How to recognize manipulative behavior
Contributor(s): Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a licensed psychotherapist in Wisconsin, specializing in addictions and mental health. She provides therapy for people struggling with addictions, mental health issues, and the effects of trauma, both in health care settings and in private practice settings. She received her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Marquette University in 2011.
Number of sources used in this article: 8. You will find a list of them at the bottom of the page.
Number of views of this article: 51 963.
Manipulating means trying to indirectly influence someone’s behavior or actions. Manipulation does not have to be good or bad: a person can try to manipulate others either out of the best of motives or to get the other person to do something illegal. Manipulation is always covert and often directed at our weaknesses, so it is difficult to detect. The cunning that accompanies manipulation can be subtle and easily overlooked because it is often hidden behind a sense of duty, love, or habit. Nevertheless, it is possible to recognize the signs of manipulation and not give in to it.
- If your interlocutor wants to hear you first, it does not always mean that he is trying to manipulate you. Other factors should also be considered.
- The manipulator tries to talk about himself as little as possible and listen to you more.
- If this behavior occurs most of the time, it may indicate that they are trying to manipulate you.
- Even if you feel that the person is genuinely interested in you, remember that such inquiries may have ulterior motives. If the person avoids answering your questions directly, and tries to quickly move the conversation to another topic, it may indicate that they are not being sincere.
- For example, someone may treat you to a great meal and speak to you affectionately before asking you to borrow money or help with a job.
- While this behavior is often not dangerous, remember that you are not obligated to do something just because someone is being nice to you.
Pay attention to attempts to coerce. A manipulator may try to coerce you into doing something through intimidation and threats. He may yell, criticize, and insult you in an attempt to get his way. You may hear him say, “If you don’t do it, I . ” or “I won’t do it until you do it. “. The manipulator may use such tactics not only to force the interlocutor to do certain things, but also in return for promising to stop doing something.  X Source of Information
Pay attention to the way the person handles the facts. If your interlocutor treats facts too freely in order to convince you of something, he or she may be trying to manipulate you. The person may lie, understate, withhold information, pretend to be ignorant, or exaggerate. The manipulator may also pretend to be an expert on a subject and inundate you with facts and statistics. In doing so, he will try to appear to be much more knowledgeable than you are.  X Source of information  X Source of information
How to recognize a manipulator: 10 dangerous behavioral tactics
Manipulators are people who have an uncanny way of making us believe that they are charming, benevolent and kind. But by the time we realize otherwise, we find ourselves in their net of subtle deception, mind games, and control.
They know how to manipulate people, manage their emotions, and control the outcome to their advantage.
I’m sure you’ve experienced manipulation in relationships before, and it took some time before you tasted the bitterness.
Over time, you realized that situations were getting weird and you just couldn’t rely on that person.
You may have noticed that you feel uncomfortable, irritable or confused in the presence of the manipulator.
There is a toxicity that lingers in the air when you spend time with him or her.
It can be quite distressing to end the relationship with the manipulator, especially if you are trying to be kind and reasonable.
You will get nothing but manipulation and attempts to use your kindness in return .
You have probably heard the expression “The best defense is a good offense,” and I fully support this strategy when it comes to manipulators.
If you want to avoid pain and suffering in a relationship with a manipulator, you need to know their tactics, and know how to communicate with a manipulator.
Ten cunning manipulator tactics to watch out for
The manipulator sharpens your weaknesses
A manipulator knows how to find your weaknesses, putting you in awkward positions and undermining your confidence.
He observes your behavior very closely and asks questions to reveal any dark secrets or weaknesses you might have.
He may also create comfort for you because you are sensitive, warm and generous — qualities he knows he can spin to his advantage.
The manipulator sees your good heart as a weakness, not a positive character trait.
Initially, it may seem flattering that this person takes such an interest in you.
He may offer sympathy and support to distract you from his ulterior motives.
And that brings me to my next tactic.
The manipulator exploits your weaknesses and your generosity
As soon as this person discovers your weakness, he begins to “kill.”
The manipulator will use your weaknesses to get you to submit to his will.
He may covertly threaten to blackmail you by pointing out that he has embarrassing information about you.
The manipulator is a master at using your insecurities as a tool to get you to give up some part of yourself in order to serve his interests .
Or the manipulator will use the personal knowledge and trust you have shared with him if you try to retreat or oppose his behavior.
Knowing how kind and generous you are, the manipulator will ask too many questions and use your time and resources.
The manipulator takes advantage of your guilt
One of the controlling manipulator’s favorite tactics is blaming you .
“If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t have gone to your friends today. “
A real friend will come right away and help, unlike you.”
This tactic works especially well on people who are careless or like people, and the manipulator often looks for such a person because he knows they are easy prey .
But manipulators use guilt mercilessly and indiscriminately, even with those who could call them liars and pretenders.
Manipulators like to divert responsibility away from themselves, and they take a strange pleasure in making others feel bad or uncomfortable.
If you expose a manipulator to his spying, find him guilty, he will be outraged and resentful.
