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Manipulative individuals often use a variety of tactics to bend others to their will. Understanding these behaviors can be crucial in recognizing and dealing with manipulation in personal, professional, and social situations.

manipulative people

Here are ten common strategies used by manipulative people:


This is a psychological tactic where the manipulator causes someone to question their own reality, memory or perceptions. It’s a subtle way of twisting information to benefit the manipulator.

To better understand and combat gaslighting, reading “Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis can be incredibly helpful.

Playing the Victim

Manipulators often pretend to be victims of circumstances or others’ actions to gain sympathy and leverage over others.

The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout explores this tactic in-depth, offering insights on how to protect oneself from such manipulation.


By making someone feel guilty, often by highlighting a sense of obligation or duty, manipulators can control their actions or decisions.

For those who often find themselves succumbing to guilt trips, “Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You” by Susan Forward is a must-read. It provides strategies to break free from these emotional manipulations.

Passive Aggressive Behavior

This includes indirect resistance and avoidance of direct confrontation. It’s a way to express anger or discontent in a non-assertive manner.

“The Passive-Aggressive Covert Narcissist” by Debbie Mirza offers an in-depth look at this behavior and practical advice on dealing with it.

Exaggeration and Lying

Manipulators often distort facts and reality to suit their needs, which can involve outright lying or exaggerating truths.

To navigate through the complex web of lies and exaggerations, consider “Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception” by Pamela Meyer. This book is a powerful tool for uncovering truths hidden in lies.


By isolating their victims from friends, family, or colleagues, manipulators can exercise more control and reduce the victim’s ability to seek support.

Love Bombing and Devaluation

This is common in romantic relationships, where the manipulator showers their partner with excessive affection, only to devalue them later to gain control.


This involves the manipulator projecting their own negative traits onto their victim, making the victim feel they are at fault.

Feigning Ignorance or Confusion

Pretending not to understand or be aware of certain facts or situations, manipulators avoid responsibility and manipulate others into doing what they want.

Flattery and Excessive Compliments

Used to butter someone up before asking for a favor or support, this tactic plays on the recipient’s ego and desire for approval.

Understanding and Responding to Manipulation

Recognizing these tactics is the first step in dealing with manipulative behavior. It’s important to set boundaries, seek support, and stay true to your own perceptions and feelings. Professional help, like counseling or therapy, can also be beneficial in understanding and coping with the impact of manipulation.

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