How to Stop a Manipulator in Their Tracks

Reviewed, fact-checked & edited by Lenny Terra.
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Do you have someone in your life who always seems to get what they want? They may be a manipulator. Manipulators are experts at getting what they want and often do it at the expense of other people. They can be very charming and convincing, but there is a way to stop them in their tracks. In this blog post, we will discuss how to spot a manipulator and deal with them effectively.

Understand what manipulation is and how it works.

Manipulation is a type of deception in which someone tries to convince another person to do something they wouldn’t normally do or to believe something that isn’t true without using open force or coercion. 

It’s a way of controlling someone else for personal gain, and it can be very difficult to spot.

Unfortunately, manipulation is all too common in our society, and it can have harmful consequences.

One way to think of manipulation is as a kind of “quiet” form of persuasion. While manipulators often use persuasion techniques, their ultimate goal is not simply to persuade but rather to control or influence another person’s behavior or perceptions.

To be successful, manipulators often use subtlety and indirection, making it difficult for their victims to realize what is happening. For example, a manipulator might try to make someone feel guilty to get them to do something they want. Or, they might try to flatter or compliment someone to get them to lower their defenses. Manipulators can be very skilled at what they do, and their actions can often significantly impact their victim’s life.

The ten types of manipulators and how to spot them.

We’ve all encountered manipulators in our lives. They’re the people who always seem to get their way, often at our expense.

In any given interaction, there is always the potential for manipulation. Whether it’s an attempt to get someone to do something they don’t want to do or to gain an advantage in a situation, manipulators are everywhere.

While it’s not always easy to spot a manipulative person, there are ten main types of manipulators: the victim, the dishonest, the bully, the favor seeker, the diverter, the disagreer, the third-party recruiters, the flatterer, the divide and conquer manipulator, and the control freak. 

The victim.

Victim manipulators try to gain sympathy by playing the role of the victim. They may say things like, “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” or “No one ever understands me.”

manipulative

These manipulators are often very skilled at eliciting sympathy and compassion from others. They may be convincing, but it’s important to remember that their goal is to control the situation, not to actually solve the problem.

Victim manipulators often play on people’s empathy and compassion, hoping they will feel sorry for them and do what they want.  

The victim manipulator is the type of person who tries to make you feel sorry for them. They might play on your empathy by sharing sob stories or making themselves seem helpless. The key to spotting a victim manipulator is to look for signs of exaggeration or outright lies. They often try to win sympathy by playing up their hardships, so if their stories seem unlikely, they probably are.

They might also try to make you feel guilty by saying things like, “I can’t believe you would do this to me,” or “After all the things I’ve done for you.” If someone is constantly trying to make you feel guilty, they might be a victim manipulator. 

The dishonest.

Dishonest manipulators are often very charming and charismatic. They may be good at flattery and telling white lies.

They might try to take advantage of your trust by promising things they can’t deliver or hiding their true intentions.

For example, a dishonest manipulator might say they’re interested in a long-term relationship when they’re really just looking for a casual fling. Or, they might act like your friend but only talk to you when they need something from you.

The key to spotting a dishonest manipulator is to pay attention to their actions. If what they’re saying doesn’t match up with what they’re doing, they might be trying to manipulate you.

Another way to spot a dishonest manipulator is to look for signs of deception. They might avoid eye contact or try to change the subject when you ask them a direct question. If someone seems shifty or evasive, they might be trying to manipulate you.

The bully.

The bully manipulator is the type of person who tries to intimidate others into doing what they want. They might use threats or verbal abuse to get their way or try to take advantage of people who are weaker than them.

They often have a narcissistic personality disorder, so they might also try to belittle or demean others to boost their ego. 

The key to spotting a bully manipulator is to look for signs of aggression or intimidation. If someone is constantly trying to make you feel scared or threatened, they might be a bully manipulator.

The blackmailer is a type of bully manipulator. They might try to blackmail you by threatening to expose a secret or saying they’ll hurt you if you don’t do what they want.

