10 Signs Of A Manipulative Person and 12 Ways On How To Put A Manipulator In Their Place

By Ruth Jesse

January 10, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Did your partner ever manipulate you? Are they using your generosity, loyalty, and affection to exploit and control you? Do they make you feel guilty, gaslight you, twist your words, and undercut your every move? So, it’s time to pause. The issue of emotional manipulation can destroy even the strongest relationships.

The distinction between psychological manipulation and healthy social influence is crucial. Positive social influence is an essential part of having constructive relationships. Most people have healthy social influence, and most of it comes from each other.

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When someone is used to benefit another, psychological manipulation occurs. Manipulators deliberately create an imbalance of power and exploit victims to suit their agendas.

There is no intention of creating an exhaustive list here but rather to offer examples of both subtle and overt forms of coercion. Some people act in these ways without intending to manipulate you. Other people have bad habits. Even so, it is critical to recognize these behaviors in situations that threaten your safety, security, and rights.

👆 Learn these 10 Signs Of A Manipulative Person and 12 Ways On How To Put A Manipulator In Their Place👆

The most common tricks used by manipulators make you feel irrational and more disposed to agree to their demands. Among them are:

👉 Feelings of guilt

👉 Complaints

👉 Comparisons

👉 Lies

👉 Refusing to acknowledge

👉 Fraudulently pretending to be ignorant or innocent

👉 Accusations

👉 Mind games

🔸 Let’s explore 10 tricks they use to make you feel inadequate or to emotionally blackmail you 🔸

⏺ These people get too close too fast

People who manipulate emotionally often skip the initial get to know you phase. Instead, they reveal their darkest secrets and vulnerabilities right away to the other person.

Their real goal is to get you to tell them your secrets by making you feel special. Later, they can take advantage of your sensitivities.

⏺ Home Court Advantage

Those who are manipulative will likely insist you meet with them in a physical space where they can exert more influence and control. Typically, this can be their office, home, car, or other places they feel they belong and are familiar with.

It can be empowering for a manipulative person to be on their turf. They can try to create an imbalance of power and can make the other person’s life miserable. Their ownership of the space puts the other person at a disadvantage.

⏺ They allow you to speak first and twist your words later

In business relationships, this is standard practice, but it can also apply to personal relationships. A controlling individual may ask probing questions to share their concerns and thoughts early in the process. Then, using your answers, they can manipulate your decisions based on their hidden agenda.

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Lying, fibbing, and misrepresenting the truth are the tools emotional manipulators use to confuse you. The purpose is to make themselves appear more vulnerable by exaggerating events. Likewise, they may understate their role to gain sympathy.

⏺ They engage in intellectual and bureaucratic bullying

Whenever you ask someone a question, they might overwhelm you with statistics, jargon, or facts. Some manipulators impose their “knowledge” on you as if they were the experts. These behaviors are most prevalent in sales or financial situations.

A manipulator may also try to slow you down with paperwork, red tape, procedures, or anything else that gets in the way in the workplace. You may be held accountable for your criticisms or questions if you draw attention to their shortcomings.

⏺ Make you feel guilty for raising concerns

Whenever you’re on to a manipulator, they do this. This is a good way to reverse roles and also to justify their actions. As a way to hide their intentions and achieve the desired result, they make you feel guilty and play the victim.

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Do you ever feel sad or sorry for someone even when you know they are wrong because they have it “way worse than you do”? An emotional manipulation like that is classic.

The best defense is offense, they say. Therefore, they can place blame on you to avoid taking responsibility. Their defensiveness is disproportionate.

This sort of behavior can be caused by either having low self-esteem or fearing judgment.

Despite the present power struggle, they are constantly at war with the rest of the world.

Usually, they’re obsessed with power and struggles.

⏺ They play up their problems while diminishing yours

If you are having a bad day, a negative person will likely bring up their own issues. Your experience is invalidated by their attempt to make you focus on their problems while expending your emotional energy in solving their problems.

⏺ They don’t take responsibility for their actions

A manipulator won’t take responsibility for their misdoings. They never own up to their own actions. However, they might find their own way to blame you for their false actions. You may end up feeling guilty, even when you both know the fault is theirs.

