Nobody likes the feeling of being manipulated. It leaves you feeling stupid and taken advantage of. Instead of beating yourself down, the best revenge is to turn the tables on your manipulator and outsmart them.
This article offers you effective tips on how to manipulate a manipulator.
Who Is a Manipulator?
A manipulator is someone who skillfully tries to control situations or people in a fraudulent way. They use tricks to exploit, control, and ultimately influence you to their advantage. Manipulation is the deceitful form of social influence used by unscrupulous people to exploit others.
Manipulation is usually associated with some personality disorders like uncertain personality disorder, egotistic personality disorder, and belligerent personality disorder. This behavior is also attributed to a high level of emotional intelligence and Machiavellian behavior. However, you should not confuse manipulation with having a general influence on people and being persuasive.
Influence and persuasion are generally harmless because they take into account the rights of the people being influenced and persuaded. Therefore, you have a right to either accept or reject the attempt to be influenced. So, they shouldn’t be viewed as excessively coercive.
A persuasive person is someone who can easily move other people to a preferred action to achieve a certain goal. For instance, a persuasive person can influence your beliefs, behavior, and motivation by simply talking to you. Unlike manipulation, which is strictly devious, influence and persuasion are neither positive nor negative.
Signs of a Manipulator
First of all, you need to understand that a manipulator is mainly motivated by their self-serving interests. They want to manipulate you to advance their personal agenda, not to help you. So, they will start by identifying your vulnerabilities and then figure out a way to use them to manipulate you to their advantage.
Therefore, the best way to outsmart a manipulator is to, first of all, understand how they behave. Fortunately, there are several obvious characteristics of a manipulator that will help you to detect them from a mile away. By identifying any of these attributes, you can easily turn the tables and make them look like the fool they are. Here are the main signs of a manipulator.
1. They Play the Victim Card
A manipulator will always play the victim card hoping to make you feel guilty in the name of social or professional conscience, family relations, friendship, romance, etc. Once they’ve influenced your sympathy and guilty conscience, they’ll start controlling your emotions and force you to do what they want.
2. They Never Own Up to Anything
A manipulator will never own up to their mistake. Instead, they’ll unload all their mistakes and responsibilities onto you or dismiss them as trivialities. This will leave you doubting yourself thus allowing them to manipulate you.
3. They’re Always Vague
A manipulator will try to be as vague as possible just to keep you guessing and to create room for disowning their responsibilities when you corner them. They will never communicate their emotions, thoughts, and feelings clearly. They’re vague even in their responses.
Also, they’ll change their opinions, feelings, and behaviors based on the situation or the person they’re speaking with. When making requests, they’ll cite all manner of reasons to try and disguise their true intentions.
4. They’re Self-Centered and Egotistic
A manipulator wants you to believe they’re perfect. They’re always ready for an argument and will never change their mind. They’ll jump into any kind of argument even without facts just to prove that they know everything. When you ask them a question, they are very quick to respond, even if their response is inappropriate.
5. They Divide to Conquer
The divide and rule principle is a manipulator’s greatest tool of the trade. They will create suspicions and stir up hatred among people so that they can get a hold of everyone’s feelings and opinions. Once they drive a wedge between you and your friends or relatives, they will be able to manipulate you.
6. They’re Sympathy Addicts
A manipulator knows how to make themselves a victim to win your sympathy. For instance, they will exaggerate illness, difficulty, situation, or work to make you sympathize with them. If your colleague at work is a manipulator and wants you to help them with their task, they will make it look too complicated or huge for them so that you can help them out.
7. They Use Blackmail
A manipulator is very good at making veiled threats to make you do what they want you to do. If threats don’t work, they won’t hesitate to openly make use of blackmail just to get what they want.
8. They Can’t Handle Criticism
A manipulator thinks they’re the smartest person in the room. So, they won’t be kind to you if you criticize them. They will also deny facts to save their face. A manipulator won’t consider your feelings, needs, or desires.
How to Manipulate a Manipulator
A manipulator will leave you questioning every decision and action you take. They’ll use your vulnerabilities to make you do or say things you wouldn’t say in a normal situation. But you can easily outsmart a manipulator if you pay attention. Here are simple ways to manipulate a manipulator.
1. Turn Down Their Advances
A manipulator will take advantage of certain situations in your life to manipulate you. For instance, a manipulative colleague at work will offer to buy your lunch or a cup of coffee and ask for a favor later on. So, the best way to manipulate them is to turn down their gifts. Never give a manipulator a motive to manipulate you.
2. Focus All the Attention on Them
The last thing a manipulator expects from you is instant revenge. You should pay close attention to them to figure out what they’re about to say so that you can have a counter response that will throw them off. Here are some quick responses that will throw your manipulator off instantly:
• Do you care about how I feel about this?
• Are you prepared to support my decision, even if it makes you uncomfortable?
• How do you expect me to do this when it’s not in my best interest?
• What’s in it for me?
For instance, if your colleague is always trying to manipulate you to help them with their tasks, you should ask them if they’re ready to do your tasks next time. If they want you to do their report, ask them if they’ll do your shift. That will show them how absurd their request is.
3. Look Them in the Eye
As noted above, a manipulator is generally deceptive. So, it makes them uncomfortable when you look them in the eye. You should also look them straight in the eye when you turn down their request. That will make them uncomfortable about playing with your mind.
4. Don’t Allow Them to Generalize
Manipulators often try to take specific situations out of context and turn them around to make you feel ashamed. For instance, your manipulative wife may be angry that you forgot to take out the garbage. So, she’ll accuse you of not doing your chores all the time, even though it was the first time you forgot to take out the trash.
In this case, don’t let her generalize situations like this. Therefore, always ask them for clarification so that you can understand what makes them think that way. One of the best responses would be: Maybe you are right. Can you please remind me of some of the other times that I did this?
5. Be Repetitive
One thing about manipulators is that they never give up easily. So, even if you turn down their request, they’ll always find another way of asking for the same thing. The best thing you can do is to repeat your response as many times as possible so that they get tired of the answer.
You can phrase your response in a variety of ways. Here are some perfect examples:
• I thought you understood me the first time.
• What’s the point of talking to you if you can’t listen to me?
• You don’t understand the simplest things, or you just don’t want to understand me?
6. Ignore Them
A manipulator is a self-centered individual who can’t stand being ignored. So, just ignore them and continue acting like they don’t bother you. Never try to argue with them or correct them because you’ll only fall deeper into their trap. If it’s your boss, just listen to them and then go on with your work.
7. Go on the Offensive
Dealing with a manipulative person can be annoying because they think they’re the smartest human being on earth. So, the best strategy is to knock out their center of gravity and beat them at their game. Just find their center of gravity (a friend, relative, subordinate, skill, or talent) and make it yours. That way, you can throw them off balance and take their focus away from you.