7 Narcissistic Deflection Tactics You Should Know About (And How to Counter Them)

Last Update on November 28, 2023 : Published on November 28, 2023
Narcissistic Deflection Tactics

It’s never an easy task to navigate relationships, especially when one of the partners has narcissistic tendencies or has narcissistic personality disorder. One of the most challenging aspects of interacting with narcissists is their use of deflection tactics in arguments. Arguing with your loved one is the most disheartening thing, but then with a narcissistic partner, it can be even more painful and can leave you feeling confused.

With your narcissistic partner, it may seem as though they will win an argument with any means necessary, and at times, this could end up nasty. So, how can you talk to someone with narcissistic tendencies without losing yourself (and your point)?

Today, I have tips on how you can figure out narcissistic deflection tactics, why your narcissistic partner may use them, and how you can counter them.

What is Narcissistic Deflection?

Narcissistic deflection is a psychological defense mechanism that people with narcissistic traits use to redirect attention away from themselves and to protect their fragile ego. When they are met with criticism or accountability, narcissists avoid self-reflection and responsibility for their actions or words by shifting the focus onto others.

This deflection tactic they employ allows them to maintain a facade of perfection and control while sidestepping their uncomfortable feelings and truths.

Why Narcissists Use Deflection Tactics

When we talk about the core of narcissism, therein lies a fragile ego and self-esteem. Criticism or any perceived threat to their self-image is met with extreme discomfort. To protect themselves from this vulnerable side of themselves, narcissists use deflection tactics as a defense mechanism or a form of self-preservation.

Also Read: Whats Your Defense Mechanisms | Are you Practicing #5 Too?

By projecting blame onto others, narcissists maintain a sense of illusion of superiority and deflect scrutiny.

Regardless of the reasons why a narcissist uses deflection tactics, it’s important to know about them to avoid souring relationships. Whether a narcissist accepts it or not, deflecting arguments can cause poor mental health and can have negative impacts on their relationships.

Here are the 7 most common narcissistic deflection tactics and how you can counteract them in arguments with a narcissist.

7 Narcissistic Deflection Tactics

  • Blame-Shifting

Narcissists often deflect blame by pointing fingers at others. Whether it’s a failed project or a strained relationship, they skillfully redirect responsibility, leaving others to bear the brunt of the consequences.

For example; In a romantic relationship, your narcissistic partner is frequently absent and neglectful. When confronted about their behavior, they might shift blame by accusing you of being too demanding or needy, avoiding accountability for their unavailability.

  • Projection

Projection is a classic narcissistic deflection tactic. Narcissists project their own undesirable traits or behaviors onto others, making it challenging for those around them to discern the truth.

For example; A narcissistic partner has a history of dishonesty and betrayal in relationships. When questioned about their trustworthiness, they accuse others of being untrustworthy, projecting their own guilt and deflecting attention away from their own deceitful behavior.

  • Gaslighting

Another deflection tactic that narcissists use is gaslighting. Gaslighting involves manipulating others into doubting their own perceptions and reality. Narcissists use this tactic to make others question their sanity, effectively deflecting attention from the narcissist’s actions.

For example; Your narcissistic partner forgets to attend an important event that they said they would attend. When confronted, your partner denies ever having the conversation about the event, making you question your memory.

  • Denial or Minimizing Wrongdoings

When confronted with their actions or shortcomings, narcissists may flat-out deny any wrongdoing or downplay the severity of the situation. This deflection tactic allows them to maintain an air of infallibility and avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

For example; In a romantic relationship, your narcissistic partner consistently ignores your emotional needs. When confronted about the emotional distance, your partner denies any issues, asserting that you are being “overly sensitive”.

  • Diversion

Narcissists are masters at diverting attention away from their behavior. They might bring up unrelated issues, create a crisis, or change the subject altogether to avoid addressing the initial concern. This diversion deflection tactic allows them to keep the focus away from their own flaws.

For example; You confront your narcissistic partner about their lack of emotional support. Rather than addressing the concerns, they change the subject, bringing up past issues or pointing out your flaws to divert attention from the original topic.

  • The Victim Card

This is one of the most commonly used deflection tactics used by narcissists. Playing the victim card allows them to twist the narrative to make it seem like they are the ones being wronged or mistreated, manipulating sympathy and empathy from others. This narcissistic deflection tactic shifts the spotlight away from their problematic behavior onto others.

For example; Taking the same example of lack of emotional support. Rather than acknowledging their role, your narcissistic partner plays the victim card, saying how difficult their life has been and how you are adding to their emotional burden.

  • Selective Forgetting

Narcissists might conveniently forget events or details that don’t align with their desired narrative. By selectively forgetting specific details of a situation, they can create a version of a new reality that suits their agenda and deflects responsibility. This is also one of the most commonly used narcissistic deflection techniques.

For example; Your narcissistic partner makes hurtful comments and when you confront them about it, they pointedly forget specific incidents, putting themselves in a blameless position, denying any wrongdoings.

How to Counter Narcissistic Deflection Tactics

So, how can you counter narcissistic deflection tactics? Here are some tips to help you out win arguments against a narcissist who uses deflection techniques like a pro;

  • Stay Grounded: Recognize when a narcissist is deflecting and stay grounded in your truth. Trust your instincts and views, even when the narcissist in your life attempts to make you doubt yourself.
  • Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to protect yourself from manipulation. Be assertive in your communication and maintain a firm stance on what behavior is acceptable and what is not.
  • Be Calm and Rational: The narcissist in your life may attempt to provoke emotional responses from you. Instead of giving in and responding as they want, be calm and rational. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in their deflection.
  • Use “I” Statements: You can also try to phrase your points in “I” statements. Instead of saying, “You are wrong” say, “I feel like I’m misunderstanding your point of view”. This will help you stay in the conversation and not get caught up in deflection.

Also Read: The Power of “I” Statements (Your Magical Mental Health Tool)


Interacting with a narcissist and dealing with narcissistic deflection tactics can be as tough as pulling teeth, but knowing the deflection tactics a narcissist uses most commonly, can help you use strategies to counter them effectively. By setting boundaries and maintaining your stance in a conversation, you can steer the relationship in a more positive direction.

Your well-being and emotional health need attention too. So, don’t let narcissistic deflection tactics prevent you from achieving that balance.

I hope this article helped you understand what are narcissistic deflection tactics and how you can counteract them like a pro. Let me know how you counter narcissistic deflection in the comments section below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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