If you display these 10 behaviors, you’re being manipulative without realizing it

We often hear about people who always seem to get their way. But have you ever thought about the sneaky tricks they might be using?

Believe it or not, some of us may be using these tricks without even realizing it.

Let’s dive into 10 behaviors you might be displaying that could be seen as manipulative.

1. You’re always playing the victim

Ever notice how some people always seem to be the victim in every story they tell?

If you find yourself constantly painting yourself as the ‘poor-me’ character, you might be unknowingly manipulating others.

Playing the victim is a sneaky way to make other people feel guilty or sympathetic, making them more likely to give in to what you want.

It’s a tactic that can easily fly under the radar because it pulls at people’s heartstrings.

But remember, it’s okay to share your struggles and ask for help when you genuinely need it. The key is not to use your problems as a way to consistently tip the scales in your favor.

So when you’re tempted to play the victim card, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re seeking support or trying to manipulate the situation.

2. You’re always giving backhanded compliments

“Wow, you’re so brave for wearing that outfit!” Sounds like a compliment, right? But wait a second, there’s a hidden sting in that praise.

This is what we call a backhanded compliment – it sounds nice at first, but it actually contains a criticism.

If you find yourself giving these kinds of compliments often, you might be unknowingly manipulating people.

It makes the other person feel like they need to prove something to you or live up to some standard you’ve set.

Everyone appreciates sincere and genuine praise. Try to give compliments that lift people up instead of subtly putting them down.

3. You often use guilt trips

I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty of this one myself. I remember a time when I wanted my best friend to come to a concert with me.

She was hesitant, saying she was tired and needed a night in.

Without even realizing it, I found myself saying, “But I bought the tickets because I thought you wanted to go. I can’t enjoy it without you.”

This is a classic example of a guilt trip. By saying this, I was making her feel guilty for wanting to rest, manipulating her into doing what I wanted.

If you often find yourself using guilt to get your way, you might be unknowingly manipulating people.

It’s okay to express disappointment, but forcing someone into a decision by making them feel guilty isn’t fair.

When you find yourself laying a guilt trip on someone, take a step back. Try expressing your feelings without making the other person feel bad for their choices.

4. You’re always changing the subject

Did you know that a classic manipulation tactic is to constantly change the subject during a conversation? It’s true! Especially when the topic is something you’d rather avoid or when you’re called out on something.

If you’re always steering conversations away from certain topics or shifting focus when things get uncomfortable, you might be unknowingly manipulating people.

This tactic can make others feel confused and unsure, making it easier for you to control the situation.

Honest and open communication is key in any relationship. Instead of dodging difficult topics, try addressing them head-on.

It might be uncomfortable, but it’s a crucial part of growth and understanding.

5. You often use silent treatment as punishment

Silence can be golden, but not when used as a weapon.

When we withhold our attention and affection to ‘punish’ someone for not doing what we want, it can be deeply hurtful.

This silent treatment can create a sense of anxiety, encouraging the other person to give in to our demands just to end the discomfort.

If you find yourself doing this, you might be unknowingly manipulating others.

It’s important to remember that everyone has the right to express their feelings and make their own decisions without fear of emotional punishment.

Next time you’re upset with someone, try expressing your feelings openly and honestly instead of resorting to silence.

It can be difficult, but it’s a much kinder and more effective way to resolve conflicts.

6. You give unsolicited advice

I remember a time when a close friend of mine was going through a rough patch at work.

Without even thinking, I jumped in with advice on how she should handle her boss, her workload, everything. I thought I was being helpful, but later realized that I was actually trying to control the situation.

Unsolicited advice can often be a subtle form of manipulation. It implies that we know better than the other person, pushing them to do things our way.

If you often find yourself giving advice no one asked for, you might be unknowingly manipulating people.

While it’s great to help others, it’s important to respect their autonomy and ability to make their own decisions.

When someone confides in you, try just listening and offering support instead of jumping in with advice. It can make a big difference.

7. You always need to be right

We all like to be right. But when that need turns into an obsession, it becomes a problem, a manipulative one.

If you find yourself constantly arguing until others agree with you, even over the smallest things, or twisting facts to win an argument, that’s manipulation.

You’re forcing others to see things your way, denying them their own perspectives.

Being wrong isn’t the end of the world. It’s a chance to learn and grow.

If you’re in a disagreement, try listening and understanding the other person’s point of view instead of insisting on your own. It might be tough, but it’s worth it.

8. You’re always making others prove themselves to you

Did you know that constantly making people prove their worth or loyalty is a common manipulation tactic? It’s true!

This behavior can make people feel like they’re always on trial, causing them to work harder to please you.

If you often find yourself testing others or making them prove their loyalty, you might be unknowingly manipulating them. This can damage relationships and erode trust over time.

Trust and respect should be given freely in any relationship, not earned through constant tests.

So next time, try to trust in the loyalty of your friends and family without making them prove it.

9. You’re always ‘joking’ about others’ weaknesses

I remember a time when I would poke fun at a friend for being too sensitive. It was under the guise of a joke, but I was actually pointing out what I saw as a weakness.

I thought it was harmless fun, but I later realized that my ‘jokes’ were hurting my friend and making them feel self-conscious.

If you often joke about others’ weaknesses or insecurities, you might be unknowingly manipulating them.

This behavior can make people feel bad about themselves and more likely to change to avoid the mockery.

When you’re tempted to make a joke at someone else’s expense, think about how it might make them feel. A little empathy goes a long way.

10. You use flattery to get what you want

Who doesn’t like a compliment, right? But when praises are used as a tool to get what you want, it crosses into manipulation territory.

If you’re always buttering people up before asking for a favor or using flattery to sway someone’s opinion, you’re not being genuine – you’re manipulating.

Remember, sincere compliments are wonderful. But when they’re used with an agenda, they lose their charm.

Give compliments from the heart, not because you want something.

11. You’re always ‘keeping score’

Life is not a competition, but sometimes we treat it like one.

If you’re always keeping track of what others owe you or what you’ve done for them in the past, using it as leverage to get what you want, that’s manipulation.

Relationships should be based on mutual respect and love, not on who owes whom.

So let go of the scorecard and do things for others because you genuinely want to, not because you expect something in return.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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