12 Signs You’re Being Manipulated

People use power, media, and interpersonal relationships to manipulate others. In fact, we encounter true masters of manipulation quite often every day. Manipulation is a form of emotional blackmail.

Manipulators use certain behaviors to influence how other people think, feel, and act, without them noticing.

In effect, the manipulator gets them to do whatever they want. Essentially, manipulation works. But, it only works if you don’t know how the game is played!

The more familiar you are with these tactics, the harder it will be for anyone to use them against you.

In this article, we are going to expose these manipulative tricks so that you can recognize them when they arise.

1. They’re Almost Always Charmers.

Manipulators typically start by acting pleasant and wonderful. They’ll flatter you and try to show that they have good taste, their conversations are super entertaining, and they’re highly sensitive to your expectations.

Once they’ve convinced you of what a great person they are, they start to manipulate you with all their charm.

They spin a net of seduction around you, and you’re unable to evaluate it objectively. Even though you occasionally have doubts, they will always find a way to remind you just how great they are.

2. They Are Overly Complimentary.

Some people are sweet talkers and will try to influence, persuade, and manipulate you by showering you with compliments and praise in an attempt to flatter you and win you over.

Everything they say is like music to your ears. Instead of telling you the truth, they just kiss your ass and tell you want you want to hear.

This is a smart tactic because everyone likes to be complimented, approved of, and told nice things, and compliments are one of the quickest ways to build rapport, make new friends, and get someone to lower their defenses.

Sweet talkers know that when they make you feel good, you’re more likely to want to repay the favor by doing something nice to make them feel good.

And the more you like someone, the easier it is for them to manipulate you.

3. They Ignore You or Play Hard To Get.

Similar to the silent treatment is when someone makes a conscious effort to ignore you or plays hard to get.

Watch out for anyone who tries ANY of the following tactics:

  • They acknowledge everyone in the room, but make a point of ignoring you.
  • They act bored, disinterested, inconvenienced whenever you try to speak to them, as if they had more important things to deal with.
  • They don’t respond to any of your comments, questions, emails, phone calls or messages, and they’re always unavailable or ‘too busy’ whenever you need to speak to them.
  • They leave the room when you enter, and purposely avoid eye contact whenever you speak to them.

Basically, they refuse to acknowledge your existence. When someone ignores you – ignore them.

If they take one step back from you, take ten steps back from them. Or if you need to speak to them, call them out on it, and ask them what their problem is.

4. They Use Emotions.

Some people are masters at emotional manipulation and won’t hesitate to play with your emotions in order to get what they want.

They’ll tell you they love you. Or they’ll tell you they hate you. Or they’ll try to make you angry or sad or jealous, it doesn’t matter. Whatever it takes to get what they want.

Advertisers and the media in particular are the ultimate masters of emotional manipulation. They know if they can make you FEEL something, they can make you DO something. So instead of wasting time trying to convince you logically, advertisers and the media manipulate you emotionally.

They create narratives around products that you can grasp quickly at a simple, emotional level.

Some of them use stories that stretch or aren’t remotely representative of their product’s benefits in order to mislead and manipulate. Whatever it takes to produce the desired result.

It’s a slimy trick – but it’s effective and it works! Don’t let anyone play with your emotions and manipulate you into doing something you shouldn’t.

Your decisions should be based upon a combination of intuition and logic, and not upon the emotional manipulation and trickery of someone else.

5. They Don’t Give You Much Time To Decide.

Unless you are in the middle of a heist, or other time-sensitive situation, there is usually time to think things through before making a big decision.

So be wary of people who pressure you for an answer, especially if money is involved. This is a common sales and negotiation tactic, where the manipulator puts pressure on you to make a decision before you’re ready.

By applying tension and control onto you, it is hoped that you will ‘crack’ and give in to their demands.

6. They Tell Jokes At Your Expense.

Another shitty tactic used by manipulators is making jokes at your expense – especially in front of others.

