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Will Mediation Work With a Narcissist?

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A narcissist is someone who experiences extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes them ignore the needs of others around them. Narcissists do not understand the effect that their behavior has on those around them, and their focus on their own needs and self-involvement limits their ability to compromise with others. Although many people have narcissistic personality traits and tendencies, true Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is rare. Experts estimate only 5% of the population has NPD.

Some signs that you are dealing with someone with narcissistic tendencies or NPD are:

  • Overinflated sense of self-importance.
  • Constant thoughts about being more successful, powerful, smart, loved, or attractive than others.
  • Feelings of superiority.
  • Need for excessive admiration.
  • Sense of entitlement.
  • Willingness to take advantage of others to achieve goals.
  • Lack of understanding and consideration for other people’s feelings and needs.
  • Arrogant or snobby behaviors or attitudes.

When one party to a divorce or custody dispute is a narcissist, the ability to successfully mediate becomes more complicated. A vital aspect of a successful mediation is the willingness of both parties to compromise in order to reach agreements. A narcissist’s need to feel superior, their sense of entitlement, and their lack of understanding of other people’s feelings and needs hinders their ability to meaningfully participate in the mediation process.

During the process of mediation, the parties and their respective attorneys meet with a neutral third-party who has the sole goal of helping the parties reach agreements on their disputed issues. The mediator helps the parties communicate effectively about what is most important to them in order to help them reach agreements amicably. If one party is a narcissist, the ability to reach a mutually agreeable settlement is inhibited because the narcissist is only interested in “winning” rather than meeting in the middle.

One tactic to help in successfully mediating with a narcissist is utilizing shuttle mediation. During shuttle mediation, both parties are in separate rooms with their attorneys and the mediator travels from room to room. Shuttle mediation is a good means for mediating with a narcissist because it prevents the other party from hearing the lies, manipulation, and selfish statements made by the narcissist during the mediation.

If you are going through a divorce or custody dispute with a narcissist, it is important you have a competent attorney on your side. The attorneys at Burnham Law can help you navigate the obstacles that negotiating with a narcissist pose.

If you are seeking a mediator for your case, Leslie Shafer is an exceptional and experienced mediator and manages our alternative dispute resolution department.  Contact us today to learn more.

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Managing Partner

Colorado Springs

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