The favor seeker.

Favor seekers are the type of manipulators who are always asking for favors. They might say things like, “Can you do me a huge favor?” or “I’ll owe you one if you do this for me.”

While it’s normal to ask for favors occasionally, favor seekers take it to an extreme. They might constantly be asking for favors or trying to take advantage of your generosity.

The key to spotting a favor seeker is to pay attention to how often they ask for favors. If someone is always asking for favors, they might be a favor seeker. Another way to spot a favor seeker is to look for signs of entitlement. They might expect you to do things for them without ever reciprocating.

The diverter.

Diverters are manipulators who try to divert attention away from their wrongdoings. They might make excuses or try to blame others for their mistakes.

For example, a diverter might say, “I’m not the one who forgot to pay the bill; you are,” or “I didn’t cheat on the test; the teacher must have lost my paper.”

They also try to change the subject when confronted with their wrongdoings.

The key to spotting a diverter is to look for signs of deflection or denial. If someone is constantly trying to deflect responsibility, they might be a diverter. Another way to spot a diverter is to pay attention to their body language. They might avoid eye contact or try to leave the room when they’re confronted with their wrongdoings.

The disagreer.

Disagreers are the type of manipulators who always disagree with you. They might say things like, “That’s not what happened,” or “You’re wrong.” Even when presented with evidence, they might still try to disagree. They deny facts and reality to maintain their own version of the truth. 

They might also try to gaslight you by making you question your own memories or perceptions. For example, a disagreer might say, “Are you sure that’s what happened?” or “I don’t remember it that way.”

The key to spotting a disagreer is to pay attention to how often they disagree with you. If someone is constantly trying to undermine your perception of reality, they might be a disagreer.

The third-party recruiters.

Third-party recruiters are the type of manipulators who try to enlist other people to do their dirty work. They might say things like, “Can you talk to her for me?” or “Can you help me convince him to do this?”

They often try to recruit people who are close to their targets, such as friends or family members.

The key to spotting a third-party recruiter is looking for cooperation signs. If someone is constantly trying to get other people to do their bidding, they might be a third-party recruiter.

They might also try to make you feel guilty by saying things like, “If you don’t do this for me, I’ll be in trouble.”

The flatterer.

Flatterers are the type of manipulators who try to ingratiate themselves with you. They might say things like, “You’re so smart,” or “I’ve always looked up to you.”

They often try to make you feel special or important to get what they want.

The key to spotting a flatterer is to pay attention to how often they compliment you. If someone is constantly trying to butter you up, they might be a flatterer. Another way to spot a flatterer is to look for signs of insincerity. They might say things that are obviously false or exaggerated.

The divide and conquer manipulator.

Divide and conquer are manipulators who try to sow discord between you and other people. They might say things like, “I don’t think she really likes you,” or “I don’t think he’s really your friend.”

They often try to make you feel like you’re not good enough or don’t belong.

The key to spotting a divide and conquer technique is looking for conflict signs. If someone constantly tries to create problems between you and other people, they might be a divide-and-conquer manipulator. They might say things that are designed to create doubt or mistrust.

The control freak.

The control freak manipulator is the type of person who tries to control every aspect of a situation. They might be very controlling in their personal relationships or try to micromanage their work environment.

control freak

Control freak manipulators often need power and control, so they might try to dominate those around them. The key to spotting a control freak manipulator is to look for signs of overcontrolling.

If someone is constantly trying to control your actions or dictate how you should live your life, they might be a control freak manipulator.

There are many different types of manipulators, but these are some of the most common. Most manipulators fall into more than one category.

If you think you’re being manipulated, it’s important to trust your gut and take action to protect yourself.

Identify the signs that someone is trying to manipulate you.

