After appearing on Dr. Taylor Marshall’s show to discuss Christian Boundaries against Narcissists, I got numerous emails similar to this: “My spouse is a narcissist. I can’t divorce him. I can’t always grey-rock him. What else can I do?” (That is not a direct quote of anyone, but it is a summary of numerous emails I received.)
In this video, Dr. Ramani explains how to go low-contact with a narcissist in your life. She says, “Low-contact is exactly what it sounds like: Really only the most essential contact… Low-contact is tight: Only essential communication, nothing but the facts. No emotion and only when necessary… Grey-Rocking is something that can be an add-on to low-contact. Grey Rocking is emotionless, flat, uninteresting: ‘Yes… No… Ok.’ It’s you not taking the bait. But Grey-Rocking is a very tricky strategy: Being flat and not taking the bait can get a narcissist very agitated.”
But then she says some shockingly bad news: “I’ve honestly heard just as much bad come out of Grey-Rocking as good.”
Dr. Ramani then references her friend Tina Swithin who explains the Yellow-Rock method as this: “The yellow rock method is a spin on the gray rock method. It involves adding some niceties to gray rock communication. Its name comes from the idea that a yellow rock appears friendlier, warmer and more inviting than a gray rock. However, it is still ultimately gray rock and unlikely to hold a narcissist’s interest for a prolonged period.” Swithin says that even with a spouse, one may have to “envision yourself talking to a colleague or an employer. Communication should be courteous and true to who you are, sans emotion and small talk.”
Swithin also says that within the Yellow-Rock method of dealing with a narcissist you can’t escape you may have to “take control of false narratives with a statement like, ‘I disagree with your version of events and prefer to put this behind us. Can we move forward and bring the conversation back to Amy’s soccer enrollment?’ She suggests, “When triggered by the narcissist’s attempts to derail you, step away from the communication and revisit it after getting yourself re-centered.” One can even “celebrate communication victories when they occur and don’t allow negative interactions to cause you to abandon your efforts. Consistency is key.”
Even though I have no evidence either of these women are Catholic, I do believe it is good advice for any Christian dealing with a narcissist. On Dr. Marshall’s podcast, I probably made it sound like Grey-Rocking is easier than it is, especially when there’s a narcissist with whom you can’t go non-contact. It is obviously unkind to Grey-Rock everyone with whom you have a problem since we’re called to show Christian charity into everyone’s life so as to bring them to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. Perhaps I should have been more clear on that.
But if you have a validation-seeking and insecure person in your life who is out to manipulate you (and from whom you can’t escape, but is not a physical-threat) I believe the Yellow-Rock method is probably the best way to maintain both Christian charity and Christian boundaries. Yes, we do want to convert everyone to Jesus, but at least our minimal goal needs to be Do No Harm. (That is: Do not sin.) Yellow-Rocking is a decent way to maintain kindness with family-based or business-based narcissists, while at the same time maintaining some sense of personal dignity and Christian boundaries.
In summary, the Yellow-Rock “involves adding some niceties to gray-rock communication. Its name comes from the idea that a yellow rock appears friendlier, warmer and more inviting than a gray rock… Communication should be courteous and true to who you are.”