Today I want to explain how to implement the use of the grey rock method when in contact with toxic people.
The objective is to withdraw and refuse any kind of ‘supply’ a toxic person gets from you. That is to say you stop giving them what they want; a reaction, a way to abuse you, their own ego boost, control, and generally anything they can hold over you.
Grey rock method is essentially having rock hard boundaries. Responding (if totally necessary!) to questions about your life or wellbeing with minimal information.
‘How are you?’
‘What have you been up to?’
‘This and that’
‘I heard you lost your job?’
You are trying to avoid engaging them in further conversation and you are refusing to give them any personal information. Even if it’s something you’ve succeeded at or achieved, don’t give them the information they’re after. It will only be used against you, or they may even try to take credit for your accolades!
Don’t ask them questions, don’t engage in small talk, harmless as it may seem, small talk leads to big talk and it’s harder to boundary them once you’ve opened the door even if it’s a chink.
Giving minimal responses and feedback is the only way to avoid getting sucked in (or ‘hoovered’ as some people know it to be) only to be chewed up and spat out.
Grey rock method feels foreign and rude to start with, so to employ it effectively takes practice and self awareness.
‘Why do I want to give them that information?’
‘What can they do with that knowledge?’
‘What right do they have to know?’
‘How will this help me?’
‘How will I feel if this is on the front page of every newspaper?’
This is especially important if for example your toxic person is an ex, and you have children together thereby enforcing contact.
The only thing the parent of your children needs to know is anything that affects or involves the children. Be aware that a toxic parent may use the children as pawns in their game and question whether or not it is in the child’s best interest to be exposed. This is especially true when a toxic person can be defined as a narcissist*.
You do not have to share information with anyone you don’t want to, and thinking about the motivation for doing so will help you boundary yourself more effectively, leading to empowerment and resilience in the face of toxicity.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this method and how easy you might or might not find it.
(*Please note. I am not advocating removing or withholding parental contact without very good reason)