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While the holiday season brings people together and can be a time to reconnect and enjoy the company of family, friends and co-workers, it can also be a time of great stress. This is especially true for introverts or those who seek to avoid conflict. In a group of dynamic personalities, it is not always possible for everyone to get along.
Sometimes spending a few hours with people can feel like a few weeks, and this dynamic is multiplied when there is a narcissist in the group. They may seem well-meaning, but deep down they thrive on creating chaos and conflict. Who wants to take care of it during the holidays?
If this is an issue you’ve dealt with in the past, or if you see yourself dealing with it in the future, it’s time to learn more about “gray switching.”
Related: 3 Reasons Your Organization’s Narcissists Are Impossible To Evaluate
What is gray rocking and when can you apply it?
The gray rocker is named after an item that most find annoying. The concept is that when someone you seek to avoid interacts with you, try to become like a gray rock. Make it as uninteresting and boring as possible. It won’t be appealing to someone with narcissistic traits, and he’ll switch to interacting with someone else at the gathering.
Narcissists strive to interact with people who display personality and respond to their demands. When someone presents as a metaphorical gray rock, the narcissist will find that they cannot manipulate the person because they have no power over the dull personality that is on display.
The gray rock method is also useful against bullies, including those in the workplace.
Related: The 4 Most Toxic People at Work and How to Deal With Them
Does the gray rock method work?
Above all, it is important to understand that you can only control yourself. You won’t change the narcissist or their outlook on life. However, this method can help you avoid them.
If used correctly, the gray toggle will work for a while. In terms of avoiding narcissists and toxic people, the method is very effective for all the reasons stated above. People who exhibit the negative characteristics of a narcissist or bully thrive on interacting with people who react to their words, both visually and verbally, allowing them to manipulate their behavior. When someone is a gray rock, they aren’t interesting or exhibit any of the feedback these negative people want to get. This will make a narcissist unhappy and they will move on to someone else.
However, it is also important to note that the gray rock method is not a panacea. It is simply a method to avoid toxic and negative people. The method can also become less effective if overused.
Related: How to Recognize and Work With Narcissistic Leaders
What are the advantages of the gray rock method?
When it comes to vacations and interactions with family or co-workers, it’s just not possible to completely avoid people you might not be talking to the other 11 months of the year. Therefore, gray tipping becomes helpful in maintaining peace and avoiding conflict.
Other benefits of gray toggling include less stress, less anxiety, a sense of empowerment, better emotional health, improved mental health, and the realization that you can set limits.
What are the negative effects of the gray rock method?
Even though gray switching is a strategy intended to be used to avoid toxic people or uncomfortable and negative situations, there are possible side effects associated with using the strategy.
If used too much, gray swinging can lead to loneliness and withdrawal. Even though this is an intentional behavior, it results in less interaction with people. This can have negative mental health consequences. It is important to be aware of this fact – too much isolation can lead to loneliness and depression.
And while gray tipping can be successful in moderation, if you use the strategy against the same person too often, they might realize what’s going on. This might have the opposite effect of what you’re looking for: the bully might realize that he does have power over your life because he’s forcing you to behave differently than you normally would.
If you use the gray rock strategy and find that you are experiencing negative mental effects, be sure to seek professional help.
Related: Your Narcissism Is Killing Your Employees’ Productivity. How to avoid pitfalls.
What if the gray rock method doesn’t work?
There are several alternatives for avoiding people, conversations, and situations that a person doesn’t want to be in. The gray rock method is one strategy, but you can also try other techniques.
You can try to avoid the individual or the group of people, although this will be particularly difficult during the holidays. If you are forced to be with the narcissist, you can try to set clear boundaries for conversation, be assertive, and perhaps even confront the narcissist’s behavior if the situation calls for it.
There are also risks to these strategies, just as there are risks to using the gray tipping method. Use whatever strategy you think works best for your situation and the dynamic personalities you have to deal with this holiday season (and in the future).
Related: How to Handle a Toxic Coworker