It is common for those experiencing narcissistic abuse to go through a phase where they are in a rush to find techniques that they can use to defend themselves against the narcissist in their lives. While it is completely understandable, it is a dangerous approach because it can cause people to use ineffective techniques, like the silent treatment, against the narcissist in their life.
The silent treatment is one of the most ineffective techniques that you could use on the narcissist in your life. The most effective techniques that you could use (e.g. The No Contact Rule and the Gray or Yellow Rock Method) require you to make conscious and well-informed decisions, the silent treatment does not.
This article is a thorough exploration of the ineffectiveness of the silent treatment against narcissists and provides you with conscious and well-informed alternatives that you can use to defend yourself against the narcissist in your life, starting with the No Contact Rule in a short video below.
A Short Video About the No Contact Rule
Why Is the Silent Treatment Ineffective Against Narcissists?
The silent treatment is actually a form of stonewalling, a narcissistic behavior pattern that occurs when a narcissist refuses to participate in the communication and connection of the relationship that they have with someone else.
It doesn’t require any bravery, critical thinking, commitment, etc., all the narcissist has to do is stop verbally and electronically communicating with you. It is just an emotionally stunted and immature form of communication that narcissists use when they experience a contradiction to their grandiose self-perception, which is also known as a narcissistic injury.
If you want to protect yourself from the narcissist in your life, you have to constantly be making conscious and well-informed decisions that keep your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs shielded from the narcissist in your life.
If you were to use the silent treatment against the narcissist in your life, you would be making it very easy for them to manipulate you into a negative interaction because you wouldn’t be making conscious and well-informed decisions.
In the next section we are going to guide you through the most effective techniques that you can use to protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs from the narcissist in your life, but before we do that, we want to revisit the No Contact Rule.
In the beginning of this article we created a short video about the No Contact Rule that we recommend that you watch. We would like to remind you that the No Contact Rule is the best defense against the abusive people in your life. With that being said, going No Contact with all of the abusive people in your life isn’t always possible.
Suggested Reading: Why Is Going No Contact With a Narcissist So Important?
If you are in a situation where you can’t go No Contact with the narcissist in your life (e.g. you have children together, you don’t have enough money to live on your own, they are your parent and you’re under 18, etc.), the Gray and Yellow Rock Method are two of the most effective techniques that you can use to shield your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs from them.
With that being said, we strongly recommend that these techniques only be used on narcissists who are emotionally/psychologically abusive.
The term “emotionally/psychologically abusive” refers to non-physical behaviors that are designed to manipulate, hurt, weaken, frighten, isolate, confuse, insult, threaten, shame, degrade, invalidate, or devalue you.
We believe that using these techniques on narcissists who are physically abusive could increase the levels of abuse because both the Gray and Yellow Rock Method are designed to limit the amount of narcissistic supply you give them.
Without narcissistic supply, a narcissist will experience massive narcissistic injuries that contradict their self-perception, trigger the painful emotions and self-loathing attitude, and compromise their emotional stability.
We highly recommend that you read our article Why Are Narcissists So Aggressive to learn more about this information but aggression is one of the only ways that narcissists can protect their emotional stability after experiencing a narcissistic injury so you should expect them to use aggressive forms of abuse in response to the Gray and Yellow Rock Method.
How to Use the Gray Rock Method
To use the Gray Rock Method you have to restrain yourself from engaging in meaningful interactions with the emotionally/psychologically abusive people in your life.
When we use the term “meaningful interactions” we are referring to any interaction that gives the emotionally/psychologically abusive people in your life access to your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs.
Gray Rock Scenario
It is 6:45am and you are leaving the house to go to work. Since today is your anniversary, you ask the narcissist in your life to remove the chicken from the freezer so you can cook a nice dinner when you get home from work. They clearly acknowledge your request and tell you to have a nice day.
When you get home from work, you head straight to the kitchen to start dinner but the defrosted chicken is nowhere to be found! The narcissist in your life never took the chicken out of the freezer. You don’t want to start an argument with them so you ask them if they’d like to have burgers instead of chicken.
They are annoyed with your question and insist on having chicken. You are forced to tell them that you can’t cook chicken because they forgot to take it out of the freezer. They get furious and say, “Oh so it is my fault that the chicken isn’t ready right? Why didn’t you f*cking take it out on your way to work? You know I have so much on my plate and you just keep adding sh*t onto it because you’re a lazy piece of sh*t.”
In this scenario it might be hard for you to restrain yourself from engaging in a meaningful interaction with the narcissist in your life because they clearly acknowledged your request and they are saying hurtful things. However, it is important to remember that all they are doing is trying to bait you into a negative confrontation that gives them an opportunity to invalidate, devalue, and degrade you.
