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In the past, I have been a part of self-centered conversations, especially in the offices. These would be among a group of people, where there is one person who is very much self-centered and would tactfully concentrate all the conversations towards themselves. Others do not perceive any sense of narcissism. But, it is clearly a case of one. It is this tactic that always works and people fall for such sweet manipulation. And this is done to divert attention from anyone else and always keep the conversation around them.

But, not many realize that the person is manipulating others and is a trap to keep them under their control.

I was part of such group, but, when I realized that everyone else is getting manipulated, I couldn't resist myself. I engaged in conversations that were no more around the person. But, that made me the bitter one to the main person and a series of conflicts raised.

I, later understood that these kind of persons should be left alone. But, I am sure I would encounter such persons in the future too and I have no idea how to deal with them. While keeping mum all the time would be a conflict within myself; that they would think that I got manipulated too. I do not want to give them that impression.

Question I realized that manipulations are a common thing both at workplace and in personal life. All I did was to redirect conversations away from them but that brought a lot of animosity between us. So, I do not want to be the bad buy and at the same time, I want the manipulator to know that I am not falling for that.

My question is: how do I redirect conversations to not focus on self-centered people, without upsetting those people? And if I can't redirect that way, how can I make clear that I'm aware of what self-centered conversation monoplizers are doing?

Edit:

Adding a conversations scenario.

Scenario 1

Purpose : Conversation Hijack

Context : Workplace lunch

The entire group is discussing about how well one of the team members, Tom, has done in the recent past, praising Tom for it and gathering more information about it. Out of the blue, one of the team members says something like 'I have faced a similar situation too; I have done XYZ and so and so. blah blah blah'. With a joke in such hijacked conversations, the entire group bursts into laughter and no one would ever think of coming back to Tom. Cracking jokes is one of the easiest ways to divert the conversation. And the frequency of the hijacking could be less or more depending on that person.

Praising one is just one of the contexts. It could be anything else like showing fake concern towards a team member and then diverting the topic to themselves and their own set of problems or success scenarios.

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    Just a reminder that Comments are not for discussion comments that aren't requesting clarification or suggesting improvements are likely to be removed without warning. – sphennings Jul 2 '18 at 15:26
  • Is this all the same person doing the "manipulating"? If not, are you encountering it with a lot of different people? Since you say situation #1 is your main concern, you might want to just focus on that scenario, unless #2 & 3 somehow help explain the behavior of a particular person. – 1006a Jul 2 '18 at 16:23
  • @1006a #1 and #2 are from the same person. Narrated #3 only to stress about manipulators. – Sara Jul 2 '18 at 16:24
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    In order to answer ' how do I redirect conversations to not focus on self-centered people, without upsetting those people?' I'd love to hear how you've already went about 'I engaged in conversations that were no more around the person'. Could you perhaps either elaborate the existing scenario a bit, or otherwise explain how you changed the topic of conversation? What did you try? I think I may have some actual advice on how to handle this, but I don't want to answer your question with stuff you've already tried, that didn't work. – Tinkeringbell Jul 3 '18 at 20:18
  • @Tinkeringbell The first part of the question came as an edit though my main intention was to get an answer for the second part. I have accepted that such diversions only cause conflicts and hence concentrated on the second ones. But, if there solutions to divert the topic without causing resentment or conflicts, I would be more than happy to implement it. – Sara Jul 4 '18 at 6:37
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These would be among a group of people, where there is one person who is very much self-centered and would tactfully concentrate all the conversations towards themselves. Others do not perceive any sense of narcissism.

Narcissists are notoriously hard to counter if third parties do not see their narcissism.

To an oblivious observer, your pushback is indistinguishable from you vehemently opposing the narcissist's contribution to the conversation (for an inexplicable reason, as far as the third parties are concerned); which is going to backfire on you. ("Why are you being so unkind to him?")

When you play a game where you're bound to lose, the only way to not lose is to not play the game, but abruptly leaving conversations can in and of itself be considered disrespectful by oblivious third parties.
Which puts you in an impossible position: either you have to suffer the narcissism, or come across as impolite when removing yourself from the conversation.

Sad to say, it's mostly a no-win scenario.

If you want to minimize negative consequences with third parties, it may be best to simply endure the conversation you're in, but avoid extended conversations with this person in the future.

However, if you're in close repeated contact with this person (e.g. because of work), it will become apparent that you're avoiding them. In such a case, you'll either need to endure the conversations, mentally tune out, or explicitly communicate that you don't enjoy conversing with them.

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The shortest answer is: You can't avoid being part of such self centered conversation. You will find people who are self-centered, full of ego and attention hungry everywhere. I have seen them so many times in my professional life that I can't imagine a world without such people.

However, I do want to add that contrary to what you feel about this, these people don't get indulge in such self-centered talks on a purpose. There has been no attempt to manipulate the group by them in most of the cases. The real cause is that these people have a very limited and narrow self-centered sense of the world, and they can't speak much about any other topic than themselves.

So the first thing to do is to accept that you can't avoid people who are unable to stop talking about themselves only.

Another thing that I have observed about such conversation is that they normally get started in a group of more than 4 people at least. If there are less than 4 people, having such self-centered conversations is difficult. So, if you are in a large group where such a person is present, the best thing to do is start an independent conversation with a different person close by. This way, you will create a parallel stream of conversation which has the potential to get other people involved in it. This will break the solo commentary of the self-centered person.

Thirdly, please understand that just like you, majority of other people also do not like such people. They may listen to their ego driven stories but seldom or never get impressed by them. As a psychological tactic, it is an extremely bad strategy to only talk about yourself. There is no psychological gain in it. So, don't take such people seriously as they are not gaining any advantage from such behavior.

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You could consider letting go. Try to see that these conversations are only things that pass time, they are not important if they are not damaging you in any way. Rather than being worried about people that you have decided are manipulative consider that this is merely your perception, and that others in the group may not share your view. Come into these conversations as yourself, with what you can give, and leave as yourself with no worry or lingering things that you have to judge. Once a conversation has ended it has gone. If you come to the conversation as yourself, an unchangeable and unique personality then you cannot be manipulated or changed by others, they will accept you as you and will accept what you can give to the conversation. Stop worrying about it, you only need to be you, the answer to the question is in your hands, you cannot change others nor can you define them or classify them as manipulative. But you can offer your unique self to others as your gift. Value yourself.

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