⏺ They always outdo you.

If you’re elated, they’ll try to take you out of the spotlight. It may also happen negatively. A person who manipulates emotions may make their problems seem worse when you have been through a tragedy or setback.

⏺ They take advantage of your insecurities.

Knowing your weak spots can enable them to attack you. Often, they will comment or act in ways intended to make you feel vulnerable and upset.

You may feel guilty for your feelings if someone is manipulating you while you are upset. There may be accusations that you are unreasonable or not sufficiently invested.

⏺ They always criticize you.

A manipulative person often uses emotional abuse to criticize and judge you. She or he maintains her superiority by constantly marginalizing, mocking, and dismissing you. The aggressor intends to intentionally reinforce the idea that no matter how hard you try, you will never be good enough and that there is always something wrong with you.

An essential characteristic of manipulators is that they focus on the negative without offering meaningful solutions or helpful ways to resolve the situation.

💠 12 Ways To Put Manipulators In Their Place 💠

Anyone can be manipulative – your friends, colleagues, and even those you date. Their goal is to identify your weaknesses, take advantage of them, and manipulate you into doing something that serves their interests. They may use positive methods like pretending closeness and insincere flattery, but they will likely use negative tactics like silent treatment, criticism, deception, and emotional abuse.

Having someone manipulate you isn’t nice, so how can you handle people in everyday life who are manipulators? In order to keep your sanity and avoid being manipulated, you can use the following strategies:

⫸ Avoid automatically apologizing

It’s very clever for manipulative people to try and blame you for everything, even when they know it’s not your fault. They enjoy playing the victim. You’re trying to talk to them about what they did wrong one minute, and then you apologize for the next.

There are times when it’s tempting just to apologize to maintain peace, but in doing so, you will only increase their control over you. Manipulative people tend to refuse to accept responsibility for their behavior. Stay calm and do not take responsibility for something you didn’t do.

⫸ Don’t react too quickly

Your defense or explanation of your position will only make you fall deeper into their trap. People who manipulate you want to see how you tick by making you emotionally vulnerable. Your perspective is irrelevant to them, and they won’t listen to your viewpoint.

As you become more emotional, they appear calm and collected. They make you look crazy and themselves as sane ones by creating drama and chaos around you.

Photo credit: survivalreport

Do not engage, no matter what they accuse you of. You may say, “I apologize for how you feel.” and walk away.

⫸ Do not attempt to correct them.

A manipulative person can use any number of tricks. Confronting someone who you know is lying or gaslighting won’t yield the results you want. An individual who manipulates is unlikely to admit their behavior suddenly. Attempting to correct them will only create more anxiety and stress. You won’t win this battle.

⫸ Be clear about your boundaries

People-pleasers with fragile boundaries are easy prey for manipulative people. Identify things that you will accept or reject in your life if you have weak boundaries.

You need to know when to walk away and disengage if the manipulative person keeps crossing your boundaries. If they fail to respect your boundaries, decide ahead of time what the consequences will be.

⫸ Clarify your perspective

Gaslighting is the only way manipulative people trick you into questioning your perception of events, leading you to question your own actions. Sooner or later, you will apologize and not believe in yourself. These things are what they want, as they can then control you. You deserve to be heard, so be clear about your viewpoint.

⫸ Take time to think about your decisions

Manipulative people sometimes expect you to answer them immediately. Do not give in to their pressure. You should tell them “I’ll think about it” if you need some time to consider an agreement. It is better to think things through before you cave without thinking things through.

⫸ Maintain a safe distance

When a person acts differently in front of different people and different situations, you can tell if the person is a manipulator. Even though we all have a level of social differentiation, some psychological manipulators automatically gravitate to extremes, being highly polite to one person and completely rude to another –or being completely helpless one minute and fiercely aggressive the next.

You should keep a healthy distance from an individual who exhibits this behavior on a regular basis and avoid engaging with them unless necessary. Chronic psychological manipulation is due to a variety of complex and deep-seated factors. The problem is not yours to fix.

