Bright Side

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

“Yeah, I think I got really mad over nothing again. I’m sorry I was angry because you were only 40 minutes late. It was my fault: I forgot to remind you. And the bags weren’t that heavy anyway.” Does this sound familiar to you? We hope not. Because this is what manipulation looks like: threats, guilt, flattery, and blackmail.

Bright Side knows what to do if you are manipulated by people who make you question your own decisions and try to make you take their side.

1. Get rid of the motive

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

Manipulative people often use specific situations to be able to use others. They do something good for you, like help you find a job, or give you a small gift, and then they ask you for something that you don’t want to do, but that you can’t refuse.

Don’t give a manipulative person a motive — the factor they are trying to use. Return the gift and solve your job problems by yourself. And enjoy the fact that you don’t owe anything to anyone.

2. Focus the attention on the manipulator

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

The thing a manipulator least expects, is quick revenge from their victim.

Ask them simple questions to throw them off. For example:

  • “Do you really care about my opinion? I feel like you’re asking me just to ask.”
  • “Are you ready to support my decision, even if it’s different from yours?”
  • “Do you really expect me to do this? You know it’s not in my best interest.”

Do you have a colleague that loves delegating their job to others? Ask them if they are ready to do your job next time. These questions will show you and them how absurd what they are asking for is. After that, they will probably back off.

3. Use people’s names when talking to them

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

This is not just pleasant for other people, but it’s useful for you. This is also not a new idea: in his 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie talked about how important it is to use people’s names.

This way of conversation improves understanding. Remember: it is better to use the form of the name the person likes the most.

The people who are addressed to by their names are generally more friendly. Use this method with manipulators and, chances are, they will not try to use you again.

4. Look them in the eye

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

Just like in the previous situations, the point of this trick is to make the manipulator lose focus. The first step is to say no to a request you don’t want to do. However, this is not going to stop an experienced manipulator. Look them in the eye and say no.

Manipulative people themselves will stare at you in an intense gaze, so beat them at their own game with eye contact and make them feel uncomfortable about asking again.

5. Don’t let them generalize

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

A standard strategy of a manipulative person is taking a specific situation out of context and using it as an example of your regular behavior, to make you feel ashamed.

For example, a wife is angry that her husband forgot to take out the trash. She tells him off for avoiding the chores regularly, even though this was the first time.

Don’t let people generalize things like this. Just ask them for examples of other situations that led them to this opinion.

  • “Maybe you’re right. Let’s try and remember some other examples of when I did this.”

6. Repeat something until they really understand

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

Broken records are annoying. Manipulative people hate hearing the same phrase over and over again, especially if it’s not something they like to hear.

If you feel that a person won’t stop putting pressure on you and they keep on trying to push you into making a decision that benefits them, make up a universal response and repeat it in the same tone. Make sure you strip your voice of emotion and repeat the phrase as many times as it takes them to finally hear you.

The universal replies can be, “I’m not doing it,” “I don’t like this conversation,” or “Let’s stop discussing it.” The most important thing is to not change your tone and to not show any emotion. This has to sound as if you don’t care. An example:

— I thought you understood me.
— I’m ready to listen to you again.
— What’s the point of talking to you if you can’t hear me?
— I’m ready to listen to you again.
— You don’t understand the simplest things. Maybe, you just don’t want to understand me?
— I’m ready to listen to you again.

7. Distract yourself and relax

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

Here is another trick that can help you deal with this situation with ease and humor. Imagine that there is a giant aquarium with thick walls between you and your manipulator. Sound can’t go through these walls. You can only see this person’s lips move, but you have no idea what they are talking about at the moment.

8. Keep your distance

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

Manipulative people love intruding on other people’s private space. They get too close to you, they touch your hands, they pat you on the back. In order to stop this process, take a few steps back. This will help you achieve the necessary distance and stop the contact.

For many of us, it is not easy to say no when someone asks us to do something for them. In this case, you can ask a person to discuss this via text. This is great for the professional arena.

9. Analyze yourself

9 Psychological Tricks to Fight Back Against a Manipulator

Manipulative people try to make others feel guilty. For example, parents that are a little bit sick start complaining about their health to make their children run to them, and forget about their own families, jobs, and other important things.

Suffering from guilt? Do you agree with the imposed opinion that you are selfish and ungrateful? Ask yourself these questions:

  • “Am I really selfish? I’ve done a lot for her in the past. I saw her 3 times last week. I cleaned the apartment, I bought her meds, and I gave her money.”
  • “Am I really that bad? There are things I do that actually prove the opposite.”

Have you ever been manipulated? Which methods helped you get out of unpleasant situations? Share your experience: it might be useful for other people.