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10 Habits Of Manipulative People

10 Habits Of Manipulative People

It can be hard to detect whether someone is manipulative upon first meeting them. Unfortunately, their selfish nature often goes unnoticed until you’ve become too involved in their lives to simply cut and run. Once they’ve gotten close to you, these Machiavellian schemers will do anything it takes to keep you around, all for the sake of using you in one way or another. Perhaps the worst part of being stuck in a manipulative friendship is it makes you doubt the genuineness of others, which can mean constantly second-guessing other relationships.

If you have a “friend” who exhibits the following traits, you should try to cut them out of your life as soon as possible.

1. They play innocent

Manipulators have a way of playing around with the truth to portray themselves as the victim. I once had a “friend” who would regularly make me feel bad for not spotting him five bucks to buy a pack of cigarettes—even though I detest smoking. Looking back on those days, I realize I was being used. He made me feel like a bad friend for not lending him money to support a disgusting habit, when in actuality he was the bad friend for even asking for the money in the first place.

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2. They play dumb

Manipulative people will drain the energy of everyone around them by looking to their friends for help, only to go ahead and do whatever they want anyway. When their friends call them out on it, they’ll be ready with excuse after excuse. “It’s my life, I’ll do what I want,” or “Let me make my own mistakes.” That’s totally fine if that’s how they choose to live, but they shouldn’t solicit advice if they don’t want to hear the truth. It’s a waste of the other person’s time and energy, and can damage their confidence in the value of the advice they give.

3. They rationalize their behavior

Along with not taking their friends’ advice, manipulative people make their negative behavior seem like the only option. They make it seem to you that they made the right decision, even though you know better from an objective point of view. They often seek to “win” arguments, rather than coming to a consensus with the other party. The implication here is that they weren’t truly listening to what you had to say at all. They were just waiting for you to finish so they could offer a rebuttal, regardless of how sound your advice was.

4. They change the subject often

Since manipulative people only really care about themselves, they ultimately will steer conversation toward their own needs any chance they get. They’ll do this especially when they know they’re wrong about something but don’t want to admit it. So, instead of validating the other person’s opinion, they’ll just change the subject to something innocuous or otherwise unrelated to the previous topic. This helps them avoid the truth in a roundabout way that’s fairly unnoticeable to others.

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5. They tell half-truths

Manipulative people tend to mold the truth to their advantage. They’ll often hide information that they know will expose them as liars, acting as if this is somehow better than telling a straight-out lie. Manipulators approach all interactions as if they’re in a court of law, where what they say can be used against them. By acting in this way, they can honestly say “I never said that.” Yes, you technically never did say that, but the way you skirted the truth wasn’t exactly right.

6. They induce guilt

Along with claiming innocence, manipulative people also make others feel guilty. There may be times in relationships where you’ll find you simply don’t have the time or energy to deal with certain situations, and the manipulative person will make you feel like you’re “not there for him.” They may even get you to put your own well-being on the back-burner so they’ll have somebody to complain to and seek advice from (advice which they may not heed, anyway).

7. They insult others

Manipulators are rude and abrasive by nature. All true friends can feel comfortable messing with each other by poking fun innocuously, but manipulative people go way overboard with the jabs and insults. They do this in social situations to inconspicuously undermine others and establish a sense of dominance. Manipulators never got over that high-school mentality, where it was “cool” to make fun of others and make them feel small by using nothing but their words.

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8. They bully others

Manipulative people are bullies. This goes beyond insults and often involves alienation and the spreading of rumors. Again, this is childish behavior, but it is often exhibited by immature, manipulative adults. Actions such as ignoring certain people in a group, not letting them voice their opinions, or leaving them behind are some of the more “adult” ways to bully. Manipulators will use these methods to establish dominance. In truth, these people are incredibly self-conscious and have low self-esteem, and will hurt anyone around them in order to feel better about themselves.

9. They minimize their behavior

Manipulators make it seem like their words and deeds are “not that big a deal.” Ironically, most of the time it’s them who has made a big deal about things. That is, until they hear something they don’t like and turn the tables on the other party. They clearly don’t show any empathy for the people who have spent valuable time and energy trying to help them, and instead shift the blame onto everyone else. They know they have a problem, but they make it seem like it’s the world that’s out to get them and not the other way around.

10. They blame others

As I said, manipulators shift blame constantly. They skate through life without taking any sort of responsibility for their actions. They either flat out don’t admit they did anything wrong, or they have some explanation to make their actions sound reasonable given the circumstances. Manipulative people simply don’t live by any code of ethics, and when it catches up with them, they’ll point the finger anywhere else except for at themselves.

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Featured photo credit: Flickrr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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