7 sneaky tactics narcissists use to recruit their flying monkey army

Marcel Deer by Marcel Deer | January 29, 2024, 1:45 am

You might not have wings, but there are people out there who want to make you their flying monkey.

In the famous Wizard of Oz book and movie, winged monkeys were enchanted and made to do the bidding of the Wicked Witch of the West.

With her aspirations for global dominance, fantasies of unlimited success, and grandiose sense of self-importance, the Witch represents a classic narcissist.

The flying monkeys, then, represent the people she manipulates into supporting her and enabling her by doing her bidding.

Like the Witch, narcissists will try to make you one of their supporters.

The only difference is that while her monkeys were held under enchantment, real narcissists will use influence, manipulation, and coercion to try to bring you over to their side.

Here are seven sneaky tactics narcissists use to recruit their flying monkey army so that you can recognize and avoid them!

1) Guilting them

Guilt is one of the most popular weapons in the narcissist’s arsenal.

It’s so effective because it preys on other people’s feelings of honesty, obligation, and fairness.

In essence, it’s a tool that uses people’s goodness against them.

Here’s a simple example of how it works.

Suppose a narcissist wants to skip out of work to go do something else, but they don’t want to get in trouble.

They’ll ask someone to cover for them at work, which could even include lying about where they are or what they’re doing. This puts a lot of pressure on that person, and they might feel uncomfortable and try to refuse.

That’s where guilt comes into play.

“You know how stressed I am, and you won’t even do this one little thing for me?” they might demand. Or “I do favors for you all the time, so why can’t you do this for me?” they could ask.

Now, their victim is in trouble. If they refuse to help, they’ll basically be admitting that they’re a bad person!

The narcissist has just used guilt to bring this person over to their side.

2) Gossiping

Narcissists have to be the center of attention.

They need to feel like they’re better than everyone else and that others recognize this and admire them.

So if they see someone else in what they perceive is rightfully their spotlight, they’ll start plotting a way to bring that person down.

This will almost always involve starting and spreading rumors that attack the person in question. 

They’ll spend extra time in public areas waiting to trap people who they can spread their gossip to.

They’ll go way out of their way to bring conversations around to the subject of their target so that they can talk about all the terrible things they’ve done.

The effect this has is that it plants a seed in the mind of each susceptible person. People who aren’t prone to believe gossip are quickly discarded as useless in their endeavors.

But for people who will believe what they hear through the grapevine, the plot often works. These people can find themselves flipped – where previously they supported and respected the target; they now support the narcissist as a seemingly more positive alternative.

3) Eliciting sympathy from them

Narcissists are incredible actors.

They act so much like they’re unique, better than everyone else, and entitled to admiration and special treatment that they actually start to believe it themselves.

Of course, the truth is that deep down, they have self-esteem so low that they can’t bear to even recognize it.

As actors, their favorite roles, and the only two they really ever play, are the victim and the hero.

As the victim, the narcissist will work to convince people that they’ve been wronged and that the person who did it is vile and detestable.

Imagine that a narcissist wants to destroy the reputation of a coworker who was chosen for a promotion over them.

They could fall straight into a victim role and tell select people how they were wronged by being overlooked by management.

They might use every tool at their disposal, even suggesting that their race, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, or other affiliation was the cause, even if they know this isn’t true.

This will elicit sympathy, but it might not be targeted enough.

So they’ll make it more personal by letting it be known that their target, the person who won the promotion, only got it by stepping over them or throwing them under the bus.

They might start false rumors that the other person is a cheat, corrupt, racist, conniving – whatever!

When they target this information at the right people who they know they can make feel sorry for them, they start to gain support and find people who will actually do their nefarious bidding.

4) Being their hero

Let’s look at the previous example through a different lens.

Instead of playing the victim to try to elicit sympathy from potential supporters, a narcissistic master manipulator may choose to play the hero instead.

Imagine the same situation where they’re passed over for a promotion, and they start to spread rumors about the reasons why this happened.

Suppose they choose race, even though they know that this wasn’t the real reason they didn’t get the job.

Instead of playing the victim, they might decide to play the role of the hero, specifically, a person bold and confident enough to stand up to tyranny.

They’ll round up supporters by telling them that they’ll expand their personal fight to include all people who may be disadvantaged or face discrimination.

Sounds great, right?

If only it were true, and they weren’t just motivated by their own personal agenda.

This is one extremely sneaky tactic narcissists use to recruit followers to their flying monkey armies.

5) Empowering them

Sometimes, it’s as easy as finding people who already have the same intentions but just don’t have the guts to do anything about them.

This makes perfect sense because it’s the easiest way to get people on board with you.

Think about it.

Rather than trying to lie, guilt, or otherwise manipulate people into helping them, they just look for people who already have the same motives.

Imagine a narcissist who wants a job currently occupied by someone else.

To get it, they could plan to discredit that person or otherwise bring them down. They could try to spread false information about them, but wouldn’t it be even easier to just find people who already don’t like the person?

They can simply set a fire under these people by coaching them and encouraging them to do something about it, and – BAM! – they have new recruits for their flying monkey army.

By empowering the people who already have a similar opinion or agenda, these manipulators may be able to get the job done through their proxies without ever having to lift a finger themselves.

6) Offering fake friendship 

A friend of mine once told me a story that was meant as a powerful allegory for narcissists.

There was a high-ranking nobleman who was born the same day as the son of an Egyptian pharaoh. They grew up together, playing, learning, and sharing their meals. They were best friends.

And then, one day, when the son had inherited the pharaoh’s throne, he ordered his friend to bring his wife to him so he could have sex with her.

The friend tried to refuse, but the pharaoh said he would have the couple killed if his command was not carried out.

What this sad story illustrates is that narcissists don’t really have friends. Friends are, by definition, equals, but narcissists don’t believe that anyone is their equal.

They’ll intentionally look for people who seem to have few friends and extend to them an olive branch.

A lonely person will be glad for any offer of friendship, and this is how the narcissist pulls them into their trap.

Of course, they’ll eventually learn that the friendship was fake and will probably be discarded as soon as they’re no longer useful to the narcissist.

7) Taking advantage of weaknesses

Narcissists won’t only take advantage of lonely people. 

They’ll exploit any weaknesses they can to turn people over to their side.

They will target people who are unpopular, unintelligent, or even suffering from mental health issues as potential flying monkeys.

It’s easy to understand why.

The weak are easily preyed upon, and the narcissist portrays themself as a hero or savior so that these people will feel truly indebted to them.

Once that relationship is set up, they’ll do the narcissist’s bidding as though they were under an enchantment.

Final thoughts:

These seven sneaky tactics narcissists use to recruit their flying monkey army are extremely manipulative and underhanded.

But there’s hope. 

In The Wizard of Oz, the winged monkeys are released from their enchantment by Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. In real life, recognizing these tactics can help you free yourself and others from the grips of narcissists who would use you for their own gains!