8 classic tactics manipulative people use to gain the upper hand

Ever bumped into someone who always seems to get their way, no matter what? Well, there’s a good chance you’ve crossed paths with a manipulative person.

These people are super clever at twisting situations and people to work in their favor. And the crazy part?

Most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re being played until it’s too late.

Manipulative people pack a sneaky set of tricks they use to control others. It’s not exactly fair play, but it sure works for them.

But don’t sweat it! By the end of this article, you’ll be clued up on these 8 classic tricks. Once you know what to look out for, it becomes way easier to stop these folks from taking you for a ride.

1. Playing the victim card

Ever notice how some people always seem to be the ‘victim’? No matter what the situation is, they somehow twist it around to make it look like they’re the ones being wronged.

This is a classic trick manipulative folks use to gain your sympathy and attention.

They’re experts at playing the victim card, making you feel sorry for them.

The goal? To distract you from the real issue and make you feel guilty for standing up for yourself.

Before you know it, you’re apologizing when you’ve done nothing wrong, while they get off scot-free. It’s a sneaky tactic, but now that you’re aware of it, you’ll be able to spot it a mile off.

Remember, there’s a difference between someone who’s genuinely hurting and someone who’s just playing the victim. Trust your gut and stand your ground. 

2. Gaslighting

This word might sound like something out of a horror movie, but trust me, it’s scarier in real life.

Gaslighting is when someone messes with your mind to make you doubt your own memory, perception, or sanity.

They’ll deny things happened, twist facts around, or make up new ones to confuse you.

Imagine this: You’re sure that your friend promised to help you move house this weekend.

But when you ask them about it, they flat out deny it. They say it never happened and suggest that maybe you’re forgetting things.

This is gaslighting in action. And it’s a powerful trick because over time, it can make you question your own reality.

3. The silent treatment

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? One moment you’re having a heated discussion with someone, and the next, they’ve gone completely silent.

I remember a time when I had a disagreement with a friend. Instead of talking it through, they just stopped responding. They wouldn’t answer my calls or reply to my texts. It was like I didn’t exist!

This is a classic tactic known as the ‘silent treatment’. It’s when someone deliberately ignores you or refuses to communicate as a form of punishment.

They want to make you feel guilty for disagreeing with them or standing up for yourself.

The silent treatment can be really tough to deal with. But remember, everyone has a right to express their opinions and feelings. Don’t let anyone manipulate you into silence!

4. Projecting their behavior onto you

Have you ever been accused of something that the accuser is clearly guilty of? Welcome to the world of projection. This is when manipulative people shift their own bad behavior or traits onto you.

A fun fact to spice things up: Projection is actually a psychological defense mechanism. We all do it to some extent. It’s our subconscious way of dealing with feelings we can’t accept in ourselves.

But manipulative people take it to a whole new level. They’ll blame you for things they’re clearly doing themselves.

For example, they might accuse you of being selfish when they’re the ones never willing to compromise.

Next time someone accuses you out of the blue, take a step back and observe.

Are they really talking about you, or are they projecting their own actions onto you? It’s a fascinating insight into human behavior, isn’t it?

5. Love bombing

Now, this one may sound like a good thing. Who doesn’t want to be showered with love and affection? But here’s the catch: with manipulative people, it’s not genuine.

Love bombing is when someone overwhelms you with loving words, actions, and behavior to win you over.

They’ll make grand gestures, constantly compliment you, and may even talk about a future together way too early.

It’s like a bright, shiny whirlwind of love that sweeps you off your feet. But underneath it all, it’s just a tactic to control and manipulate you.

I know it’s hard to hear this, especially if you’re in the middle of such a whirlwind. It feels amazing to be loved and cherished this way.

But remember, real love isn’t about control or moving too fast; it’s about mutual respect and understanding.

6. Keeping score

Ever had someone remind you of a favor they did for you ages ago, just when they need something from you? Well, I’ve been there.

I had a friend who used to keep track of every single favor he did for me. And when he needed something, he’d bring up the old favors as a way to guilt-trip me into helping him. It felt like he was keeping score in a game I didn’t sign up for.

This is a classic manipulation tactic. People who do this are basically saying that because they did something for you in the past, you owe them now.

It’s important to remember that favors and kindness should never come with strings attached.

Genuine friendships are about giving and taking without keeping a tally. 

7. Guilt-tripping

Guilt is a powerful emotion, and manipulative people know just how to use it to their advantage.

Guilt-tripping is when someone makes you feel so bad about not doing what they want, that you end up doing it just to relieve the guilt.

They’ll play on your emotions, painting themselves as the disappointed or hurt party and you as the wrongdoer.

It’s like being emotionally blackmailed. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you give in, they get their way. If you don’t, you’re left feeling like a terrible person.

But let’s cut through the noise and tell it like it is: this is manipulation, clear and simple. You shouldn’t be forced into doing something out of guilt.

Stand your ground and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for making choices that are right for you. 

8. Isolating you from others

This is a big one, folks. Manipulative people often try to cut you off from your support network. They might badmouth your friends, create misunderstandings, or make you feel guilty for spending time with others.

This tactic is often used in cults to control their members. By isolating individuals from outside influences, they become easier to control and manipulate.

If someone is trying to sever your ties with your loved ones or making you choose between them and your friends or family, that’s a massive red flag.

Remember, anyone who genuinely cares for you would never make you sacrifice important relationships for them.

Stay connected to your loved ones and trust them if they express concerns about someone’s behavior towards you. It takes a village to keep each other safe from manipulation!

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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