If someone is secretly manipulating you, they’ll often use these 9 subtle tactics

Isabella Chase by Isabella Chase | May 24, 2024, 5:32 am

There’s a fine line between influencing and manipulating.

Manipulation is often hidden, with the manipulator pulling strings from the shadows without you realizing what’s happening.

Being influenced, on the other hand, is a more transparent process. You’re aware of the suggestions being made, and you have the final say in your actions.

Manipulators can be crafty, using subtle tactics that fly under your radar. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

We’re going to explore 9 of these sneaky tricks, so you can spot them when they’re being used on you. Stay tuned for some eye-opening insights.

1) They make use of your guilt

Manipulators are masters at playing with emotions, and one of their favorite tools is guilt.

Guilt can be a powerful motivator. It’s an uncomfortable feeling that we instinctively want to get rid of. A manipulator knows this and will use it to their advantage.

Picture this. You’re confronted with a decision, and you’re leaning towards an option that doesn’t favor the manipulator.

They sense this and start to play the guilt card. They might mention how much they’ve done for you in the past, or how much they’re counting on you now. The aim is to make you feel guilty for not choosing their preferred option.

Don’t fall for this. You’re allowed to make decisions based on what’s best for you, not what makes someone else happy.

2) They constantly play the victim

Manipulators often have a knack for playing the victim.

I’ve personally experienced this with an old friend. No matter what happened, she would always paint herself as the innocent party being taken advantage of. It didn’t matter if she was clearly in the wrong, the narrative was always twisted to make her the victim.

This is a common tactic used by manipulators. By portraying themselves as victims, they aim to evoke sympathy and guilt. This often results in you bending over backwards to help them, sometimes even compromising your own needs and wellbeing.

Keep an eye out for this tactic. It’s one thing to support a friend in need, but another entirely to be manipulated into constantly sacrificing for someone who’s playing the victim.

3) They use confirmation bias to their advantage

Manipulators often leverage confirmation bias as a subtle tactic.

This is a psychological principle where individuals are more likely to believe information that supports their existing beliefs and dismiss information that contradicts them.

For instance, a manipulator may present data or ‘facts’ that align with your existing preconceptions, making it easier for you to accept their point of view. And because it aligns with your beliefs, you’re less likely to question the validity of the information.

This sneaky tactic can be difficult to spot, but being aware of it is your best defense. Always question information that’s presented to you and don’t hesitate to seek out alternative perspectives.

4) They twist your words

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where what you said was spun into something entirely different? You’re not alone. This is a classic maneuver used by manipulators.

They’ll take your words and subtly twist them, often making you doubt your own memory or interpretation. It’s a form of gaslighting, designed to make you question your reality and, in turn, become more susceptible to their influence.

In conversations with potential manipulators, be conscious of your words. If you notice them consistently being distorted, take note. It could be a sign that someone is trying to manipulate you.

5) They use your insecurities against you

Manipulators are adept at identifying your weaknesses, particularly insecurities, and using them against you.

They’ll subtly highlight these insecurities in conversations or situations, making you feel vulnerable. In this state of vulnerability, you’re more likely to lean on them for support, putting you right where the manipulator wants you.

This tactic can be incredibly damaging to your self-esteem. If you notice someone routinely making you feel insecure or using your insecurities in a harmful way, it might be time to reconsider that relationship.

6) They give you compliments…but only when it serves them

Who doesn’t love a genuine compliment? It can brighten your day and boost your self-esteem. However, when compliments are used as a tool for manipulation, they lose their charm.

Manipulators will often shower you with praise, but only when it suits their agenda. They use kind words as a means to win your trust and favor. Once they’ve got you feeling good about yourself and indebted to them for their kind words, they’re able to exert more influence over you.

Remember, true compliments are given freely, not with strings attached. If someone’s praise seems conditional or manipulative, trust your instincts.

7) They avoid answering your questions directly

I once had a coworker who was a master at evading direct answers. Whenever I’d ask him a question, he’d deflect, change the subject, or give an answer that didn’t really address my original query.

Looking back, I realize this was a manipulation tactic. By not giving direct answers, he maintained control of the conversation and kept me off balance. It was like trying to pin down a shadow – you’re left feeling frustrated and uncertain.

If you notice someone consistently avoiding your questions, it might be more than just an annoying habit. It could be a subtle form of manipulation.

8) They use silent treatment as a weapon

Silence isn’t always golden, especially when it’s used as a weapon. Some manipulators use the silent treatment to punish you, control you, or get what they want.

When you’re on the receiving end of the silent treatment, it can make you feel anxious, guilty, or desperate to make things right. This is exactly what the manipulator wants – to unsettle you and make you more likely to give in to their demands.

Don’t let someone else’s silence control your actions or emotions. It’s a form of manipulation that’s as damaging as any harsh word.

9) They make you feel obligated to them

Manipulators have a knack for making you feel like you owe them. They might remind you of times they’ve helped you in the past, or make it seem like they’ve gone out of their way for you.

The goal is to create a sense of obligation. You start to feel like you should do what they want because they’ve done so much for you. But it’s important to remember, genuine kindness doesn’t come with an expectation of payback.

Don’t let anyone make you feel obligated to act against your best interests. Your decisions are your own. Stand firm in your choices.

Final thoughts

Understanding manipulation tactics is more than just an academic exercise. It’s about equipping yourself with the knowledge to navigate complex social interactions, protect your mental health, and foster authentic relationships.

Remember, manipulation is often subtle. It can slip under your radar if you’re not vigilant. But now that you’re aware of these tactics, you’re in a position to identify and resist them.