People who come across as conniving often display these 10 behaviors (without realizing it)

Our gut instincts aren’t always right. Then again, they aren’t always wrong, either.

And often, people tell us who they are through their behaviors.

Conniving people are secretive, dishonest, and often manipulative. And although they may go to great lengths to hide these negative traits, it’s not always possible for them to disguise who they are.

That’s because often, they don’t even realize themselves how their behaviors give them away.

Keep an eye out for these signs of someone who is unusually secretive and manipulative. Because often, these conniving people are best avoided.

1) They manipulate information

Knowledge is power. And people who come across as conniving often manipulate information to control what other people know so that they can control the people, too.

These people want to turn every situation to their advantage. So they may withhold information that would help others get a better picture of the truth if it doesn’t suit their interests. They will let people believe falsehoods, and may even outright lie if it gets them what they want.

The thing is, they may not even realize they are doing this – at least, not all the time. Since their natural impulse is to lie, they often get caught up in their own lies and forget what they have said to who.

So if someone tells you two different versions of a story, for example, or often withholds information from you, it might be because they are a very conniving person.

2) They use flattery

Flattery is a manipulator’s best friend.

“Flattery is dishonest when used to gain or control. It is effective because everyone has insecurities and loves to be told great things about themselves,” writes therapist and author Jason Whiting.

That’s what sets flattery apart from a genuine compliment.

It’s nice to compliment someone when they’ve done something impressive or when they have positive traits you’ve noticed. But a genuine compliment isn’t intended to get a specific behavior out of the target.

Flattery is.

The thing is, a conniving person may use this tactic so often that it becomes second nature to them. Therefore, they will flatter people out of habit, all the time, forever telling people what they think they want to hear.

Over time, this can help you spot someone who is not honest about themselves.

3) They never give a straight answer

Sometimes, you just want to hear either yes or no. But conniving people will go out of their way to avoid giving you a straight answer.

That’s because their manipulative games rely on hiding their true intentions. They will tell people what they want to hear, withhold information, and lie to them, all with the goal of getting them to do what they want.

So when asked for a straight answer, they will refuse to be transparent. They may be vague, pretend not to know something, use overly complex language to confuse people, or change the subject.

These are all bad signs of an especially conniving person.

4) They create drama

Another way manipulative people get control of others is by creating friction between them.

When everyone feels happy and secure in their relationships, it’s harder for a conniving person to exploit them. So often, they will create drama between groups of friends or within a family so that they can then exploit the fights and disagreements that happen.

Not only does this keep people busy so that they can’t effectively stop the manipulative schemes, but it also takes attention away from them so that they can get on their plans.

5) They abuse people’s trust

One of the main ways conniving people get what they want out of life is by abusing the trust of others.

The best way for a conniving person to get what they want is to make people think they are someone other than who they are.

So they may seem kind, generous, trustworthy, and reliable on the surface, but over time, you can see they are only looking out for themselves.

When we trust people, we tend to let them more deeply into our lives. We give them more freedom around us and more control over the things we do.

That’s exactly what a manipulator relies on.

To a conniving person, trust and loyalty mean nothing. And so they will often betray the trust of others without thinking twice about it.

6) They scheme

ways to tell conversation with a liar People who come across as conniving often display these 10 behaviors (without realizing it)

A conniving person always has a scheme.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are trying to hurt other people. Instead, most of the time, it’s just that they don’t really care. What they want comes first, and everybody else’s desires or needs are secondary to that.

In psychology, this is called Machiavellianism, and was first studied in the 1960s by psychologists Richard Christie and Florence Geis.

Machiavellianism describes someone who:

  • Considers their own goals and needs to be more important than anybody else’s;
  • Places high importance on status, fame, power, or money;
  • Is willing to lie, manipulate, and exploit others to get what they want;
  • Has a negative and cynical view of the world and of other people;
  • Feels little empathy for other people.

Now, a conniving person will often try to hide this Machiavellian streak. But it can reveal itself in the way they behave.

Often, people who are always scheming to get what they want can’t just switch it off. That means they may adopt convoluted strategies even for simple tasks. And this can give away someone who is secretly manipulative.

7) They lie

Obviously, lying is one of the foremost tools in the toolbox of a manipulative person.

But often, it’s also the way they get caught out.

You see, when someone gets used to lying to get others to do what they want, it often becomes a habit. These people become less truthful by the day, and eventually get caught out in their lies.

Some people are even pathological liars, and will lie even when it doesn’t help them at all, and can actually hurt them.

When asked a question or confronted in any way, their natural impulse is to lie, and this is one way you can spot a manipulative person a mile away.

8) They refuse to accept responsibility

Conniving people also have strategies to get them out of any trouble they find themselves in. One of those is to refuse to accept responsibility for anything they do or anything that goes wrong.

Healthy people know that ultimately, they are responsible for their own lives, and especially their own actions. So when they do something wrong or something that upsets other people, they have no problem taking responsibility, apologizing, and correcting the behavior.

Manipulative people will do anything to avoid that. By admitting responsibility, they feel like they are losing power and respect in the eyes of others, and because that means everything to them, they will do whatever it takes to avoid it.

Conniving people will never admit something is their fault, even when it clearly is, and even when it’s not really that big of a deal. This is another way you can spot someone who is always manipulating other people.

9) They use other people

No one likes to be used. But that’s exactly what conniving people do, manipulating and using others for their own ends.

That means they may lie to a partner about the way they really feel just to get sex. They may be friends with someone just because they think the person can advance their career or help them in some other way.

They may invite people to spend time with them just because they are bored, not because they actually care at all about the people they are spending time with.

Normally, a conniving person will try to hide this tendency. But if you pay close attention, you may notice that someone is only interested in others when they think they can get something from them.

And that’s a sure sign of a disingenuous character.

10) They use emotional manipulation

Another frequently used tool of manipulative people is emotional manipulation.

That means they may use guilt trips to get people to do what they want.

They may use emotional blackmail, threatening to leave people or to hurt themselves or others if they don’t get their way. They may pretend to be more upset about something than they really are.

The ultimate goal is to use other people’s emotions against them and get them to do what the conniving person wants.

Signs of a conniving person

It’s not easy to spot someone with this negative personality type. After all, successful manipulation often depends on the manipulator’s true goal being hidden.

But sometimes, these behaviors can reveal themselves. And when they do, pay attention. Because they may save you the trouble that comes from dealing with a conniving person.

Picture of Clifton Kopp

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

0:00
0:00