6 clever phrases that instantly disarm a master manipulator

What comes to mind when you hear the words: “Master manipulator?” Is it someone callous and scheming or a deceptive person who’ll try to control and take advantage of you? 

It’s sad to say, but you could describe them as all of the above and then some! 

Manipulators want what they want, and they’ll go to great lengths to achieve their goals or agendas. 

Call them a schemer or even a spin doctor, but what makes them so dangerous is their ability to get your trust and love, and then they control, reject, and belittle you.

They create confusion and frustration and leave you second-guessing yourself. 

But when you pay enough attention and spot a pattern of manipulative behavior, it’s time to put an end to it. 

Don’t try to play their game because you’re just setting yourself up to get hurt. Instead, call them out with 6 clever phrases that instantly disarm a master manipulator.

Catching them off guard stops them in their tracks, allowing you to think about your next move while protecting your mental and emotional health. 

Let’s check these phrases out below! 

1) “What’s the point of talking if you don’t listen to me?” 

Manipulators want you to make decisions quickly because the less time you have to consider your options, the more likely you’ll side with them. 

They’ve mastered the art of luring you in and putting pressure on you when it comes to making choices. 

In most cases, they “sweeten the deal” by reassuring you that their suggestion is the best, or they try to convince you that their way is the right way. 

But if you’ve already said “no” or you aren’t willing to discuss the situation any further, and they continue to pressure you, respond with, “What is the point of talking to you when you don’t listen to what I say?” 

If you’re undecided about the way forward, say to them, “Stop putting pressure on me; I’ll think about it and get back to you.”

Manipulators don’t like to wait, but these phrases give you time and space to help you make thoughtful and valuable choices without their influence. 

When a master manipulator tries to pressure you to do things their way, these disarming phrases put the ball back in your court, allowing you to take control of the situation. 

And if they don’t give up that easily, repeat needing time to think about your decision in a slow, calm, and clear voice so there’s no room for interpretation or manipulation

2) “Whether you agree with me or not, that’s how I feel.” 

“You’re overreacting” is one of the most common phrases used by manipulators.

As soon as you confront them about their attitude or behavior by letting them know that you’re upset, they flip the situation around by pointing the finger at you. 

Before you know it, you’re in the position of defending yourself, and you’ve completely deviated from the original topic of conversation. 

Master manipulators don’t like to be wrong, and they’ll do anything to shift the focus when you start pointing out their faults or how they’ve disappointed you. 

But instead of responding to their deflection, all you say to them is: “Whether you agree with me or not, that is how I feel.” 

You might not be aware of the fact that telling someone they’re overreacting is a form of gaslighting. A master manipulator might say, “It didn’t happen that way; you’re overreacting,” or “You’re crazy; I didn’t say that.”

Gaslighting creates confusion and self-doubt. After some time, it can lead to insecurity and dependence on your abuser. 

To stop manipulators from gaslighting you, another phrase you can use to disarm them is: “I’m not overreacting, and you’ll no longer dismiss my feelings or try to manipulate me. If you continue with this negative behavior, I’ll leave.” 

If you find yourself in an abusive situation, always find support through friends and family you can trust. 

3) “Let’s not change the subject.” 

Suppose a master manipulator’s attempt to steer the spotlight onto your reactions doesn’t work. All you want them to do is take responsibility for their actions, but how can they ever be seen as the guilty party? 

Their next move is to make it look like they want to work on the issue. They’ll tell you they want to discuss the “real problem” that’s causing their behavior. But it’s just another manipulative tactic to avoid accountability. 

Any deviation from the original topic of conversation should be met with: “We can talk about  this later; I’d rather not change the subject.” 

When you’re ready, reiterate why you’re upset and that you aren’t prepared to deviate from the discussion. 

It’s extremely challenging to deal with a gaslighter

The most important step you can take is to prevent them from continuing their barrage of mental and emotional jabs.

It will let them know that you won’t tolerate their manipulation anymore and that you’re prioritizing your well-being.

4) “What part of no don’t you understand?” 

psychological tricks to fight back against a manipulator 6 clever phrases that instantly disarm a master manipulator

Some manipulators, particularly in the workplace, will try to convince you to do things their way or get away with their responsibilities. 

I recall a colleague who had every excuse in the book to avoid the bulk of their work. One day, they had appointments they’d forgotten, and the next was a family issue.

Being a sensitive person, I always agreed to help, but I only ended up doing their job for them. 

Simply put, manipulative people develop a pattern of lies and deception to get their way. 

So, if someone asks you to do their job for them or they say try to pass the buck by constantly taking advantage of you, flip the situation back onto them.

A manipulator doesn’t expect to be questioned, and it’s a great way to disarm them. 

Say NO, but with a clever twist. 

In a clear and calm voice, ask, “What part of no don’t you understand?” or “Well, if I disagree with you, are you going to accept that?” 

They won’t see it coming and will hopefully think twice about using you. 

5) “What makes it so funny?” 

A rather nasty tactic of a very manipulative person is to make a rude or hurtful comment and then tell you that they were “just joking.” 

It’s a way of invalidating you

These so-called “jokes” usually involve insults or belittling comments that destroy your self-esteem and leave you questioning your worth.

Don’t allow them to get to you. 

The next time they share a joke at your expense, disarm your manipulator with this clever phrase: “What about that was funny?” or “Really? That sounded like an insult, but maybe you’re into that kind of humor.” 

Remember that someone who hurts you, joke or not, will sincerely apologize and not do it again.

In the case of a master manipulator, you won’t get an apology but a response such as, “That’s just who I am” or “I thought you had a sense of humor.” 

Don’t fall for it. It’s all part of their strategy to leave you questioning your response, and you know that’s not fair or healthy. 

When you hear “It’s who I am” or “I can’t just be myself,” a clever phrase to disarm a master manipulator is, “Well, go and be yourself somewhere else.” 

Being firm in your approach and sticking to your beliefs can help you overcome their arrogance. 

6) “Unless your name is Google, don’t act as if you know everything.” 

If there’s one thing that you can relate to in a manipulative relationship, the abuser always tries to make you feel inferior

They’ll mock your abilities, point out your flaws, or tell you how much more they know than you. If this is the case, never accept someone who puts you down or gaslights you. 

The next time they decide to talk down to you or seem to know better, stop them in their tracks with, “Unless you’re Google, don’t pretend to know everything.” 

Being quick-witted and sharp surprises them because they always think they have the upper hand. 

Most of the time, they can dish it out, but they can’t take it! 

If you were ever thinking about catching a manipulator by playing their game, think again. The constant back and forth is emotionally exhausting because it turns into a power struggle. 

The phrases that I’ve mentioned in this article are meant to instantly disarm a master manipulator, giving you the time and clarity to remove the toxicity from your life. 

Sometimes, the best way to disarm them is to tell them that you’re aware of their manipulative ways and that you’ve decided to leave.

In the workplace, a firm “no” or telling them to stop with the games is another way to put your boundaries firmly in place. 

Your focus should be on peace and respect in any relationship, not on “out-manipulating” someone who tries to control and use you. 

If you see a red flag, don’t stick around to fix the color. Master manipulators won’t change their ways. Run away from them for your own mental health and happiness. 

Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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