Psychological or emotional manipulation is such a tactic which may be used on you right now and you are absolutely unaware of it. Manipulation is the use of verbal and non-verbal techniques meant to coerce undue influence, guilt and act. Sadly, emotional and psychological manipulation is more common in our society than we would like to acknowledge.

Manipulation is a unspoken method used often in the workplace. Sales people may use it on customers and employers and bosses on their subordinates. However we should not confuse it with influence and discipline which are impersonal and are aimed for a higher goal. Manipulations are generally targeted to one or a handful of individuals usually meant to exercise power and control.

Here some telltale signs of  manipulators that will help you stay aware of their clutches.

Signs of emotional manipulation 

A manipulator does not look any different in physical appearance. In fact, most of them are extremely well spoken. However there are always the red flags that you are in the presence of a manipulating individual.

#1 The ‘Home Court Advantage’ 

According to Professor Preston Ni in Psychology Today, “a manipulative individual may insist on you meeting and interacting in a physical space where he or she can exercise more dominance and control”. He will pick a place like his office or home where he is in control of the physical surroundings and he feels the ownership of the physical space.

In his physical space, there are many ways to place furniture and insignia that non verbally shows him ‘higher’. For example, manipulators always take a higher and more luxurious seat that his guest. In a psychological way, this is way to subdue his or her guests and exercise more dominance.

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#2 Makes you doubt yourself

A manipulator will turn up as a ‘well wisher’ or ‘helper’ but end up making you feel scared and confused. This is not to be confused with people who speak genuinely and the truly, sometimes which may be unpleasant. A manipulator does not care about the truth or your well-being.

A manipulator can be someone who is envious on the inside; he or she may not want to see you succeed. However he pretends as your well wisher with his hidden agenda.

A tactic a manipulator would use is to make you feel that your problems are not important. “You are just overreacting”. They will not agree with you even if they know that you are right. They will tell you build a bridge in a wrong way and wait eagerly for it to collapse.

#3 They target on the trusting and sensitive people

A manipulative individual will always seek out those people who are either trust them or are insecure or in some way sensitive. They know when to push the button because they know their target’s weaknesses and portray themselves as a ‘friend in need’. This way a manipulator can control his or her victim. As the target trusts the manipulator, it is very difficult for him to know that he is being manipulated. For many people it may take even years to realize that they are being emotionally manipulated.

Emotional Manipulation in work and relationship

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#4 Turn your words on you

Whatever you tell them will be used against you. This is a cruel tactic of emotional manipulation. It is brutal because you have trusted the person and shared your difficulties and weaknesses with them. The manipulator will show sympathy on face but your issues becomes a tool for him to control you.

One of the ways a manipulator uses it to pass this information to someone who is a ‘higher’ authority. At home it could be parent whom the manipulator instigates against a family member.

At work he or she could pass ‘half true’ information to your boss or an HR manager. By trading you in secret, he or she gains favour from both sides. When your boss takes action on you, the same manipulator will be sympathetic to you and make you feel that you can trust him at this difficult time.

#5 They avoid straightforward conversations

A manipulative individual will always avoid frank open heart conversations. He or she will never be straightforward and go for the emotional ‘backdoor’. He or she will show interest in you at first to get information about you but will never reveal much about them. Answers about them will always be roundabout. The only time they will speak it out is when they want something from you.

Manipulators are hard to handle by psychologists, doctors, lawyers and cops. They have a habit on not speaking the truth at all. They manipulate everyone which makes them suspicious of everyone.

#6 They will anger to control

One of the tools of emotional manipulation is ‘showing off’ anger. They use this anger to scare and dominate others. A manipulator will also brag and boast about his anger and the ‘glory’ of it. By telling people how angry they can get, they pass the message that they are always ‘right’.

The other way to use anger is to create discomfort in the person. Slamming the door, raise voice, short answers, passive aggression are all used by the manipulator without any care. And then they will make you feel responsible and guilty for their anger.

#7 Make you feel GUILTY

This is one of the biggest emotional manipulation technique. Manipulators know that by making a person feel guilty, they can easily exploit him or her.

A manipulator may avoid you and then blame it on you for avoiding her. The manipulator will be rude to your feelings but you cannot answer back in the same tone. They will tell you what a difficult childhood they had and how they lost their loved ones – just when they did something wrong – so that make you forget what wrong was done and feel sorry for them. This happens again and again. They will become a victim every time they have to answer for. The other person would usually feel sorry and ashamed for being hard on them and forgive the manipulator. Then this cycle repeats and repeats.

