Useful Tips

How to recognize a manipulator?


They are able to accurately calculate our weaknesses and use these weaknesses against us. Through cunning tricks, they force us to serve our goals to the detriment of our own interests. Once successful, they do not leave us alone until we decide to fight back. It is extremely unpleasant to be a victim of manipulation. To protect yourself from them, you must follow the safety rules.

1. Remember your rights

Perhaps this is the main rule. It is necessary to realize your fundamental rights, to be able to track when they are violated, and to protect them. Each of us has the right to:

  • to respect from other people
  • express feelings, opinions and desires,
  • set priorities
  • say no without feeling guilty
  • get what you paid for
  • to express views that are different from the views of other people,
  • protect yourself from physical, moral and emotional threats,
  • build your life in accordance with your understanding of happiness.

These fundamental rights mark the boundaries of your personal space.

2. Keep your distance

In communication, the manipulator constantly changes masks: with one person he is emphasized politely, with another - defiantly rude, in one situation he is absolutely helpless, in the other extremely aggressive. Noticing that someone is characterized by such extremes, keep this person at a safe distance and try not to get into contact with him unnecessarily. The causes of manipulative behavior are complex and rooted in childhood experiences. Correcting, re-educating or saving the manipulator is not your task.

3. Do not take his words to your account

The task of the manipulator is to play on your weaknesses. It is not surprising if next to him you begin to feel your inferiority and even blame yourself for not meeting his requirements. Track these feelings and remember that the problem is not with you. You are being manipulated to make you feel not good enough, which means you are ready to submit to someone else’s will and give up your rights. Think about your relationship with the manipulator by answering the questions:

  • Does he show sincere respect to me?
  • How reasonable are his expectations and requirements?
  • How balanced are our relationships? Maybe only one of us invests in them, and the second benefits?
  • Do these relationships prevent me from feeling good about myself?

Answers to these questions will help to understand whether the problem is in yourself or in another.

4. Ask him verification questions

Manipulators overcome us with requests or requirements, forcing us to forget about ourselves and switch to their needs. Having heard the next unfounded call, shift the focus of attention to the manipulator.

Ask him some test questions. So you will understand if he has at least some self-criticism in order to realize the injustice of his claims.

  • “Do you think this is a reasonable request?”
  • “Do you think this is honest with me?”
  • “May I have my own opinion on this?”
  • “Do you ask me or affirm me?”
  • “What will I get as a result?”
  • “Do you really expect me to ... (reformulate his request / requirement)?”

Asking these questions, you kind of put a mirror in front of him, and the manipulator can discern the "meaning" of the true meaning of your request. If he possesses even a small fraction of self-criticism, then he will most likely retreat. Although, of course, there are completely hopeless characters who will not listen to you and continue to insist on their own. In this case, use the following tips.

5. Do not rush!

Another favorite trick of manipulators is to seek an immediate response or action from you.

In a situation of lack of time, it is easier for them to control you and achieve their goals. (In the terminology of sales professionals, this is called “Close the deal.”) If you feel that you are under pressure, do not rush to make a decision. Use the time factor to your advantage, distance yourself from trying to put pressure on you.

You will maintain control over the situation by simply saying, “I will think about it.” These are very effective words! Take a break to evaluate the pros and cons, and weigh whether you want to continue the discussion and reach a more equitable agreement, or is it better to say no at all.

7. Fight offender

Sometimes manipulators come to direct bullying, trying to intimidate the victim or harm her. The main thing to remember: such people cling to those whom they consider weaklings, passive and compliant.

At the same time, many offenders are cowardly, and as soon as the intended victim begins to show firmness and assert his rights, the manipulator most often retreats. This rule works in any community - at school, in the family, at work.

Engage other people as witnesses or for support. Resist the offender together

Studies show that many abusers themselves were once victims of violence. This circumstance, of course, does not justify them, but it is important to remember it in order to calmly relate to their attacks.

Having decided to repulse the offender, maintain self-esteem, attract other people as witnesses or for support, take care of written evidence of the inappropriate behavior of the offender. When faced with psychological or physical abuse, consult with lawyers. The offender must be confronted together.

8. Tell him about the consequences.

In response to a gross intrusion into your personal space and unwillingness to hear your “no”, tell the manipulator about the consequences of his actions. The ability to predict and convincingly articulate possible consequences is one of the most powerful means of removing the manipulator from the game. This confuses him and makes him change his attitude towards you with respect.

Preston Ni - expert in communication strategies, coach.