you to calm your mind, focus it and rise above the instability the narcissist wants and expects from you.
1. Emotional stability when negotiating with a narcissist
You cannot negotiate with the narcissist through your emotions. Narcissists feed on your emotional state, especially if they know you well. They use it as a weapon against you.
Intimidation, deception and manipulation are the narcissist's tools.
Your emotional stability requires you to treat all the financial aspects of the divorce like a business transaction. It also requires you when negotiating with the narcissist to treat the child custody issues with a focus on the children's best interest and particular attention on the law.
This last issue is particularly important because narcissists love using children as leverage in negotiations. Your education on California child custody laws is critical to your set of tools. That brings us to the second tool.
Read our guide on California child custody laws
2. Knowledge of the law when negotiating with a narcissist
You must know the law and you must arm yourself with it throughout the entire negotiations.
If your divorce involves the house, you must know how California family law treats residences and how a family law judge divides property or orders a buyout.
Getting an order to sell the house
If your divorce involves spousal support, you must educate yourself on the subject and know how the court awards spousal support and why.
Learn about California alimony laws
Every area of family law is an area you must take the time to learn.
Of course, your attorney should educate you on the divorce process and on divorce laws. That is why you pay him or her. However, unfortunately, many divorce lawyers do not take the time to educate their clients. If you have one of those lawyers, take the time to acquire a general knowledge of these areas and then proactively ask your attorney questions about your situation. You will become more educated. If your attorney provides vague and general answers, consider whether it is time for a change.
Our amazing FAQ guide on the California divorce process
The key is this - just because your attorney is not proactive with you does not mean you should sit back and watch your divorce as if you are a spectator.
3. Stop worrying about your narcissist spouse's "hidden intentions"
This is different than leaving the emotions at the door. If you have been married to a narcissist long enough, you probably spend too much time worrying about what he or she intends to do next.
This type of worrying goes beyond keeping your emotions in check. It means setting aside what you cannot control or presuming there must be a nefarious intent with everything the narcissist requests or does during negotiations. You give the narcissist power when you spend an unreasonable time worrying about such things.
Place your emphasis on what you can control - your intent, your goals and what you want out of this process.
How to negotiate with the narcissist through careful preparation
Preparing to negotiate with the narcissist in a divorce means doing the following.
1. Know the likely result in court if negotiations fail
Nobody can predict exactly how your divorce will end. However, an experienced divorce attorney will tell you what the court will likely order if your case proceeds to a hearing.
That includes a hearing to obtain temporary orders or the ultimate hearing, which is a divorce trial.
If there are several scenarios that may come true, your divorce lawyer should discuss those with you. The reason this is so important to preparation when negotiating with the narcissist is you will know what your opening offer should be, how much room there is for negotiation, where you can offer compromises and where you should hold firm. This brings order and logic to the negotiations.
2. Set a reasonable timeline for when negotiations will end
If you remember nothing else from this article, please remember this.
You must set a timeline for negotiations to end.
This timeline should be reasonable. The timeline may even have some flexibility in it. When you negotiate with the narcissist, he or she will not negotiate as you do. He or she will take a sick pleasure out of delays and unreasonable positions.
The narcissist has to learn delays will not benefit him or her.
The narcissist has to learn that taking unreasonable positions and negotiations will not aid him or her in any way.
You do that by setting a negotiation finish date. By that date, you will move your case further toward a hearing or a trial.
3. Prepare in advance the cost versus benefit analysis
Negotiating with the narcissist means you must always be prepared for the scenario that your case may proceed to hearing or a trial. By hearing we refer to that which takes place during the divorce but before the final trial. These are usually request for temporary orders. By trial, we refer to the final date in your divorce case where the court makes a ruling on all of the issues that were not resolved.
You and your divorce attorney should conduct a cost versus benefit analysis either before or during the negotiation process. You should be mindful of how much it will cost in both attorney's fees and other expenses to take the case to the hearing or trial.
Here are some important tips for putting together a cost versus benefit analysis when you negotiate with the narcissist.
1. Carefully assess which issues are worth the cost of a hearing or trial
Only a dummy spends $10,000 on a $15,000 issue. The first step to a cost-benefit analysis is to ensure you know what is worth litigating.
2. Carefully assess those issues with which you have little flexibility
These are the issues where if the narcissist is unreasonable (which they usually are) in negotiations, you have little negotiation room.
Speak with your divorce attorney regarding the cost of such issues if you take them to hearing or trial. A good example is child custody and parenting time when the narcissist is also abusive to the children. You should not sacrifice your children's best interest.
3. Find the narcissist's emotional pressure points
Do you think narcissism is a strength? Just because the narcissist is a bully does not mean he or she is strong. Narcissism is a weakness and you can exploit that weakness.
The narcissist will have certain issues with which he or she will be emotional. Use that to your advantage.
For example, if the narcissist looks at the house like a prize because of some emotional attachment or because he or she thinks you really want the house, the house should become bricks and mortar to you.
If you internally treat the house like a business transaction from your end but cause the narcissist to believe that house is also very important to you, you may be able to leverage the narcissist's own weakness on these issues. This may cause him or her to pay you more than he or she should while the narcissist still believes he or she somehow "hurt" you by taking the house.
Remember narcissists are self-absorbed, control freaks. The more extreme the narcissism, the more extreme this quality becomes. That gives you a tactical advantage in negotiations because, unlike you, the self-absorbed control freak will not listen to smart legal advice and will think he or she has it all figured out.
Did you enjoy this article on negotiating with the narcissist?
We hope so and we hope this article provided you with information that will be helpful to you during the negotiation process. The tools, preparation and goals for your specific case are not always obvious. They require thought and collaboration. That collaboration should be with an experienced and knowledgeable California divorce attorney.
Want to learn more? Check out the additional articles and guides we link below.