The Smiling Assassin
We are masters of the back-handed compliment, the flattery which is actually a form of provocation, the kings of seemingly pleasant comments which are really put downs. We appear with that radiant and broad smile as we then slip a stiletto knife between your ribs with deft ease. Nobody else sees us do this. It appears to everyone else, as we stand there with our false smile plastered across our faces, that we are giving you a loving hug. Our outside appearance to the world and the maintenance of our façade remains intact as we slip through your defences and land a blow against you. We revel in seeing you smiling in return, your eyes lighting up with delight at our benign manner towards you only then for you to realise the import of what we have actually said. As the metaphorical dagger pierces your skin, you realise that is actually meant by what we have said to you. It appeared as a compliment but in actual fact we have told you something which will trouble you, upset you or anger you. Your eyes narrow with confusion and we see that look of uncertainty cross your face as you cannot quite believe what is happening. Did you hear what we said correctly? Have you misinterpreted the comment that we made? Did we really just say that? We can see how you are torn between wanting to accept the supposed compliment and then that sinking sensation as you realise that we have just made a barbed comment which appeared to be a pleasant one. The look on your face is akin to the look of bewildered astonishment that one might see on a wildebeest as it is brought to ground by a hungry lion and is eaten alive from behind. It cannot quite comprehend what is happening and neither can you.
What makes it worse is that to everyone else we appear to smiling, hugging you and being pleasant. You want to react. You want to push us away from you. You want to chastise us, lash out and reprimand us for what we have just said, but the way that we framed this back-handed compliment means that you would appear mean, ungrateful and churlish if you did so. Just as we remain close to you, holding you, dagger still lodged between your ribs as we slowly twist it, you can do nothing but remain where you are as everyone else looks on thinking that we are being pleasant to you. We know that because you are a decent and pleasant person you are conditioned to accept the compliment and not rail against it, even when you realise that it is actually hurtful. This allows us to see just how strong our control over you is. If you react to the barbed comment and lash out at us, crying or shouting at us for our remark, then we gain fuel. If you remain silent and confused by it, unable to mask your hurt and disappointment, we still gain fuel but we also derive a significant indication of our power over you. We are able to make a hurtful remark seem like a compliment and have you accept it. This is a useful way for us to put you down whilst appearing to be pleasant. It also allows us to reinforce our perceived superiority over you through the application of this control. This technique also utilises our favoured mechanism of plausible deniability. There is a degree of ambiguity whereby if you attempted to pin the blame on us for precisely what we have intended to say, we would be able to reject that assertion. We are able to accuse you of reading too much into it, twisting our words and over-reacting. All favourite methods of rejecting you intended blame and of stoking the emotional fires further. We can feign hurt by stating we were paying you a compliment and you have taken it the wrong way. Again. We then want you to apologise, soothe us and feel guilty for trying to suggest that we would do anything other than be pleasant to you. Of course, this technique where we come with smiles as we plunge our critical knife into you, is one which we revel in deploying and is just part of our arsenal that is designed to mess with your thinking. Did we say what you thought we said? What did we really mean from that comment? Are you in fact over-analysing it or should you trust your initial judgement here? All of these factors unsettle, confuse and undermine you, eroding your confidence and clouding your judgement. It is all par the course and entirely why we behave as smiling assassins. There are numerous ways this is done and here are seven of the often used back-handed provocations.
We will talk to you in a condescending tone for the purposes of belittling you, making you feel inferior and causing us to look far better by comparison. We offer unwanted advice, talk to you from the position of always knowing what is right and what is best. Of course, should you challenge this overly paternalistic approach to the way we deal with you we will point out that we only want what is best for you, that we are only trying to help you and do have your best interests at heart. Is it a crime to do that for you?
- Insider Jokes
We will engage in making comments which cause members of our devout coterie to laugh and giggle but you are left in the dark as to what is so funny. We will use terms that amuse us and our followers considerably but seem meaningless to you. This will make you feel uncomfortable and isolated and if you should commence some kind of protest we will point out that we have not involved you because you would be bored by the silliness (thus inferring you have no sense of humour but making it seem as if you are above our schoolboy sniggering and this is a good thing) or that you would not be interested in our style of humour because you are too highbrow for such base comments and observations.