There are many different signs that someone might be trying to manipulate you. Some of the most common signs include:

  • They constantly disagree with you.
  • They always have an ulterior motive.
  • They make you feel ashamed.
  • They try to isolate you from other people.
  • They play on your fears.
  • They try to control the conversation.
  • You always seem to be doing something wrong.
  • You always have to defend yourself around them.
  • They try to control the conversation.
  • They play on your emotions.
  • They try to make you feel like you owe them something.
  • They try to take advantage of your kindness.
  • They use ultimatums.
  • They give you the silent treatment.
  • They try to make you feel guilty.
  • They use flattery or compliments to try to control you.
  • They play on your fears or insecurities. 
  • They try to gaslight you by making you question your own memories or perceptions.
  • They recruit other people to do their dirty work for them.
  • They try to make you feel special or important.
  • They sow discord between you and other people.
  • They try to control every aspect of a situation.

If you notice any of these signs in your interactions with someone, it’s important to be aware that they might be trying to manipulate you. They often use more than one of these tactics, so it’s important to be on the lookout for multiple signs.

There are different levels of manipulation. Some people may only use manipulative tactics occasionally, while others may use them all the time. Some people may only manipulate those close to them, while others may try to influence anyone they encounter.  

Respond in a way that will shut down the manipulator’s tactics.

There are many different ways to respond to someone trying to manipulate you. Some of the most effective responses include:

Calling them out on their behavior.

If you confront a manipulator about their behavior, it can effectively shut down their tactics. This is because manipulators often rely on being able to get away with their behavior without being called out.

When you confront a manipulator, make sure to do it calmly and assertively. This will help diffuse any potential conflict and show the manipulator that you’re not going to tolerate their behavior.

Setting boundaries.

Setting boundaries is another effective way to respond to manipulation. This is because it shows the manipulator that you’re not going to tolerate their behavior and that you have a limit to what you will put up with.

It’s important to be clear and concise when setting boundaries. This will help the manipulator understand what they can and cannot do.

Staying calm.

It’s important to stay calm when dealing with a manipulator. This is because they will often try to get a reaction out of you to be successful.

If you stay calm, it will be harder for the manipulator to get a reaction out of you. This is because they won’t be able to use your emotions against you.

Asking questions.

Another effective way to deal with a manipulator is to ask them questions. This will force them to justify their actions and explain themselves.

Try to record the conversation.

It can be helpful to record the conversation when dealing with a manipulator. This is because it can provide evidence of their manipulative behavior.

It’s important to get the manipulator’s permission before recording the conversation. This is because it’s illegal to record a conversation without the other person’s consent in some states.

Try to make them put everything in writing.

If you want to confront a manipulator, try to make them put everything in writing. It will be harder for them to deny their actions if they’re in writing.

It’s important to be clear about what you want the manipulator to put in writing. For example, you could ask them to put their promises in writing.

Keep all the evidence.

If you’re dealing with a manipulator, it’s important to keep all the evidence. For example, you should keep all the emails, text messages, and recordings of your conversations with the manipulator. This way, you’ll have a record of what they’ve done and said.

If they show aggressive behavior, it is even more important to keep all the evidence as they will try to turn it around on you.  

This evidence can be useful if you decide to take legal action against the manipulator or simply want to confront them about their behavior, promises, or threats.

Get help from a friend or professional.

If you’re dealing with a manipulator, it’s important to get help from a friend or professional. This is because they can provide support and guidance.  

What are the effects of being manipulated?

stressed

Being manipulated can have many negative effects. These effects can include:

  • Feeling controlled.
  • Feeling anxious or stressed.
  • Losing confidence in yourself.
  • Losing faith in others.
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family.
  • Experiencing financial problems.
  • Health problems.
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless.
  • Feeling like you’re not good enough.

If you’re being manipulated, it’s important to reach out for help. This can help you deal with the effects of being manipulated and help you put an end to the manipulative behavior.

What are the effects of not responding to a manipulator?

When we encounter manipulative people in our lives, it can be tempting just to ignore them and hope they’ll go away.

Unfortunately, that’s seldom the case. Manipulative people are often very skilled at getting what they want, and if you don’t respond to their attempts at manipulation, they may only redouble their efforts. In some cases, they may even become more aggressive.

