The art of the trickster: 8 ways they manipulate conversations

We all love a good conversation, right?

Well most of us. I’ll let you introverts and shy folk off.

But regardless, have you ever been in the midst of a discussion with an eerie feeling that something was just a little…off?

You may not realize it, but you might have just been outmaneuvered by a trickster!

Such an individual is not always easy to spot. 

Tricksters…now, they’re crafty. 

Like spiders, they weave their words in such an elaborate and thought out way that you may not even realize you’re being manipulated – until it’s too late.

Are you starting to feel a bit uneasy? 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Many of us have fallen victim to the sly conversational tactics of these masters of manipulation.

Hence why I’ve got 8 ways tricksters manipulate conversations at the ready for you, so you don’t fall prey again in the future.

Let’s begin, shall we?

1) Sneaky diversion tactics

Have you ever been in a conversation where you’re trying so hard to make a point, but the person you’re talking to seems to skillfully steer the discussion away from your topic and onto something else entirely? 

“Look, I just think the way that you follow all these models on Instagram makes me feel disrespected. Is there any reason you do it?”

“Yeah, umm, you know my dad hasn’t been too well recently. I’m thinking of visiting him this weekend…”

Yes, a sick parent warrants empathy.

But when used as a diversion tactic, is a sneaky and wiley move.

If this conversation format sounds familiar, beware.

This tactic is designed to throw you off balance and allow the person on the other side to dodge accountability.

2) Playing the victim

Another common trickster move is playing the victim

They use this tactic to gain sympathy and manipulate your feelings.

Now, everyone experiences suffering, and that suffering can not often be compared.

People feel things differently, share things differently – hence there’s no point in climbing up the victim pedestal and proclaiming yourself number 1.

But if someone always has a bad day, always has more trauma than you so needs a hall-pass, always has an excuse…

Conversation-wise, it’ll go a little like this:

“I feel like you’ve been ignoring me lately.”

“But I’ve been so stressed with work, and now you’re adding to that stress. Can you not just support me for once?”

Not only is this victimizing oneself, but also gaslighting as you’re now painted out to be the bad guy for asking for something as little as communication!

3) Gaslighting

Following on from above, gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where the trickster makes you question your own memory, perception, or sanity. 

Often, they’ll deny that certain events ever happened or that they said certain things, even if you have clear recollection of it.

Examples might include you trying to bring up a time when someone lied to you, and them accusing you of making it up. Or misremembering.

“You’re crazy! I came home by 1am that night. You must’ve been hella drunk to think I came back at 7am. Your drinking might be turning into a bit of an issue…”

The blame sneakily gets shifted onto your shoulders, and you start to feel guilty and overwhelmed even when you’re not to blame. Because they did come home at 7am. And you were not drinking.

Gaslighting is an awful way to treat a partner. 

It leaves lifelong scars when it comes to trust – not just with other people, but also leaving the person doubting how much they can trust their own memory and intuition.

4) The silent treatment

Using the silent treatment to gain something you want is a horrid way to approach communication.

If you can even call it that, as walling yourself up in silence is a passive-aggressive form of engagement that can make the other person feel unheard and insignificant.

It’s heartbreaking, trying to communicate with someone who simply refuses to respond at all.

You grow desperate and stressed and likely more irate as you talk more and more and they just stare back at you, like a concrete wall.

The trickster uses this silence to assert control and evoke feelings of guilt or desperation in the other person, making them more susceptible to manipulation

Because as unfortunate as it is, in moments of desperation – when the concrete wall gives in and offers you a one-word response – you then double over apologizing and begging out of fear they’ll retreat back into silence.

It’s a harsh method, yet sadly, it’s one that many find themselves on the receiving end of.

5) Feigning innocence

phrases manipulative use be victim The art of the trickster: 8 ways they manipulate conversations

The worst!

Someone who seems to be blissfully unaware of the impact of their words or actions, no matter how hurtful or caustic.

This is another classic trickster move – that doe-eyed, feigned innocence.

“Oops! Didn’t mean to trip you up and kick you in the shins. I’m just so clumsy!”

“No, I would never message him. I love you way too much! You know I could never do such a thing.”

I used to fall for statements like these, thinking maybe I was being overly sensitive. 

But over time, I realized it is just a way of escaping accountability while continuing manipulative behavior. 

It’s a sneaky and dishonest tactic, but being aware of it can help you stand your ground and not fall for their faux innocence and pitifulness.

6) Flattery and charm

Whilst being so manipulative and conning, the best of these tricksters are just as charming.

Because what better way to disarm your victims than with praise and flattery?

The most sickly sweet and saccharine of individuals shouldn’t always be doubted, as some people are…actually nice.

But beware of those who are only nice on occasion. When they want something, in particular.

They often use flattery and charm to win you over and make you lower your guard. 

Plus, it’s hard to suspect someone who’s always praising you, right?

7) Projecting

A person who deep downs feels inundated with guilt will often project that onto their partner.

And this is a very unhealthy way to deal with guilt, so one you need to be very wary of.

Beware of those who constantly accuse you of cheating, lying, or stealing.

Their guilty consciousness might well be rearing up and trying to point fingers at you as they can’t get to grips with their own feelings of shame. 

So watch out for a trickster who often lies and then tries to accuse others of being dishonest for the deed they personally committed.

8) Overpowering

You try all you can to get a word in edgeways, yet this person dominates the conversion and doesn’t even allow you so much as a whisper.

Another trickster tool is overpowering conversations. 

They talk over you and dismiss your points, making you feel insignificant and unheard.

Through this, you’re never really able to voice your feelings or stand your ground – so you’re manipulated into whatever they say or want as you quite literally cannot speak for yourself.

Defending yourself from tricksters

To round it up, recognizing the tactics of conversational tricksters is essential for maintaining healthy and respectful relationships. 

Because these individuals can be incredibly adept at manipulating discussions; leaving you feeling off-balance and unheard. 

But by understanding the techniques mentioned above and tracking them if they happen often (don’t go running if someone is just extra charming or tries to change one topic they’re uncomfortable discussing), you’ll be far more prepared to deal with the manipulators out there.

And remember: it’s important that you put your heart out there and trust people. There are many individuals who will brighten your life and add beauty to it.

But also stay vigilant, assert your boundaries, and avoid being swayed by charming facades or guilt-tripping tactics used by the less wholesome individuals you’ll encounter. 

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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