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Be Aware of These 8 Signs Of A Manipulator

Be Aware of These 8 Signs Of A Manipulator

While we all are manipulative to some degree, manipulators engage in set behaviors on a regular basis. Manipulators use deceptive and underhanded tactics by exploiting another person for power, control, and privileges at the other person’s expense. They play on your good intentions, vulnerabilities and weaknesses in order to get what they want.  Don’t be surprised if a manipulator is someone you trust or even love.

When someone is clearly wronging or hurting you and you are the one feeling bad and apologizing for their wrong doings, you are being manipulated. Manipulative behaviors are learned, most often in childhood. Thus, unfortunately it’s something that can’t be quickly unlearned. So, watch out for some common signs to spot them and once you do, pull them out of your life immediately. They are toxic weeds in your life.

1. They are experts in playing mind games.

Some manipulators are highly skilled and their tactics are so subtle that it can control you for a long time before you finally figure out what’s happening. Skilled manipulators have a way of twisting a previous conversation or replaying it to suit their needs. They will do something to hurt you and when you express how you feel about it, they’ll turn the situation around, make you feel guilty and end up justifying their actions.

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Does your partner say or do things that make you feel like you must be crazy and then tell you you’re making something out of nothing?  Obviously your partner twists the truth or leaves out certain information to make you doubt your own perception and sanity.

2. They have their best interests in mind, not yours.

They twist your thoughts and actions bit by bit until you look to them for guidance on everything. They mold you into someone that serves their own purposes. Sadly, you trust them more than you trust yourself. Their motives are almost always self-serving, and they have little interests in how you feel or how their behaviors impact you and your life.

They consistently point out your shortcomings, then show you that with their help, you can do better and become better. In that way they convince you that they have your best interests in mind, but the truth is they don’t.

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3. They are emotional bullies and control freaks.

Manipulators need to be in control, and the desire for control often masks underlying feelings of their own insecurity. They need to feel superior and powerful. They have a deep narcissistic desire to shift the focus somehow to themselves and seek you out to validate them.

Manipulators claim that they know how the world should be, how you should act and of course by their rules. They are virtuous and righteous. They are saints in their own minds, so you’d better agree. They know what’s best for you. Just ask them and they will give you advice and will make your life miserable if you don’t do what they say or utterly worship them. Besides, they are great debaters, so you never win.

4. They are irresponsible and inconsistent.

Manipulators have difficulty accepting responsibility for their behavior and it is always about what everyone else had done to them. If you call them on their behaviors, they’ll find a way to turn it around to make you feel bad or guilty. Manipulators may say yes to a request or make a small commitment to you, and then when the time comes to follow through, they conveniently forget what they said or deny the fact that they even promised.

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5. They blame you for their behaviors.

They blame you for what they’ve said, done, not said or not done. If you point out how they just turned the tables, they’ll most likely make you look selfish and pitiful. Thus, you can’t really prove anything so it’s your bad memory against their lying words. You begin to question yourself and even feel bad that you challenged them. Manipulators will never admit their wrong doings when it puts them at a disadvantage. Instead, they’re always on the lookout for someone to blame, and here, alas, it’s you.

Manipulators are good at keeping score so that one day they will blame you if things don’t work for them. They are willing to help but it always comes at a price. They remind you of that one time they helped you out and use it as a way to manipulate you into feeling like you owe them something.

6. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

They attempt to establish intimacy by sharing their deep personal information that they make you believe they trust you and in turn, you trust them. You may initially perceive them as very sensitive, emotionally open and a bit vulnerable. You won’t suspect at all that you are being played. Since they are able to mirror your needs and desires perfectly, they are able to create the persona or mask of who you think they are, but it’s all an illusion.

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Manipulators want to listen to what you have to say in order to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Although it may feel like genuine interest and that they are good listeners, keep in mind that there may be a hidden agenda behind all this interests. They won’t hesitate to use all of these against you with an arsenal of effective manipulation tactics.

7. They have no desire in having authentic real communication.

Once again when you call them out on their behavior, more than likely, you’ll get a defensive and angry reaction rather than being direct and forthright communication. They usually sidestep honest communication and use passive aggressive methods instead. They try to intimidate you with aggressive language, subtle threats or outright anger, especially when they see you are uncomfortable with confrontation.

If you try to have an open and honest conversation about moments when you feel hurt or invalidated, you will be shut down with allegations that you are being too sensitive, insecure or over-reacting. They may pretend to be sweet and open minded to your face, and while they might not hurt you directly, they will find subtle ways of undermining or belittling you.

8. They are afraid of vulnerability.

Manipulators seldom express their needs, desires, or true feelings. They seek out the vulnerabilities in others in order to take advantage of them for their own benefits and deflect their true motives. They have no ability to love, empathy, guilt, remorse, or conscience. To them, life is merely a game of taking power and control and getting what they want. They see vulnerability as a weakness and staying invulnerable is a great way to hide who they really are. So, if you don’t live up to their so-called standards and they are filled with contempt for you, it’s so easy for them to simply get up and move on.

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Kris Lee

Emotional health and communication writer

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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