Detecting hidden agendas: 8 trick phrases to watch out for

While it’ll be so much easier if everyone means what they say, the reality is that people often have hidden agendas behind what they say and do.

Do you find yourself second-guessing the intentions behind other people’s interactions with you? It can certainly be very frustrating. 

Today we’ll uncover some of the phrases you can watch out for the next time you find yourself in this situation.

1) ‘Trust me’

Isn’t it ironic that these two words can hold a world of untruths?

Usually, this phrase comes after the person tells you they have no evidence or justification to offer. You’ll just have to take them at their word.

While some people may mean it when they say ‘trust me’, it’s usually better to err on the side of caution. Especially if it’s someone you barely know.

Building trust takes time and effort, and it’s done through both parties committing to being consistent and transparent with each other.

2) ‘It’s for your own good.’

Honestly, how would someone know what’s good for you or not? The only person who should have the best understanding of yourself is you.

If they barely know you and hardly understand your needs and preferences, whatever they’re trying to convince you to get into is probably not a good idea.

Whether it’s a product, idea, or business venture – they are likely to have a hidden agenda and it’s certainly not about your wellbeing.

They’re likely more concerned about furthering their own interest, regardless of yours.

3) ‘It’s fine, everyone else is doing it’

We’ve probably learned in school that even though everyone else is doing something, it doesn’t make it right. And this holds true long after we’ve left school. 

Peer pressure is a very real thing. When everyone in your circle is doing the same thing, being the odd one out can isolate you. It may even put a target on your back, where people may start saying not very kind things about you.

One example is at the workplace.

Someone new joins the department and realizes that the invoices charged to the client include unnecessary items or a severely marked-up figure that wasn’t specified originally. Everyone is obviously in on it because by keeping silent, they’re able to earn more. They tell the newbie – it’s fine, everyone’s doing it.

This may give you some security in numbers but when this scheme is revealed, it’s everyone man for himself. And this is just one of the many examples that happen in the corporate world.

So in short, no it’s not fine if everyone else is doing it. But when you’re placed in that pressurizing scenario, you’ll need a lot of courage and willpower to say no.

4) ‘It’s a secret, but I’ll tell you.’

It’s very likely they’ve used this on scores of people before you.

But this statement does appeal to one’s ego, does it? Like you’re included in this exclusive circle that holds this knowledge no one else does. It lowers our guard and this makes it a lot easier for the other person to get you to agree with whatever they want to do. 

Moreover, they may be testing your loyalty. They want to see if you’re ‘with them’ or ‘against them’.

5) ‘If you really loved me, you’d do…’

This is the hallmark phrase used by emotional manipulators to get you to do things you may not want to do. And when you refuse to do what they ask, they play the victim, accusing you of not loving them enough.

This can be highly pressurizing as it forces you to do something you may not be comfortable with. But at the same time, you want the other party to be happy. This is different from making sacrifices (within reasonable means) for your partner.

It’s another thing to repeatedly force your partner to do things even though they don’t want to do it.

6) ‘This is a risk-free investment’

We all know that nothing comes without risk – especially when it comes to investments that promise returns that are too good to be true.

It’s tempting to get into a get-quick-rich scheme, especially when the person selling you this investment scheme seems trustworthy, even sharing stories of people who managed to earn a lot in returns.

However, there are a lot more untold stories of people who put their money into these investment schemes, only to lose it. Some are luckier than others; they manage to pull out in time. The rest are not so lucky, they may lose their entire capital.

When it comes to your hard-earned money, don’t be foolish and throw all your eggs into a broken basket!

7) ‘You won’t get a better offer than this.’

Usually, when salesmen see that you’re hesitant to commit to a purchase, they will offer you a discount that somehow only lasts for that specific day. To increase their chances of getting a sale, they’ll tell you that you will not get a better offer than what they’re proposing anywhere else.

Sure, there may be some truth to it. But you are likely to find a similar product, possibly cheaper, in another store.

With the Internet, the possibilities are almost endless, where the same product may be sold across various online stores. 

8) ‘You owe me’ 

Someone who uses this regularly is obviously calculative and prioritizes his possessions above everything else.

Sometimes when we do things out of goodwill – such as paying for a visiting friend’s lunch or giving a person a ride home, we may not expect them to return the favor. Maybe they’ll keep it in mind and reciprocate, but it’s another thing to repeatedly tell others that they owe you.

A person who does this shows that they’re keen on finding leverage on another person. They help because they want ultimately, to benefit themselves in whatever project they may take on in the future.


While we don’t want to be overly suspicious of every person we meet, it’s good to be on our guard when someone presents us with something too good to be true.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so in addition to identifying the abovementioned phrases, trust your intuition

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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