Guilt has been one of the greatest tools of manipulation in the history of the society. Some unscrupulous religious men use guilt to make people give up their money. Some immoral kings and political leaders have also used guilt to control the masses.

In love and relationships, guilt is often seen used to control the partner and hook his or her attention. Some hurt themselves physically , pretend or actually get sick, or threaten to hurt themselves to make their partner stick on to them.

More cleverly, a manipulative partner tells how much money they spent on that vacation, dress and jewelry just to avoid emotional attachment and care towards their partner. A manipulator can turn into victim in an instant to make you feel guilty. The phrase ‘crocodile tears’ was actually invented for a manipulative individual.

#8 They will glibly deny what they said

Cases of prolonged emotional manipulation are serious enough to make an individual go mentally unstable. A manipulator with his slick talk deny what he said and promised, leaving the other person confused and in time, unstable.

In 1938 Patrick Hamilton wrote the play Gaslight that was made into films and the expression gaslighting became popular. Gaslighting is a way manipulators use to disorient a target. He lies, gives false cases, misdirects and muddles with the memory of his prey. Slowly the victim starts to lose confidence, mental strength and then, sanity.

A manipulator in this way makes his target believes what he wants. They will tell you to do something and later deny it cleverly putting you in trouble.

Their actions are different from what they say. They will speak of great ideals and stoop to lowly things when it comes to act. A manipulating individual can ruin a person’s career and personal life.

#9 Everybody should do what he wants

He or she will let everyone in the room know what they like and want. He or she will raise the voice and everyone must bow to their demand. A manipulator wants the most comfortable seat, the best slice and will criticize and insult anyone.

A manipulative individual will not care of other’s discomfort or dislikes. He or she may speak loudly, swear and have no regard for manners and courtesies. For a clever manipulator, his problems and insecurities are also yours to bear and solve.

#10 A manipulator brings pessimism and negative energy to the room

Since a manipulator thrives on bringing others down instead of raising them up, this behaviour is also called toxic. Books have also called them as ‘energy vampires’ and ‘parasitic’ people.

A person who takes pleasure in psychological and emotional manipulation gets identified with creatures who only take from the victim without any care for their well being. It is difficult to team with manipulators at the workplace and relationships with them do not last long.

But it is not easy to identify and handle a manipulator. They may walk into a room with such sadness that you would rather want to help them. They will always have troubles and excuses for them. Your solutions will never be good enough because they are not looking for solutions. They want attention,  unjustifiable pampering and indulgence.

Manipulators can be of a sleazy nature, uncaring for the other person’s commitments. In fact some manipulators take a greater pleasure in pursuing married people than singles as a game or challenge.

Manipulators can take away all the positivity and optimism of the room making one feel drained and tired. Watch out for these red flags and protect yourself from these unseen perils. Share this with anyone whom you think needs to read this.

Emotional Manipulation in work and relationship

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How To Deal With A Manipulator

If you have identified an emotional manipulator, well done. The next step is to keep yourself and your sanity safe. Manipulators will make you angry and frustrated because their behaviour has no pattern or reason. They are irrational and illogical.

The first step to handle emotional manipulation is to step off. Keep distance, avoid him or her as much as possible. Cut the person off from your home, office, social networks. Avoid having any conversations or interactions as much possible. At first it may seem rude and he or she will try to make you feel very guilty. Keeping yourself safe and well is your first priority and if you do not do so even when you know, you should not blame anyone else later.

Sometimes it is not possible to avoid the person. In that case, reduce your interactions. Keep it barely minimum. Do not share your problems, do not talk of your personal life. Never complain or criticize anybody near them. If they try to get your attention, slowly withdraw. Do not make rash decisions, do not speak it out – they will end it by making themselves the victim and you feeling guilty or stupid.

Times come when a manipulator need to stopped in a strong way. Make sure you stand on clear ground. A manipulative individual knows how to create chaos and confusion. He or she may even instigate you so that you get violent.

If the manipulator is in any way exhibiting physical or emotional violence, seek immediate help.

One of the best ways to handle emotional manipulation is to introspect. Look inside your own self, what strings have you handed over to him or her? Why is the personal manipulating and controlling you? These insights will help you know your weakness.

Some people think that you should manipulate a manipulator. The truth is, it becomes a never ending game. Not only do you stoop to his level but also shift your energy from better stuff in life. Try diplomacy and patience, these are better tools to handle manipulators.

Have you faced emotional manipulation in your life? How did you overcome it, let us know in the comments.

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