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Revisiting The Nice-Nasty-Nice-Nasty Carrot-and-Stick Pattern

In September 2017, I wrote an article titled The Nice-Nasty-Nice-Nasty Narcissistic Carrot-and-Stick Pattern.  It was one of those articles that “writes itself” because I merely had to copy->paste what someone else had written (in no particular order) and add a little narrative along the way. Two-and-a-half years later, it’s a particularly apropos time to dust off the old article, update it just a smidgen and take it for a spin as the original writer of the quotes is now insisting that they actually do “care” and that I “don’t know” them at all.

I beg to differ…and have their words to prove it.

As the old adage goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” And now for your reading enjoyment, here is the updated version of The Nice-Nasty-Nice-Nasty Narcissistic Carrot-and-Stick Pattern:

You’ve heard of the Carrot & Stick Approach? According to Wikipedia, “It is based on the idea that a cart driver might activate a reluctant mule by dangling a carrot in front it and smacking it on the rear with a stick.” I bet you know someone like this too. They act nice (carrot) and when that fails, they turn nasty (stick). Wash-rinse-repeat, over and over ad nauseum, as if we’re so stupid that we don’t recognize the pattern. Personally, I find it humorous just a little ’round the edges.

Here are real-life quotes from the nice-nasty-nice-nasty pattern as it played out in a “friend’s” life.


If they haven’t always used the nice-nasty-nice-nasty approach on you, narcissists certainly will start when you start growing a backbone. Or worse, go No Contact with them.

They say nice (and, incidentally, absolutely false) things like…

“I just don’t understand why you want to add to your pain
by blocking out family that cares so much about you
and that would love to have the chance to talk to you again…
you should still reach out and talk to family who has always supported you.
It would help you out.”

Splutter-splutter! Assuming “family” includes wildly abusive and neglectful parents, I guess my “friend” went No Contact because he’s a masochist. (Or not!)

But you don’t fall for their “nice” manipulation. You stick to your guns and maintain No Contact.


So the narcissist dishes up some nasty, with a side-dish of False Guilt and a garnish of Love-bombing.

“An email every once in a while would be nice.
I don’t care if you don’t want contact.
I just want to know how stuff is going every once in a while!
Is that too much to ask?”

And yet you remain unmoved.


Having failed to bend you to their will with a “stick,” the narcissist now produces a juicy, orange “carrot.” Nevermind that it’s all bullshit. They actually think you’re stupid enough to fall for a crumb of “niceness.” They always do play us for saps, don’t they?

“Let me know if you want me
to put some really nice hard wood floors
in your little place.”

To quote Barry Kripke in The Big Bang Theory, “Do I wook wike I just fell off the tuwnip twuck?”


Having failed to seduce you back into the Narcissistic Mind-F*ck with the “irresistible” lure of a hardwood floor…they brandish their stick.

“Why don’t you just go jump off a bridge…”

This followed an actual death threat which prompted my “friend” to get an Order for Protection (which was violated) and a scam intended to steal my “friend’s” car. Luckily, he didn’t fall for it.


But the holidays are a time for warmth, for family, for hearth and home. But not without a barb.

“Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope you’re having a good thanksgiving
up there by yourselves.”


Forced to savor their turkey and stuffing alone, the wheel again turns. They play the nasty card. And this is one of my favorites!

“Bitch please…neither of you deserve to have family.”

Classic, isn’t it!?! I am the person referred to as “bitch,” by the way.


And then they turn nice again. The carrot is peeled, dripping with delectable Vitamin A and waggled under our very noses. But there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. We must break No Contact and share our phone number to get the carrot.

“I am going to help you guys out.
I would like to get your phone number
so I can reach out to you guys.”

“Help”!?! Keep reading!


Then they pull out the “narcissist” card and sling that word right back at you.

“…you are the narcissist
you are toxic…”

Projection! Very predictable! No surprise there! Saw that one coming!


But as surely as the stick is wielded, the carrot is dangled yet again. But it’s getting a little black and slimy on the ends, looks a little unappetizing. The carrot is losing the power it never had.

“I will be setting up a lot of donation things down here to help [you] out.”

And this from someone who posted vile comments actively attempting to prevent anyone from donating to a medical fundraiser I had set up to meet the medical needs of my “friend.”


And finally, they’ve reached the end of their tether. They’re done! Not that they’ll stop picking at you, trying to get you to break your No Contact resolve. Never! But they let the cat out of the bag. Major stick!

“I hope [you] suffer until the day [you] die!”

And that is where the story ends………

Wait! Hold the phone!!! It didn’t end there! There’s more.

In mid-June 2018, this same individual posted this comment on my professional Facebook Page:

“All they do is live off and fraud the system …
[Lenora’s] address is … for anyone what wants
to send her hate mail for all of the lies
and made up bs she has ever posted on here
to make herself look good.”

I exclude the profanity and swearing.

There has never been an apology nor will I believe and accept one at this late date. But it never fails to surprise me how some people just can’t grasp the concept: Since you obviously you don’t want the work of caring for your own family member, then it’s good form not to piss off caregiver who does it out of the goodness of her heart. You don’t have to thank me. You never have. I don’t want it. But if you truly loved the one I care for, you wouldn’t have attacked us relentlessly for years.
In 2017, I concluded the original version of this article with a poem by Carl Sandburg we memorized in first grade. It still holds true.

Look out how you use cruel words.
When you let mean words go,
it is not easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots;
they walk off proud; they can’t hear you calling–
Look out how you use vile words.

Revisiting The Nice-Nasty-Nice-Nasty Carrot-and-Stick Pattern

Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2020). Revisiting The Nice-Nasty-Nice-Nasty Carrot-and-Stick Pattern. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Apr 2020
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