grey rock
How do you deal with narcissists? Mental health professionals have figured out a way. It’s called grey rocking or the grey rock method, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Image Credit: Stock photo/Pixabay

How do you deal with toxic people in your life?

Click start to play today’s Crossword, where you can identify a “narcissist’s concern”, in the clue 4-Down.

Narcissism is a personality type that’s characterised by self-confidence, dominance, a sense of entitlement and grandiosity, and low empathy. Chances are, you may have encountered a narcissist in your social circles. Whether it’s a colleague or a relative, some people take their narcissism to new heights by feeding on conflict, attention and drama.

Unfortunately, according to a 2014 study published in The Leadership Quarterly, it’s common for narcissists to succeed in the workplace. The study showed that narcissists usually get paid more than others, and are more likely to get promoted to top-tier positions.

One reason for this is because they naturally show required leadership qualities, like energy, charisma and self-assurance. But look a little closer and you’ll find that they are often impulsive and manipulative, and don’t care what other people think.

Another reason, according to Dutch psychoanalyst Manfred Kets de Vries’ book, The Leader on the Couch, is that narcissists are able to manipulate others and establish shallow relationships that serve them well as they move up their career ladder.

Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud believed narcissism couldn’t be cured. Because people with this personality type couldn’t form meaningful relationships, they couldn’t transfer their feelings onto their analysts – a prerequisite for successful treatment. Moreover, narcissists don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way they behave – they believe their own hype.

So, what do you do when you get the attention of a narcissist? How do you avoid feeding their love of conflict and drama?

Mental health professionals have figured out a way, according to US-based professional coaching website Better Up. It’s called grey rocking or the grey rock method, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

The technique is used to divert the behaviour of a toxic person, by acting as unresponsive as possible during your interaction with them. For instance, you would deliberately avoid eye contact with them, and refuse to show any emotion during a conversation. Just like an inconspicuous grey rock, your neutral expressions and lack of communication will serve to make the narcissist lose interest in the conversation and move on to other things or people.

The end goal of the technique is to establish firm boundaries and stop the negative behaviour – at least around you.

Have you tried this method? Play today’s Crossword and tell us at