⫸ Start saying no to them

Practicing the art of communication is learning how to say “no” diplomatically but firmly. Clearly stated, this allows you to maintain a workable relationship while standing your ground. You have the fundamental right to choose your own priorities, to say “no” without feeling guilty, and to live a happy and healthy life.

An intelligent manipulator might initially annoy you, but he will try to persuade you otherwise anyway. Keep saying “no” no matter how much they try, and eventually, they’ll give up.

⫸ Pose probing questions to focus their attention

A psychologically manipulative person will always want more from you (or demand more from you). You often have to go out of your way to meet these “offers.” You can ask probing questions to find out if the manipulator has enough self-awareness to recognize the unfairness of the arrangement.

A question like that serves as a mirror, allowing manipulators to see the true nature of their ploy. The manipulator will withdraw the demand if they have any degree of self-awareness.

True pathological manipulators, at the same time, will ignore your questions. However, you can always stop their manipulating tactics and put them in their place.

⫸ Discuss Their Conduct with Them

The next step is taking action after you’ve studied the motivations and techniques behind gaslighting. Gaslighting is most effective when the victim is unaware of what’s happening. Allow the gaslighter to know that you see what they’re doing, and you won’t tolerate it. The payoff might not be worth the effort if you show them you’re onto them. Just be careful how you do it.

Calmly confront your gaslighter instead of becoming heated and going into attack mode. You’ll be able to demonstrate that you’re not enraged about the situation while also understanding what they’re doing.

⫸ Make sure they don’t generalize

It is a standard manipulative strategy of a person to take a particular situation and blame you for your normal behavior.

For instance, a wife is mad at her husband for forgetting to take out the trash. Even though this was his first time avoiding chores, she chastises him for it regulal, validatiarly.

It’s important not to generalize about things like this. Just ask them if they have experienced similar situations in the past.

⫸ Trust your gut feeling

A people-pleaser finds this problematic. When we look for approvon, or guidance from others, we don’t trust ourselves. The need for positive reinforcement often overpowers our gut feelings. Contrary to manipulators, your gut never lies to you.

A feeling of being off is a feeling of being off. If your boyfriend says all the right things, but you still distrust him, you should. And if you feel someone is trashing you behind your back but they smile to your face, they are.

Don’t ignore these feelings as paranoid. Once you pay attention, they will assist you in disarming a manipulator. Your gut will help in dealing with a manipulator better. If you decide to walk away from a relationship, consider your health, whether that means advocating for yourself or stepping aside. Understand that love does not go well with mind games. Try to live a happy life.

🧐 Conclusion 🧐

The realization that a person in front of you manipulates can be unsettling. Finding out what to do with this discovery is the most disorienting part.

Classic manipulators are often people we know or are in a position of power over. Even if you muster the courage to do so, you may find it difficult to separate yourself from these people.

Maintaining your distance, knowing your rights, and asking questions on their behalf will be sufficient.

It is never shameful to seek professional help if the damage done is too heavy for you to handle on your own.

A therapist or counselor may be able to help you determine how much damage has been done and what you can do about it.

🤔 Relevant Questions 🤔

❓ How do you get revenge on a manipulator?

Let go of them, and live your life fully and joyfully with the people you love. They may or may not die from their (manipulators/cheats) ensuing jealousy and envy. Still, they will lose relevance. Those are the fears they have. Whatever you do, at least you’ll lead a life full of kindness and beauty, full of meaning and worth.

❓ What to say to someone who is manipulating you?

If you find someone is manipulating you, the best thing to do is maintain a safe distance. If they are very close to you, try to calm and healthy conversation telling your feelings. However, if they are still trying to manipulate you, stop taking that emotional abuse and leave them alone.

❓ What are manipulators afraid of?

Manipulators may feel stressed and anxious because they have to conceal themselves for fear of being exposed constantly. Moral crises and ethical conflicts may plague the manipulator quietly but persistently, and they may struggle to live with themselves. A manipulator might feel guilty, embarrassed, or depressed as a result of a guilty conscience.

Ruth Jesse

Ruth is a life coach who specialises in relationships and career development. Outside work, she loves writing novels and guides for personal development.

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