The "Grey Rock Technique" — A Brilliant (But Risky) Way To Deal With A Narcissist

When this technique is used long-term in a romantic or other close relationship, the results can be devastating.

Cropped shot of a young woman giving her boyfriend the silent treatment - Yuri A | Shutterstock

The grey rock technique can be a brilliant way of dealing with a narcissist or other toxic person. 

Much like the old childhood advice to "just ignore them," when someone teases you, using the grey rock method, you don’t respond.

Instead, you make yourself so boring that trying to get a rise out of you isn’t fun. Or in the case of an adult, isn’t effective.

Narcissists feed off drama and attention, positive or negative. The power and control they feel over another person gives them a narcissistic supply. This may be entirely subconsciously driven.


The narcissist’s disorder wants a reaction — the bigger the better. This makes them relevant.

They want you to…

  • Yell
  • Scream
  • Cry
  • Threaten to leave, but ultimately stay
  • Lose sleep
  • Defend yourself
  • Explain
  • Argue
  • Apologize
  • Beg
  • Talk about them to your friends
  • Wonder if something is wrong with you

When you are unable to go no contact, the grey rock method is often the next best.

The grey rock method involves making yourself uninteresting and unresponsive — much like a grey rock. The intent is simple: to make them lose interest in you as a target.

RELATED: 6 Signs Of A Narcissist That Are Super Easy To Miss


Here are the 5 steps of the grey rock method:

1. Remain emotionally neutral

Avoid showing any emotion. When the narcissist tries to hurt you, make you angry, or provoke jealousy, you don’t respond. It’s like you don’t care at all.

You do this by:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Minimizing facial expressions and body language
  • Using bland language devoid of emotion.

2. Don’t give them attention

The narcissist feeds on drama and attention. You don’t provide any.

You avoid providing attention by:

3. Keep your responses factual and brief

You again are providing minimal attention, giving them little relevance.


You respond when required with:

  • One-word answers — "How was your weekend?" "Good."
  • Non-committal answers — "What did you think of Susan at the party?" "I didn’t notice her."
  • Brief, factual answers — "Where are you at with the project?" "It’ll be done by 5."

RELATED: How A Narcissist Thinks (Warning: It's Pretty Messed Up)

4. Don’t provide personal information

The narcissist loves access to personal information. It’s the easiest way to hurt you in the future, stir up drama, and triangulate.

You avoid sharing anything that could be used against you later:

  • "Are you still working on that novel?" "Meh. On and off."
  • "Are you applying for the promotion?" "I’m not sure."
  • "Where did you get the money for your new car?" No response.

5. You make yourself bland and uninteresting

Beyond your language and your response to the narcissist, you make your physical appearance unattractive.


Narcissists like to be around those who elevate their status. This is one way to be sure you don’t.

The obvious risk of grey rocking

If you are a primary source of narcissistic supply, grey rocking a narcissist may lead to escalation of their behavior.

They consciously or subconsciously want power and control. They need a narcissistic supply. If you don’t freely give it, they will take it.

The narcissist will say or do things that are more aggressive to hurt you, provoke jealousy, or make you angry. They are determined to get the response they want and believe they deserve.

This can be a very dangerous space.

RELATED: 9 Dominant Narcissist Traits That Reveal Someone Might Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder


The hidden risk of grey rocking

The hidden risk of grey rocking is far more subtle, insidious, and harmful over the long term.

The grey-rock method works great when you are required to interact with a narcissist or other toxic person and you’re not their primary source of supply.

For example, it’s very effective when you have a narcissistic co-worker. It can work well at family functions with a toxic relative. It’s also very effective post-divorce while co-parenting when no contact isn’t an option.

When it is used long-term in a romantic or other close relationship, the results can be devastating.

  • You lose all connection to who you are, what you believe is true, how you show up in the world
  • You turn your back on yourself, allowing yourself to be abused, priding yourself for not reacting
  • You trade your thoughts and feelings for the eggshells you walk on
  • You suppress your own needs for love and partnership
  • You make yourself so invisible to the narcissist that you become invisible to yourself
  • You withdraw from the world and other relationships
  • You reinforce your pattern of staying quiet instead of taking a stand for yourself
  • You become more codependent, which causes its own trauma
  • You lose yourself

Grey rocking is intended to be fleeting, not a way of life.


It’s intended for the occasional interaction with a narcissistic co-worker, the family holidays with a narcissistic relative, and while planning your exit.

It’s not a substitute for leaving the relationship and ending the abuse.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474, or log onto


RELATED: How To Outplay A Narcissist & Avoid Their Abusive Traps

Dr Melissa Kalt, MD is a trauma and covert narcissistic abuse expert who helps high-impact women break free from the longstanding aftereffects of narcissistic abuse.