January 27, 2023

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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 colleagues, it can also be a time of great stress. This is especially true for introverts or those who want to avoid conflict. In a group of dynamic personalities, it is simply not always possible for everyone to get along.

Sometimes 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-intentioned, but deep down, they thrive on creating chaos and conflict. Who wants to deal with that during the holidays?

If this is a problem 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 rocking.”

Related: 3 reasons why narcissists in your organization are impossible to evaluate

What is rocking gray and when can you apply it?

Gray rocking is named after an object most find boring. The concept is that when someone you want to avoid interacts with you, try to become like a gray rock. Make yourself as uninteresting and boring as possible. This will be unattractive to someone with narcissistic traits, and they will continue to interact with someone else during the meeting.

Narcissists strive to associate with people who exhibit personality and who respond to their demands. When someone displays themselves as a metaphorical gray rock, the narcissist will realize that they cannot manipulate the person because they have no power over the boring personality that is being exhibited.

The gray stone 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 stone method work?

First of all, it is important to understand that you can only control yourself. You will not change the narcissist or their outlook on life. However, this method can help you avoid them.

When used correctly, rocking gray will work for some time. In terms of avoiding narcissists and toxic people, the method is very effective for all the reasons explained above. People who exhibit the negative characteristics of a narcissist or bully thrive on interacting with people who respond to their words, both visually and verbally, allowing them to manipulate their behavior. If someone is a gray rock, they are not interesting or show any kind of feedback that these negative people want to reach. This will make a narcissist miserable and they will turn to someone else.

However, it is also important to note that the gray stone method is not a panacea. It’s just a method of avoiding toxic, negative people. The method can also become less successful if used too often.

Related: How to recognize and work with narcissistic leaders

What are some benefits of the gray stone method?

When it comes to the holidays and interacting with family or co-workers, it’s just not possible to completely avoid the people you might not speak to for the other 11 months of the year. Therefore, gray rocking becomes useful for keeping the peace and avoiding conflict.

Other benefits of rocking gray include less stress, less anxiety, feeling empowered, better emotional health, better mental health, and realizing that you can set boundaries.

What are some negative effects of the gray stone method?

While rocking gray is a strategy designed to avoid toxic people or uncomfortable and negative situations, there are some potential side effects of using the strategy.

With too much use, rocking gray can lead to loneliness and withdrawal. Even though this is goal-directed behavior, it does result in less interaction with people. This can lead to negative consequences for mental health. It is important to keep this in mind: too much isolation can lead to loneliness and depression.

And while gray rocking can be successful in moderation, they can realize what’s going on if you use the strategy against the same person too many times. This could lead to the opposite effect of what you’re looking for: the bully might realize that he does indeed have power over your life because he’s forcing you to behave differently than you normally would.

If you use the gray stone strategy and find yourself experiencing negative mental effects, seek professional help.

Related: Your narcissism is killing your employees’ productivity. How to avoid the pitfalls.

What if the gray stone method doesn’t work?

There are several alternatives for avoiding people, conversations, and situations that someone doesn’t want to be in. The gray stone method is one strategy, but you can try other techniques as well.

You could try avoiding the individual or group of people, although this will be especially difficult during the holiday season. If you are forced to be around the narcissistic person, you can try to set clear boundaries for the conversation, be assertive, and maybe 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 swing method. Use the strategy you think best fits your situation and the dynamic personalities you’ll be dealing with this holiday season (and beyond).

Related: How to deal with a toxic co-worker

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