9 classic tactics manipulative people use to gain your trust

Manipulation is a slippery slope. It’s the crafty art of making others do what you want, often without them even realizing it.

Unfortunately, manipulative people have honed this skill, and they know exactly how to gain your trust while hiding their true motives.

Understanding these tactics is key to staying one step ahead.

And, as someone who’s been there, I can tell you that there are classic strategies manipulative individuals use time and again.

In this article, we’ll dive into 9 classic tactics manipulative people use to gain your trust. We’ll learn how to identify and navigate them, keeping you in control of your choices.

Let’s get started.

1) Playing the victim

We all have our ups and downs, that’s just life.

But there are some people who seem to have it worse than everyone else, all the time.

Have you ever noticed how manipulative people often portray themselves as victims?

They’re masters of turning every situation into a sob story.

Don’t be fooled and don’t feel bad for them – this is a classic tactic they use to gain your trust. By presenting themselves as helpless or misunderstood, they evoke your sympathy.

And there’s nothing wrong with feeling empathy for someone else’s struggles.

But here’s the catch – they use your kindness as a tool to control you.

You find yourself going out of your way to help them, to make them feel better. Before you know it, they’re dictating your actions, all under the guise of your good intentions.

So next time someone plays the victim card a little too often, take a step back. It could be a genuine cry for help, but it could also be a manipulative tactic. 

2) Flattery will get you everywhere

We all love a little bit of praise now and then. It’s human nature to want to feel appreciated and acknowledged, after all. 

But there’s a fine line between genuine compliments and flattery with an ulterior motive.

I remember a former colleague of mine who was a master at this.

She was always full of compliments, telling me how brilliant my ideas were or how well I handled difficult situations.

Initially, it felt great. I felt valued and respected.

But over time, I noticed a pattern.

Every time she needed a favor or wanted me to take on extra work, she’d start with the flattery. It was a classic case of manipulation – using praise to get me to do what she wanted.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about complimenting others. But when it’s used as a tool to gain your trust and manipulate you into doing something, that’s where it becomes a problem.

So next time someone lays it on thick with compliments, take a moment to consider their motives.

Is it genuine appreciation or just another manipulation tactic?

3) Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation technique that makes you question your own reality.

The term originates from a 1938 play called “Gas Light,” where a husband manipulates his wife into believing she’s going insane by subtly adjusting the gas-powered lights in their home.

This tactic is often used by manipulative people to create confusion and sow seeds of doubt.

The goal is to make you second-guess your own memory, perception, or sanity. Once they’ve achieved this, they can easily control and influence your decisions.

You might hear things like, “You’re overreacting,” “That never happened,” or “You’re being too sensitive.”

The truth is, these are all classic gaslighting phrases that are designed to undermine your confidence and self-esteem.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, remember it’s not you – it’s them.

Don’t let anyone distort your reality or make you question your own judgment.

4) The guilt trip

Ah, the guilt trip.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of this at some point.

It’s a classic manipulation tactic designed to make you feel bad about not doing what the manipulator wants.

In other words, it’s a form of emotional blackmail.

They play on your feelings of guilt and obligation to get what they want.

Phrases like, “After all I’ve done for you,” or “I thought you cared about me,” are often used to make you feel selfish or unkind.

Essentially, they’re trying to make you forget that you’re entitled to your own feelings and decisions.

Don’t let anyone use guilt to control or manipulate you. Stand your ground and make choices based on what’s right for you, not out of feeling guilty.

5) Love bombing

pic1754 9 classic tactics manipulative people use to gain your trust

Love bombing is a tactic often used by manipulative individuals, where they shower you with excessive affection and attention to gain your trust quickly.

This is what I experienced, amongst other things listed in this article, and let me tell you, it’s a pretty effective tactic.

This can be in the form of constant messages, compliments, gifts, or declarations of love and commitment very early in the relationship.

Essentially, the aim is to make you feel special and loved.

This gets you hooked and emotionally invested in them. Once they have your trust and affection, they’ll start to manipulate and control you.

Although it’s nice to feel loved and appreciated, being love-bombed can be quite overwhelming.

If it’s too much too soon, it might be a sign that something’s not quite right. Listen to your gut feeling and take things at your own pace.

6) Playing on your fears

Fear is a powerful emotion.

It can make us do things we wouldn’t normally do.

And manipulative people know this all too well.

They have a knack for figuring out what scares you the most, and then using it to their advantage.

It could be the fear of being alone, losing your job, or disappointing someone you care about.

I’ve seen it happen to good people, manipulated into staying in toxic relationships or making decisions they’re not comfortable with, all because they were played by their fears.

It’s heartbreaking to witness.

But remember, no one should ever use your fears against you.

If someone does, it’s a clear sign of manipulation. A genuine person would never dream of using your vulnerabilities for their own gain. 

7) The silent treatment

I remember once when I made a minor mistake at work. Instead of discussing it with me, my boss gave me the silent treatment for days.

It was a form of punishment – a way to make me feel guilty and anxious.

The silent treatment is a manipulative tactic that’s designed to make you feel insignificant and powerless.

Ultimately, it forces you to seek their approval and work harder to get back in their good graces.

But here’s the thing: open communication is crucial in any relationship, whether it’s personal or professional.

Silence should never be used as a tool for manipulation or punishment. If you’re on the receiving end of the silent treatment, it might be time to reconsider that relationship.

8) Negative surprises

Life is full of surprises, not all of them pleasant.

But when someone consistently springs negative surprises on you, it could be a manipulative tactic.

Whether it’s canceling plans at the last minute, forgetting important dates, or consistently letting you down, these actions are designed to keep you off balance and uncertain.

This unpredictability is a way for manipulative individuals to maintain control.

And it makes sense:

By keeping you in a state of constant turmoil, they can easily steer your actions and decisions.

Everyone makes mistakes and forgets things sometimes.

But when it becomes a pattern, it’s not about forgetfulness anymore. It’s manipulation. 

9) Exploiting your weaknesses

And finally, manipulative people have a knack for identifying and exploiting your weaknesses. They use this knowledge as a tool to gain power over you.

Maybe you’re insecure about your looks, your job, or your ability to make friends.

Whatever it is, a manipulator will find it and use it against you.

They’ll make subtle comments or jokes that poke at your insecurities, making you feel bad about yourself.

This chips away at your self-esteem, making you more susceptible to their influence.

But here’s the most important thing to remember: your worth is not defined by what others think of you.

Don’t let anyone play on your insecurities or make you feel less than. You are enough, just as you are.

Wrapping it up: Awareness is power

Understanding these tactics, as we’ve explored in this article, is your first line of defense against manipulation.

Knowledge is power, and awareness can arm you with the ability to discern whether someone’s intentions are genuine or manipulative.

Whether it’s recognizing gaslighting, decoding love bombing, or understanding the silent treatment, the key lies in your ability to identify and respond assertively.

So as you navigate your relationships, keep these tactics in mind. Be vigilant. Be aware. And remember, it’s okay to prioritize your well-being over the hidden agendas of others.

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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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