- Our Ex
We will repeatedly mention that our ex is still in love with us, indeed he or she still tries to contact us and they leave messages and have telephoned us a few times. Of course we tell you that you have no need to worry because that was in the past and we are with you now, you are the person that matters. This is designed to make it appear like we can brush aside the presence of our ex because we are in love with you. In fact, although it sounds like this, we use it as a means of securing carte blanche for mentioning the ex on many occasions so it unsettles you. Of course you are hamstrung from saying anything because that would make you seem insecure and you do not want to show that this is true. Thus we feel free to keep making mention of our ex and continue to triangulate them with you.
- Ignoring You
We ignore you and dole out a silent treatment with all of the fuel providing and control ramification which arise from this particular manipulation. Should you even begin to protest we point out that we are so glad we are with you because you understand our need for space and some time to ourselves. This appears like a compliment and is designed to flatter you into allowing us to keep doling out these silent treatments as and when we want in order to ignore you because we can then focus on gaining fuel from other parties when we are apart from you.
- The Ex Again
We talk incessantly about the qualities of the ex, highlighting all of their many wonderful attributes (which of course is a sudden change from when we were calling them demon spawn when we first seduced you but that’s all changed now). We babble on about how marvellous they are, the funny things they said, how beautiful they looked, the achievements they secured and so on before telling you that we are so pleased that you are so understanding that we can talk about past relationships with you. This supposed compliment restricts you from commenting adversely but we know that inside you are fuming and desperate to reprimand us in some way. How we delight in knowing this and seeing your trying to maintain a pleasant smile when inside we know you are dying.
We flirt shamelessly and we know you see us doing this. We also know how it hurts and angers you but we fire a compliment your way by telling you that it is refreshing to be with someone who allows us to be ourselves, someone who is not jealous and someone who is so trusting. These compliments are designed to keep you quiet as we get on with doing what we please. We draw fuel from those we flirt with and all the while we keep casting backward glances to the trusting you seeing the gathering anger in your eyes.
- Spending Time with Others
We spend time with other people. It may be chatting someone up in the bar, hanging out with our friends, chasing down new prospects, wowing the crowd at a work function and so on. This blatant fuel-gathering is crucial to us and when we wander in later after our third consecutive night out we head you off at the pass by praising you by saying how lucky we are to have someone who understands that because they get all of our attention most of the time, we need to be able to spend some time with other people. Once again, this comment is designed to back you into a corner and have you standing, arms crossed and fuming, teetering between our control and providing us with even more fuel.
29 thoughts on “The Smiling Assassin”
I didn’t realise these are the tactics, I grew up with narcissist girls and I just thought it was their sense of humour. I would burst into fits of laughter after each one. And compete with them to deliver them back.
Now I’m having a moment. How dare they!
Is laughing the best diffuser?
The worst times for me are when I have truly fallen to ash because of narc boyfriends and the girls treated me like I was a stupid sparrow and abandoned me and recommended all this shit for anxiety instead of saying “you’re suffering from being manipulated and it was all a lie.” In front of big groups or at really important moments they’ll paint me as sick and inferior.
What’s the best way to handle that? A comeback, or ignore competely?
Laughing can be regarded as a criticism dependent on the context so you need to be aware of the potential for the fury to be ignited.
The best way to deal with the girls treating you like that is to ignore them and come and vent here.
Question HG, why would my ex befriend so many of my current boy friend friends on face book? Let me illustrate the picture, yes we are from a “smaller” town, both men did not graduate the same year nor from the school however a few years apart, and neighboring high schools and continued to live from home town years later so there are many ways connections can cross over, say the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon game? However before I dated my current boyfriend my ex did not have as many Facebook friends and these in particular, some of them have contacted my current boyfriend and have asked him who is this guy? My ex has over 800 friends, its silly to me but whatever. Here’s what gets to me, now my boyfriend tells his friends to stay friends on Facebook with my ex so they can keep on eye out for him, the whole thing is just disturbing to me, but I never say a word to my ex about it. What is this all about HG, I do value your thoughts so much!