You can use the Gray Rock Method to restrain yourself from engaging in a meaningful interaction by saying, “Okay. I am going to make burgers so let me know if you want some.”
This is a great response because you are refusing to acknowledge their hurtful things that they said to try to bait you into an invalidating, devaluing, and degrading interaction.
With that being said, you should expect the narcissist in your life to continue to try to bait you into an invalidating, devaluing, and degrading interaction after you’ve used the Gray Rock Method on them.
They feel entitled to having the narcissistic supply that they get from baiting you into an invalidating, devaluing, and degrading interaction so you need to stay focused on the objective of the Gray Rock Method (restrain yourself from engaging in meaningful interactions with the narcissist in your life) and continue to protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs.
If you were to try to defend yourself (e.g. “Don’t speak to me like that. I asked you to take the chicken out of the fridge and you didn’t! Do not blame your mistakes on me!.”) you would be giving them an opportunity to use your response to invalidate, devalue, and degrade you (e.g. “You are f*cking insane. If I had known that you’d be this delusional and worthless I would have never left my ex!).
Invalidating, devaluing, and degrading interactions with the narcissist in your life prevent you from working towards developing healthy trauma responses, reconnecting with your core values, and becoming the best version of yourself. So, use the Gray Rock Method!
How to Use the Yellow Rock Method
The Yellow Rock Method is a form of communication that you can use to protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs from the emotionally/psychologically abusive people in your life.
The Yellow Rock Method is very similar to the Gray Rock Method because they both require you to restrain yourself from engaging in meaningful interactions with the emotionally/psychologically abusive people in your life.
But when you use the Gray Rock Method, there’s a possibility that you could come off as cold, uncooperative, distant, arrogant, and/or mean. Usually, there’s nothing wrong with coming off as cold, uncooperative, distant, arrogant, and mean when you are healing.
But because of how good narcissists, flying monkeys, and narcissists enablers are at twisting reality to portray you in a negative light, there are certain situations (e.g. a custody battle) that you should try your hardest to not come off as cold, uncooperative, distant, arrogant, and mean.
The Yellow Rock Method is a brilliant alternative to the Gray Rock Method that you can use in situations where coming off as cold, uncooperative, distant, arrogant, and mean could have significant negative consequences on your life.
Yellow Rock Scenario
It is 4pm on a Saturday and you are opening up an email from your narcissistic colleague. They are emailing you because the two of you were working on a project together that is due Monday morning and they “forgot” to complete their part in it.
The truth is that your narcissistic colleague believes that he/she is much more intelligent than your bosses and couldn’t be bothered spending their free time working on a project for them.
You have been reading the articles here at Unfilteredd so you can spot their narcissistic behavior from a mile away. You notice that their email is extremely manipulative because they’ve written it in such a manner that without context, it looks like you are to blame for the project not getting finished.
“Hey (Your Name)
I was looking through the notes from our last meeting and saw that you have gone ahead and completed the tasks that we agreed I would do. It’s not a big deal, I understand that you want to do what you are most comfortable with, but now the project isn’t going to be ready in time! Let’s just keep this between us because I know it was an honest mistake, but we should meet up and work on the final part of this project together tomorrow so it gets done faster!”
All the best,
This email is INSANE but if you use the Gray Rock Method in this situation (e.g. ignore the email) they could show your boss that you were “uncooperative”, “unprofessional”, and frame it in a way that makes it look like you were trying to sabotage your narcissistic colleague.
To use the Yellow Rock Method in this situation you should write back:
Hey (Their Name)
I do not agree with the veracity of much of what you have written but your attempt to portray me in a negative light is duly noted.
Our meeting notes clearly state that (XYZ) was my responsibility (provide the meeting notes).
I’d be happy to share my work with you so you can stay on the right track but I will not be doing your work for you. We had plenty of time to get this project finished and you reassured me many times that you were on track for our deadline.
If I don’t hear back from you by (date/time), I will assume we are in agreement on this matter.
All the best,
The Yellow Rock Method is such an important technique to learn because it allows you to protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs while simultaneously preventing the narcissist from twisting reality to portray you in a negative light.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
You should never use the silent treatment on a narcissist because it is an emotionally stunted and immature form of stonewalling that narcissists use when they experience a narcissistic injury.
The best thing that you could do to protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs from the narcissist in your life is to go No Contact. However, that isn’t always possible so the next best thing would be the Gray or Yellow Rock Method!
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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.
Copp, J. E., et al. (2015). Stay/leave decision-making in non-violent and violent dating relationships.