Whether overt or covert, narcissists are control freaks. They must be in control of their environment & the people in it at all times. We all know overt narcissists use fear & covert narcissists guilt to accomplish this, but there are other methods they also use.
Narcissists may use ignoring a person as a means of control. They accomplish this in many ways. They may simply ignore the victim in conversation, acting as if the person didn’t say anything when they did. The narcissist may talk over the victim in conversation. They may conveniently “forget” to invite the victim to a gathering. If the victim arrives with someone, the narcissist may greet that person while ignoring the victim. When a person is ignored this way, they may shut down, fading quietly into the background which leaves more room for the narcissist to get attention. Or, they may question the narcissist, wondering what they did wrong & pleading with the narcissist to forgive them. Ignoring a victim also lets that person know that the narcissist thinks they are unworthy of the narcissist’s attention, so the victim may try harder & harder to please the narcissist.
Interrupting is another display of dominance narcissists use. When most people have a conversation, & someone interrupts them, they stop talking to let the interrupting person talk. Narcissists will use this natural proclivity to their advantage. My father used this tactic a LOT. In fact, he put a unique spin on it. When I started talking, he would open his mouth as if he was going to talk, then close it quickly. Naturally, I thought I was interrupting him, so I encouraged him to talk. One day after a visit, I prayed about it. I don’t usually interrupt people, so why was I doing it with him?! God showed me I wasn’t. My father was using this tactic to get me to stop talking so he could talk. I hate bad manners, he knew it & used that to dominate our conversations.
Shock is a big favorite with narcissists. If a narcissist is a part of a group of people & not the center of attention, that narcissist is incredibly uncomfortable. She feels out of sorts, & will do whatever it takes to restore her position of being in control & being the center of attention. One method she may use to regain her position is by shocking everyone in the group. She may start talking loudly & suddenly about an entirely different topic of conversation. She may blurt out some weird or disturbing facts that is so odd that it gets everyone’s attention. She may walk away while someone is talking, make a loud noise or even spill her purse to restore the balance of power she wants. My mother once broke into song when my father & I left her out of our conversation. Remember the old musical, “Oklahoma!”? Apparently my mother does. She started singing the theme song. Loudly. Since this was well before I knew anything about NPD, my father & I ended our conversation at that point. Attention was focused back on her, as she wanted.
Possibly the most disgusting way narcissist try to assert their dominance is with body functions. Even passing gas or burping isn’t too low for a narcissist desperate enough to establish dominance. They also may blow their nose extremely loudly or make the sounds more disgusting than need be. If they don’t use a body function, they will at least talk about them. My mother has irritable bowel syndrome & has absolutely no trouble discussing all the gory details of it. Body functions are so seldom a part of a conversation in any way that when it happens, people are naturally shocked & notice the person who brought them into the conversation.
The best way I’ve found to deal with these dominant behaviors is very simple. Ignore them. Pretend the narcissist didn’t say or do anything unusual. Carry on with your conversation as usual. If she interrupts you, you can either talk over her or wait until she is finished, then resume your previous conversation. If she ignores you, pretend not to notice. The same goes if she uses shock value or body functions- pretend you notice nothing whatsoever. By ignoring the narcissist’s attempts to dominate, you aren’t allowing her to dominate. You’re depriving her of narcissistic supply, which is the best thing you can do with any narcissist.