He is doing it in order to spy (in the same way you current boyfriend is telling his friends to remain friends with your ex) and to generate Thought Fuel at the idea of you feeling apprehensive that he is doing this. He is maintaining on-line presences to mine for information to assist with potential hoovers.
Thank you HG. Yes hoovers are pretty regular. :/
HG, How does a narcissist respond or think when either a primary source or secondary source or even an ex primary source gets rid of face book all together so they can no longer use social media to spy or gather fuel from that sphere?
It raises the bar on the Hoover Execution Criteria and will initially frustrate us. We will either turn to a different source of information/ method to hoover if the criteria is met for other reasons or more likely, we will shift attention to a different source of fuel.
The more I read, the more I realize I was and am married to not one but two narracist men!
These are all so true.
I’m so glad it’s over and this b.s. nonsense is gone!
What’s a Worzel Gumming? A dental procedure, maybe, or a new method of wildlife population control? 😉
A Worzel Gummidge (I suspect spellcheck altered it) is a scarecrow.
Was this a show you viewed as a child?
No, I just know of it.
After your time
Watch it Alexis ! Before my time is what you mean to write.
Damn spell checker !
You’re such a rascal !
No, I am the king of the castle and you are the dirty rascal.
Thus proving my point 😉You can be the king for that HG ! I’ll allow it
How gracious of you Alexis! I call the shots round here, you just keep drinking them at the watering hole!
Hahah I am gracious. Alcohol is strictly prohibited. Still cold…..
It doesn’t bother me but if it bothers you do something about it. How sweet..not.
We were going to meet friends for dinner, foolishly I asked that question does this dress make me look bloated it was that time of month. We arrived a little late and he look at our friends rub my belly and said excuse our tardiness my lovely lady think she’s pregnant. I wanted to crawl under the table.
Entertainment- My response would be to look at the friends and say… “Yeah. Sorry about that.” Huge smile. “Too bad it’s not his.”
The awareness i have gained due to HG allows me to respond harsher 8n that manner or harsher this occurred years back. Thanks to HG I am starting to question my pd which I do have but it’s not in the spectrum at all. My current behavior and rudeness is the result exaggeration and triggers from prior abuse. By the way he was a mid range he would have felt the injure but come back with a remark like he’s always traveling and the rumors must be true. (Fake Rumors)
Entertainment- Yeah. There is always a cruel passive aggressive witty retort with the MR’s and Narcopaths. But sometimes you just can’t help it. I just learned to deliver the jabs in a deadpan non emotional way, and not allow the retorts to trigger an emotional response. Because that is all it is intended to do.
DMGB, so true once we seize the power I don’t who’s deadliest us or then. I allowed a hoover not too long from the lesser. I hit him with so many left and right hooks he ran out of my house. I called him on a lie and kept questioning him. He started to stutter raised his voice like that was going to stop me haha. Then he asked for a drink I was like hell that’s too expensive to share with you. Haha, it took all of 15 minutes to top it off I had him show up twice and didn’t open the door. Ohh, it felt so empowering considering 3 years ago he had mind so messed I contemplated suicide. Seeing him was like looking at road kill.
Oh he was a perfectionist at all of these.
His current /not current fuel source (I’m no longer sure what she is) was going to have plastic surgery. He said to her, if you were happy with yourself you wouldn’t need to do this. Everyone thought he was so caring in saying that and really thoughtful. But I know she is not happy with herself (she’s a lesser, with real self esteem issues) so of course t was A back handed one.
when I heard she was going to have plastic surgery, I wanted to assure her that the farmer down the road could always do with someone like her to scare the crows off his crops.
Is that a bit nasty HG ?
Not by my standards. You need to dig out a Worzel Gumming DVD for her.
Good idea HG. Then she can watch it with a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake!