5 classic tactics manipulative people use to get what they want

Have you ever had that feeling like someone’s subtly pulling the strings, trying to steer you in a direction you’re not too keen on?

Well, chances are you’ve met a manipulator. 

Whether at work, within the family circle, or even in romance, these crafty individuals can pop up anywhere.

To steer clear of getting entangled in a manipulator’s web, keep an eye out for these 5 classic tactics that they often use to get what they want:

1) Silent treatment

If you’re someone with attachment issues like me, this malicious technique used by manipulators is sure to have your nervous system go haywire!

Picture this:

Things are dandy at the office. You had your coffee with your office mates, but suddenly, you pick up on a cold breeze of ice-ness from your colleague who not only didn’t greet you back when you stepped into the office but shut down all your attempts at involving them in your conversation by giving you the cold shoulder.

Now, your mind goes on high alert, racing to figure out what you might have done to deserve this sudden frostiness!

Before you know it, you discover they’re upset because you didn’t complete the last-minute task they handed you yesterday.

In a panic, you decide to overcompensate, diving headfirst into completing the task and even taking on additional responsibilities to melt the icy wall between you two.

If this scenario feels all too familiar, you’ve just experienced the silent treatment—a classic manipulator move.

One of the ways to address this emotional abuse by manipulators is to acknowledge the situation by bringing it to their attention and expressing your feelings about it.

2) Guilt-tripping

This is another classic way manipulators control their victims, and it works well especially if you’re an empath.

Manipulators have this uncanny ability to reshape how you feel, think, and act. 


By making you carry the weight of past actions, whether you were aware of them or not, that might have caused them some distress.

To get their way, manipulators play the guilt card like a seasoned pro. 

They’ll keep dredging up past incidents, making you feel remorseful until you find yourself agreeing to their wishes to please them or make things right.

Guilt, in its essence, is like a human compass guiding us through morality. 

However, when manipulated, it can turn into a wrecking ball, causing damage to relationships. And here’s the sneaky part: guilt-tripping isn’t always verbal. 

Your partner, family member, or colleague might throw shade your way through tone and body language, suggesting they’re upset, yet when confronted, they deny it.

So, the golden rule here? 

Stay vigilant and be upfront when you sense you’re being nudged into feeling guilty for something either in the distant past or, truth be told, something that doesn’t really matter.

Be mindful and voice your concern whenever you feel you’re being pushed to feel bad for something that is either in the past or actually doesn’t really matter.

3) Ridiculing

It is one thing to be on the receiving side of friendly sarcasm and another to feel ridiculed.

Enter one of the manipulator’s go-to moves: mockery. 

Whether in public or just a private tête-à-tête, they excel at making you the target. Your appearance, thoughts, or feelings—all fair game. 

And what does this expertly executed ridicule achieve?

It leaves you feeling dismissed, like your opinions and emotions don’t matter.

Cue the emotional hit. You’re hurt, and suddenly, you find yourself more vulnerable than ever. 


Because manipulators know this is their prime time to seize control. 

They’re well aware that you’re likely to go along with their wishes or bite your tongue to avoid more ridicule.

It’s a classic manipulation tactic—undermining your confidence with a few well-placed barbs. 

But fear not, recognizing the game is the first step to breaking free from the puppet strings.

4) Excessive gifting

It is all sweet and heart-warming when those close to you gift you thoughtful presents.

But hold on, things take a turn for the uneasy when strangers, friends, or even partners start showering you with presents.

Before you know it, that warm feeling morphs into a sense of obligation, and you find yourself scrambling to reciprocate those unexpected ‘favors’. 

And here’s where manipulators work their magic to establish dominance over you.

The more gifts they give, the more strings they attach. 

Suddenly, you’re caught in a web of obligation, feeling compelled to meet their expectations.

This is another classic move by manipulators—giving with the unspoken expectation of receiving not just gratitude but compliance.

So, the next time someone showers you with gifts, especially if your gut senses something off, it’s okay to take a step back and assess the situation. 

Don’t let the allure of presents blind you to potential manipulation.

After all, true connections are built on mutual respect, not a gift-giving tally.

5) Isolation

Another vulnerable state manipulators put their victims in is isolation.

Just like being ridiculed, when manipulators prevent their victims from having a social life or a support group beside them, they become easier to control.

Picture this: Your partner finds faults in all of your friends and family members. Slowly, you’re discouraged from spending anytime with them,

You’re left with just one person to turn to when you’re upset or down. 

Your manipulator. 

In that scenario, you’d practically bend over backward to keep things hunky-dory with them. 

Why? Because that’s your lifeline for care and support.

So, here’s the catch: when manipulators have you in this isolated bubble, they’ve got you right where they want you. 

You’ll endure whatever they throw your way and hand over anything they ask for to maintain that semblance of care and support.

Final thoughts

Being on the receiving end of manipulation stings, no doubt. But here’s a nugget of wisdom: manipulation often stems from old wounds and a shortage of healthy communication skills. Sure, sometimes it’s just plain old malice at play.

The silver lining? 

By facing manipulators head-on and nudging them toward embracing direct communication, you’ve got a shot at patching things up—if the relationship is worth the effort. Of course, it comes with a big ol’ asterisk: they need to put in the work on themselves.

So, if you’re up for it and they’re willing to change their ways, there’s potential for growth and healing.

Lily Gareth

Lily Gareth

Beirut-based writer with a flair for all that is artistic. Follow her on Instagram: @raysofdisarrays

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