Maybe they tease you online, or seek to humiliate you in front of others by making fun of the way you walk, talk, or dress, or even worse, about something you can’t control such as your eyes, nose, ears, face, height, or skin color.

To make things worse, if you get angry and ask the manipulator what their problem is, they’ll often try to defend their behavior by saying they were ‘only joking’ or ‘having fun’.

They might even add insult to injury by telling you that you’re being ‘overly emotional’ or ‘too sensitive’.

7. They Make You Feel Guilty.

Since manipulation is all about being powerful, a manipulative person will do anything they can to keep you feeling confused and weak.

Oftentimes, they do this by scrambling your brain with weird apologies and guilt.

A manipulator has trouble accepting responsibility for their behavior, and often if you call them on it, they’ll find a way to turn it around and make you feel bad or guilty.

The manipulator often comes out on top of the argument – right where they want to be.

8. They Yell.

Yelling is another aggressive tactic used to try to intimidate and manipulate you.

Instead of improving their argument, some people will simply improve their volume and will start shouting and yelling at you, or they will suddenly raise their voice and start talking much louder than necessary in an attempt to dominate the conversation and intimidate you into backing down.

If someone starts yelling or shouting at you, or speaking much louder than necessary, it’s best to remain calm, and call them on it in a non-aggressive, non-emotional, matter-of-fact kind of way.

99% of the time this will embarrass the manipulator, and they’ll become extremely self-conscious and uncomfortable, and immediately lower their voice.

9. They Withhold Approval Or Validation.

Another favorite tactic of manipulators everywhere is conditional acceptance, with strings attached.

You only get approval, help, love, validation etc. – if you say, do, or agree to give the manipulator what they want.

However, this tactic only works if you have a habit of seeking approval and validation from others.

When you seek approval from others you give them power over you, and you give them the ability to manipulate your feelings and make you feel like crap at a moment’s notice whenever they feel like it.

Just remember What others can give you, they can also take away. If they can lift you up they can also tear you down.

10. They Devalue What You Do Through Sarcasm.

One thing manipulators hate, is direct communication. They use sarcasm to ridicule you or minimize the value of your thoughts, feelings, or actions. Manipulators want others to feel insecure and inferior.

They deliberately foster the impression that there’s always something wrong with you, and that no matter how hard you try, you are inadequate and will never be good enough.

Significantly, the manipulator focuses on the negative without providing genuine and constructive solutions, or offering meaningful ways to help.

When somebody actually wants to help another, they use direct and sincere communication, and they don’t devalue people.

11. They Are Difficult On Purpose.

Some people just have difficult personalities, and if they sense you want their approval, validation or friendship, they’ll purposely withhold it in an attempt to manipulate you.

The more agreeable you are, the more disagreeable they are. The more you seek approval, the more they’ll withhold it.

This type of person can only ever argue with you but never ever agree. If you say black, they say white. If you say wrong, they say right.

In fact, they’ll go out of their way to be disagreeable and difficult, and not only will they never approve or validate anything you have to say, but they’ll even try to argue with you when you say something they agree with, just for the sake of arguing.

Try not to make any effort to befriend, build rapport, or win over these types of people. Most of them have crappy personalities and aren’t worth your time.

12. They Put The Blame On You.

A master manipulator will trick you into believing that you’re the guilty one. No matter what they did, it’s always someone else’s fault – usually yours. If you get angry at them, it’s your fault for having unreasonable expectations. If they get mad, it’s your fault for upsetting them.

It’ll eventually get to a point where you find yourself automatically apologizing for things you didn’t even do. Do not apologize for something you didn’t do. Let it go. It’s just a power trip.

The truth is that manipulators are everywhere, and they can be anyone. They can be your family, friends, spouse, your boss and workmates; strangers, advertisers or the media. The only thing that varies are the tactics they use, and now you know what they are.

The next time someone tries to manipulate you, you’ll see it coming from a mile away, and you can either choose to ignore it, or you can make a point of calling them out on it.

We want to know what YOU think! Which of these manipulative tactics do you recognize in the behavior of those around you?