You are someone who is not helpful.
You are the selfish, unkind friend, wife, child or helper.
The manipulator plays the victim.
Accusations are just one of the many ways a manipulator can play the victim.
The manipulator will do this not only to get what he wants, but also to get attention.
If you share the same grief or problem, he will always have more painful situations .
Your pain is never as big as his.
Your difficult childhood will not make a manipulator genuinely cry.
Most manipulators are quick to realize that if they appear helpless, wounded, and incapable, they can get other people to take action and take action in their place .
They can be forgiven for bad behavior or laziness because they are victims and “just couldn’t help it.”
Manipulator twists the truth
The manipulator is a master at twisting half-truths.
He will twist his own words to give an element of doubt or confusion to the situation .
He will omit important information or pretend to mean one thing when he says another.
“Oops, I didn’t know the lunch time was specific.” “You didn’t tell me to share the information. You just said it was personal.”
A good manipulator knows how to cover his tracks and confuse his words so much that you begin to doubt yourself.
“I may not have said that.” “I thought we confirmed our wedding date, but apparently we didn’t.”
A manipulator can say all this with a casual look and a calm voice – better than any two-faced politician.
As soon as he notices that you are perplexed, he realizes that you are caught on his hook.
The Manipulator Makes Subtle Hints
A manipulator will not explicitly demean you or point you out.
He has much more understated ways of making you feel bad or unpleasant.
He will say things that may seem harmless, perhaps even helpful or kind, but you may feel negative, hurtful undertones behind the comment.
These passive aggressive comments and subtle innuendos seem like bee stings, and they have the cumulative effect of slowly killing poison.
“Oh, I see you’ve finally decided to wear that dress.” “Do you need help with the calculations? I know how hard math is for you.” “How do you feel about your daughter not getting into the college she wanted to go to?”
If your manipulator knows you well, he will use the most painful place he knows to stick the knife in, without looking cruel or unkind, but with a full understanding of how it affects you.
If you show your resentment, he will deny, deny, and deny again.
“You’re too sensitive. I didn’t mean it at all. I would never hurt you, you know that.”
The manipulator has a childlike reaction to situations
Manipulators are childish bullies at heart.
Perhaps they don’t have the communication skills of mature people.
Or maybe their ego is beyond the norm and they have figured out that using and abusing people gets them what they want .
Either way, it feels like they are stuck in early adolescence, when they can’t reach their goals naturally.
They may resent, cry, complain to others, not give them the support they were promised, or act impulsively.
The emotional maturity of these controlling, manipulative people is usually quite low.
If you respond to their childish behavior with maturity and calmness, it may further contribute to their frustration and anger.
Moreover, manipulators want your attention and make you so anxious and uncomfortable that you will agree to almost any of their demands.
The manipulator blames other people
Part of the manipulator’s victimization game is to blame other people for any problems, failures, or moral lapses.
The manipulator can masterfully point the finger at anyone but themselves, even when it is painfully obvious who exactly is to blame.
Even when they are caught red-handed or they say something wrong or inappropriate, there will always be someone who made them do it or say .
Or they assume that everyone else sees the situation wrong and that only they, the manipulators, understand the “real” truth.
Manipulators will commit to anything that happens directly or indirectly in their lives, but they always refuse to take any responsibility when something goes wrong.
Manipulators see no boundaries.
Manipulators don’t respect your boundaries.
As long as they put up with a lot of resistance, they will continue to say and do things that cross your line of patience.
Sometimes they cross the line even when you ask them to stop.
They may take up too much of your time, show up uninvited, often ask for money or things, bring themselves into your life inappropriately, and do many other things that don’t fit your values, principles, and personal limitations .
Manipulators don’t seem to care that they might offend or bother you.
In fact, they feel offended that you have not immediately responded to all their needs.
The manipulator is a master at relationship imbalance
The manipulator usually loves drama and often uses friends, relatives or work partners to facilitate it.
He knows how to create scenarios and interactions that lead to intrigue, rivalry or jealousy .
He enjoys disharmony and chaos, and will go to great lengths to encourage and promote it.
Manipulators often gossip about other people you know or will tell their friends or family about your bad situations.
Discussing dirty laundry is an art form for a manipulator, and once the confusion has dissipated, they will sit back and enjoy the show .
The manipulator in these situations is trying to remain the only person around you by quarreling with your loved ones.
If you let the manipulator stay in your life, you will surely see your quality of life deteriorate.
This person will infect you with their toxic words and behavior to the point that you lose self-esteem and inner peace.
You may be forced to spend time with a manipulator who is an employee or family member , but you can minimize the time you spend with them and protect yourself from adverse situations.
When you are uncomfortable with your manipulator, try not to react to his behavior.
Don’t allow verbal confusion. Don’t question his lack of respect for your boundaries and values.
Have authority in these situations.
But the best way to deal with a manipulator is not to be complicit in his intrigues .
Armed with knowledge and awareness, you can detect these harmful and destructive actions before inviting a manipulator into your life.