If you find yourself in a situation where someone is trying to manipulate you, it is important to respond in a way that will diffuse the situation and protect your own interests. By not responding or responding in a way that the manipulator can interpret as weakness, you are essentially permitting them to continue their bad behavior. This can lead to a vicious cycle in which the manipulator grows more emboldened, and the person being manipulated feels increasingly powerless.

The best way to deal with a manipulator is to be assertive. This means setting clear boundaries and communicating directly. For example, you might say something like, “I’m not going to do what you’re asking me to do. Please stop trying to manipulate me.”

Often, this is enough to put a manipulator on notice that their attempts aren’t going to work. If they continue to try to manipulate you, you can always walk away or take other measures to protect yourself. Don’t let a manipulator control your life – stand up for yourself and set healthy boundaries.

What to do if you are in a relationship with a manipulator?

If you’re in a relationship with a manipulator, it can be difficult to know what to do.

Manipulators are often very good at appearing charming and manipulating the people around them to get what they want.

If you’re in a relationship with a manipulator, it’s important to be aware of the signs we talked about earlier. These signs can help you to identify when your partner is manipulating you.

Some signs that you may be in a relationship with a manipulator include: feeling like you’re always being controlled or manipulated, feeling like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner, or feeling like your partner is always trying to take advantage of you.

If you’re in a relationship with a manipulator, it’s important to be assertive and set boundaries. Manipulators often try to take advantage of passive people who don’t stand up for themselves. Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. It simply means communicating directly and setting clear boundaries.

For example, you might say to your partner, “I don’t like it when you try to control me. I’m going to do what I want to do, and I don’t want you to try to manipulate me.”

If your partner doesn’t respond well to assertiveness, it may signify that the relationship is not healthy. In some cases, it may be necessary to end the relationship to protect yourself.

If you’re in a relationship with a manipulator, it’s important to seek help from a therapist or counselor who can help you learn how to deal with this type of person. 

The four steps to taking back control from a manipulator.

Manipulators are often very skilled at getting what they want. They can be very persuasive, and they may use a variety of tactics to get their way.

They are adept at preying on our weaknesses and insecurities. They use fear, guilt, and shame to control our behavior and get what they want.

While it is not always easy to deal with a manipulator, there are some steps you can take to regain control. 

Identify the manipulation tactic being used.

This can be difficult, as manipulators are often very subtle. Pay attention to the words and actions that make you feel uncomfortable or guilty. These are likely being used deliberately to manipulate you. Check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling scared, guilty, or ashamed, a manipulation tactic is likely being used.

Label the tactic as manipulation.

Once you’ve identified that a manipulation tactic is being used, it’s important to label it as such. This helps to take away the power that the manipulator has over you.

For example, you might say to yourself, “I’m feeling guilty because they’re using the ‘guilt trip’ manipulation tactic on me.”

Plan ahead.

It can be helpful to plan ahead for how you’ll deal with a manipulator. This means thinking about the tactics they are likely to use and having a plan for how you’ll respond. If you know ahead of time how you’ll handle being manipulated, it’s less likely that the manipulator will be successful.

For example, you might say to yourself, “If they start to guilt trip me, I’ll assertively tell them to stop.”

Set boundaries and assert yourself.

set boundaries

It’s important to set boundaries with a manipulator. This means communicating directly and being clear about what you will and will not tolerate. It’s also important to be assertive in your communication. This means being direct, clear, and concise in what you say.

For example, you might say to the manipulator, “I don’t appreciate it when you try to make me feel guilty. Please stop doing that.” If the manipulator doesn’t take your hint, you can be more direct and say, “I’m not going to tolerate being manipulated. If you continue to do it, I’ll have to distance myself from you.” 

Manipulators will often try to gaslight you by making you doubt yourself. They might say things like, “You’re being too sensitive” or “You’re overreacting.” Don’t fall for it! Gaslighting is a form of manipulation, and you have a right to your feelings. If you’re being gaslit, it’s important to assert yourself and say, “No, I’m not overreacting. This is how I feel, and you need to respect that.” 

