It’s not a bad idea to assume that a manipulator in your life is the most self-centered, arrogant and possibly narcissistic person you’ll ever meet.
This is one of the things that, if you remind yourself of it, may raise red flags with you…and you’d be right to heed their warnings. Manipulators do whatever they can to get into your heads, so they can then subtly retrain you to abide by their wishes. They constantly leverage their power against you and make you second-guess yourself.
To help recognize someone manipulating you, look for these signs:
1. Manipulative Sweet Talk is sweet talk that has no substance of value.
It’s just compliments constantly being thrown in your direction so that you let your guard down more easily. They might be compliments your best friend would give you, but you barely know this person. Why are they being so complimentary? If the language doesn’t match the intensity of the relationship, you’re probably dealing with a manipulator.
2. Use of negative humor is how a manipulator gains control over you.
Snarky, sarcastic comments about your later-model smartphone or clothing or how you were running late or anything they can comment negatively -but sarcastically, so it’s funny, right?- on is how manipulators use humor to get into your head.
3. Guilt Trip Mastery is how manipulators -who are truly the last people on the planet anyone should feel sorry for- play victim and get you to feel bad for them.
They often make pleas of desperation, give you the silent treatment, even discuss plans for self-harm or suicide. Though they are rarely actually planning this, that’s something the authorities should decide, not you, so inform them of this person and their plans and get as far away as you can.
4. Outward anger and aggression
When a manipulator is not getting their way they may respond poorly, often with shouting and sometimes with physical aggression. (Note: If a person is physically aggressive towards YOU and their actions physically harm YOU, call the police immediately.) They have also been known to use these outbursts for coercion and to influence you to concede defeat.
5. Abuse of Power
While we are ALL manipulated every day by media, advertising, marketing, etc. the one-on-one manipulator absolutely LOVES power, so they exploit it whenever they can. Sometimes it’s to get further into your psyche, but some just exert this to feel superior to you.
So that’s how you can recognize one. Now, here’s how to protect yourself against one:
- Have an awareness and remember a person’s behaviors and tactics
- Follow your gut. If your gut feeling about a person is that they are manipulative, go with that.
- Decide whether to speak up detach – is this person worth the effort, or is disengagement from them best?
- Consult a professional counselor if you believe someone is trying to psychologically harm you.