The mono level technique is exactly how you should be dealing with a narcissist.

While the word 'narcissist' is tossed around fairly frequently these days, anyone who's actually been in a relationship with a true narcissist will understand just how crushing it can be. 

The word 'narcissist' is derived from Greek mythology, where Narcissus was a figure who fell in love with his own reflection. In modern terms, a narcissist is an individual characterised by Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a mental health condition marked by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, an insatiable need for admiration, a lack of empathy for others, and inability to feel love, guilt or remorse. 

"People with NPD often exhibit an exaggerated sense of self-importance, believing they are unique and deserving of special treatment," says psychotherapist Dr Karen Philip. 

Watch: 10 Signs Your Parent Is A Narcissist. Post continues below.

Video via Psych2Go.

"They may fantasise about unlimited success, power, beauty, or ideal love. They truly believe they are better than others."

What makes them so destructive, is that they use others – typically the people who love them or are vulnerable to them – to drive themselves further. 


"Narcissists frequently exploit others to achieve their goals, lack genuine empathy, and have a sense of entitlement," says Dr Phillip. 

"They require constant admiration and may become envious of others or believe others envy them. 

"It's important to note that while narcissistic traits are common in varying degrees, Narcissistic Personality Disorder represents a more extreme and maladaptive manifestation, impacting the individual's ability to function in various areas of life or have deep connective meaningful relationships."

While the best response to a narcissist is to simply cut them out of your life, it isn't always possible. If you share children, for example, you're going to have to communicate. Doing so, without being dragged into the emotional vortex, manipulated and controlled, is the challenge. 

"If you have the capacity to cut a true narcissist out of your life, then you should consider doing that, as the narc will never change," says Dr Phillip. 

"Depending on the relationship you have with the narcissist though, it can be challenging to cut them out of your life. The main issue is to cease reacting to what they say as their words are used to control and reaction from the targeted person is fuel for their ego."

The Grey Rock Method.

A commonly suggested method for dealing with a narcissist is 'the grey rock method'. 


"The core idea is to make yourself as uninteresting and unresponsive as a grey rock, effectively becoming a neutral and unengaging presence," says Dr Phillip. 

"This method is designed to minimise emotional reactions, limit opportunities for manipulation, and reduce the narcissist's interest in targeting the person using the strategy."

While this strategy enables the targeted individual to emotionally protect themselves to a degree, with the aim reducing manipulation and establishing boundaries, it does leave the narcissist somewhat in control, because of the energy required to conceal every aspect of your feelings, and your life. 

"The grey rock method requires persistence and emotional suppression to ensure non-reaction. It can sap your energy," says Dr Phillip, who also believes it can have limited effectiveness, while placing additional strain on a relationship, in cases where you must continue communication. 

The Mono Level Technique.

To regain some control back into your life, she suggests the Mono Level Technique.

While similar to the grey rock method in some ways, the mono level technique differs in that a person is not forced to suppress their personality or hide their own success or happiness – in other words, they don’t have to be a grey rock. 

By controlling your reactions to the narcissist as opposed to controlling every interaction, it gives power back to the victim, instead of letting the narcissist be in control, by forcing you to suppress who you are. 


The mono-level technique is used with kindness and respect, as these are absent in the life, mind and feelings of the narcissist. It is based on control over self rather than allowing another person control over how you feel.

For example, if an ex-partner learns information from the children about your life, and then begins to prod you for information, a mono level response would involve responsible courteously, using brief monotone vocal or written responses without disclosing anything important.

Because while an intense response can encourage a narcissist, completely ignoring them can escalate their wrath, and ultimately increase their efforts to get to you. 

Both methods require you to avoid actively conversing or taking an interest in their life. Avoid asking them about their life, family or health.

"Remaining neutral delete's reaction and responsiveness toward the narcissist, thereby, removing the narc's power and control over you," says Dr Phillip. 

"Similar to the grey rock method it is used to self-protect, self-preserve, and disassociate from the hurtful behaviour directed toward the individual by the narc."

Of course, which method you choose depends on the narcissist themselves, your relationship with them, and your ability to control your own reactions. 

"And if you are strong enough and have learned enough to disassociate your feelings, emotions and responses.


"The mono-level means you remain level. Zero reaction regardless of the hurtful comments made."

That means don't respond with passion, but don't stonewall either. Just respond neutrally.  

"This can be very challenging, and the narc may attempt to break the person's mono-level responsiveness. The narc needs reaction and control."

If you can, cut them out. 

"The most important thing for anyone is to be aware of is the narc personality and being aware of the red flags when they see and hear them," says Dr Phillip. 

"This can aid the person avoiding getting involved with a narc, however, if it is too late, then leaving the relationship and disassociating from the person is best. 

"The narc will never change, why should they, they are perfect – just ask them. It is always someone else's fault, issue, or problem, never theirs."

According to Dr Phillip, it’s more common for men to be truly narcissistic than women. 

"Although women can certainly have NPD as well. Men tend to walk away from the narc female, whereas women often want to attempt to 'change them'. 

"Hence why more women suffer the distress and emotional baggage from living with a narcissist."

Feature Image: Getty