Dos and don’ts of dealing with a manipulator.

Manipulators are experts at getting what they want. They’re also experts at making you feel like you’re the one who’s losing your mind. But if you know what to look for, you can stop them in their tracks.

Here are some dos and don’ts of dealing with a manipulator:

Do:

  • Set boundaries and assert yourself. Be firm, direct, and clear.
  • Say “no” when you need to.
  • Create a support network. Find someone you trust to confide in and who will offer objective feedback.
  • Keep your cool. Manipulators are experts at getting under our skin and provoking an emotional reaction. The calmer you can stay, the better equipped you will be to deal with them.
  • Document everything. Keep a record of what happened, when, and how you felt about it.
  • Plan for how you’ll respond to manipulation tactics.
  • Recognize when you’re being manipulated.

Don’t:

  • Engage in a battle of wills with a manipulator.
  • Make excuses for a manipulator’s bad behavior.
  • Let a manipulator control or dominate you.
  • Take everything a manipulator says and does personally.
  • Give them what they want.
  • Try to reason with or outsmart a manipulator.
  • Negotiate with a manipulator.
  • React emotionally to a manipulator’s tactics.​
  • Provide them with an opportunity to manipulate you.
  • Appear weak or vulnerable to a manipulator.
  • Be afraid to stand up to a manipulator.

How to help someone who is being manipulated?

There are many signs that someone is being manipulated. They may start to isolate themselves from friends and family, or they may be sudden changes in their behavior or appearance.

They may also become withdrawn or agitated and have difficulty making decisions. If you suspect that someone you know is being manipulated, you can do a few things to help.

  • Try to talk to the person and see if they are open to discussing what is going on. One of the best things you can do is simply talk to the person and express your concerns. Keep the conversation respectful and non-judgmental, and encourage the person to open up about what’s going on.
  • If they are unwilling to talk, you can reach out to their friends or family members to see if they are aware of the situation. You can also contact a professional who can provide support and resources. Ultimately, it is important to remember that you cannot force someone to accept help; however, by offering your support, you can let them know that they are not alone.
  • Help them identify the behavior. Once you’ve talked about your concerns, and if they are willing to accept help, you can help the person identify any manipulative behaviors that they may be experiencing. This can be a tricky process, but the victim needs to become aware of what’s happening.
  • Encourage assertiveness. Part of breaking free from manipulation is learning to assert oneself. Help the person identify times when they have been assertive in the past, and encourage them to use those same skills in this situation.
  • Support their decisions. Manipulation often seeks to control the victim’s decision-making process. Once the victim has identified what is happening, it is important to support their choices, even if you don’t agree with them. This includes respecting their decision to stay in the relationship or leave it.
  • Offer support and resources. Finally, offer your support and resources to the person who is being manipulated. This might include referrals to counselors or other professionals who can help. You can also provide practical support, such as help with safety planning or securing housing.

The most important thing you can do is to let the person know that they are not alone and that there is help available.

Conclusion.

Manipulators are experts at playing on our emotions and vulnerabilities. They can be very convincing and often seem very sincere. However, there are ways to spot a manipulator before they cause too much damage to our lives and relationships. If you can learn how to identify the signs of manipulation, you will be able to protect yourself from their tactics.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you feel like something is just not right with a situation or relationship.

What are some other ways to spot a manipulator? How have you dealt with a manipulator in your life? Share your stories and advice in the comments section below.

Author

  • Lenny Terra is the founder & editor-in-chief. He’s a life coach, software engineer, freelance writer, and has a diploma in Modern Applied Psychology. Lenny has a passion for great living & beautiful design. He is married and is the father of two beautiful girls. His life’s mission is to help people improve their lives, become happier and more productive. This blog is his contribution to that goal and to the empowerment of his readers. Lenny and his family live in Texas with their two dogs.

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