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Be Aware of These 8 Signs Of A Manipulator

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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.

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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 November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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