How the Technique Works — Talkspace

7 Tips/Techniques for Gray Rocking

The following tips have been found to be effective, useful, and important if you’re considering gray rocking someone.

1. Know when to be a gray rock

It’s not always possible to avoid toxic people. If you have a narcissistic family member or co-worker, you may still need to deal with them from time to time. The gray rocking technique can help you manage those limited interactions. Gray rocking can also be effective when you’re ending a relationship with someone.

However, you shouldn’t try to use the gray rock method if you’re afraid for your safety. Take steps to protect yourself and do your best to completely remove the person from your life.

2. Don’t let them know what you’re doing

One thing research has told us about narcissistic tendencies is that manipulative behaviors and narcissism go hand in hand. If a person with narcissistic personality disorder knows they’re being gray rocked, they may try to use this against you. You don’t have to explain what or why you’re doing this. Once you start disengaging, you should avoid acknowledging your change in behavior.

3. Limit interactions

The gray rocking technique can take an emotional toll, which is why you should try to make your interactions as brief as possible. When you respond to a question, try to give a yes or no answer. If possible, avoid interacting with them in person so that it’s easier for you to end a conversation.

4. Stay neutral

Manipulative behavior is one trait of a narcissistic person. Even if the toxic person tries to push your buttons, you should do your best not to show any emotion. Instead of saying what you feel or giving in to their emotional manipulation, give flat or factual responses to questions. If you’re asked to comment on something, you could respond with “I haven’t noticed” or “I don’t have an opinion.” Do your best to minimize any body language and avoid eye contact whenever possible.

5. Try grounding techniques

It can be very difficult to disengage from your emotions, especially when someone is trying to provoke you. Grounding techniques like breathing exercises can help you stay calm and neutral in these situations. Focusing on your breathing can also distract you from a toxic person’s words or behaviors.

6. Leave out personal details

A manipulative person will try to use personal information against you or gaslight you. That’s why you should try to leave out any personal details or emotions when you speak with anyone who you suspect has narcissistic tendencies. The less interesting you seem, and the less the person knows about your life, the more effective gray rocking will be.

7. Take care of yourself

Gray rocking can work, but it can also be difficult. This is why it’s important to make sure that you pay attention to your own needs throughout this process. Even when you’re hiding your emotions, you should make sure you’re still expressing your feelings to the other people in your life. You may want to work with a therapist who can provide you with advice or support.

“Be selective about the people and situations when using this technique. It’s not meant for every unhealthy relationship, but ones where distance can be achieved.”

Talkspace therapist Minkyung Chung, MS, LMHC

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