Manipulate: to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage. – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
One thing is for certain: manipulators are great at what they do, namely being deceptive. Let’s evaluate the above definition by Merriam-Webster.
Are manipulators “artful”?
Well, it certainly makes sense. In no way does a manipulator create wonderful, beautiful pieces of art. But they do take their “craft” of playing on someone else’s emotions quite seriously; in many ways that a talented artist painstakingly decorates an empty canvas. Disturbing, but true nonetheless.
Are manipulators unfair?
Beyond a doubt. “Fairness” isn’t an attribute that manipulators embody. They could care less about how fair or unfair they’re being. They care about what they can “get” from someone else, regardless of the magnitude of pain they may inflict, which is often severe.
Are manipulators insidious?
To be insidious is to knowingly create harm in an ambiguous manner, which manipulators certainly do (again, quite well). Those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a manipulators subtle “suggestions” are often unaware of their motives until the damage has been done.
This segues quite well into the topic of this article. Those that practice manipulation have a common set of phrases that they use to accomplish their mischievous means. In this sense, people are just a “means to an end,” nothing more and nothing less.
Here are 5 phrases manipulators say to make you feel crazy:
1. “You’re misunderstanding what I said.”
This is a common phrase uttered by manipulators when they’re “caught” in the act of saying or doing something deceptive. When this happens, they’ll turn the table on us in order to create a sense of doubt.
This cannot be overstated: manipulators thrive on creating negative emotions. Further, these unfortunate souls also get joy out of someone else’s “confusion.” We can be fully confident that we’re not the ones confused. We fully understood what was said or done, which is the opposite of a manipulator’s intent. If we encounter someone that consistently utters this phrase, it at least warrants further examination.
2. “You’re acting crazy/irrational/illogical, etc.”
This phrase is a close cousin to the first. The purpose here, again, is to create a sense of doubt and/or confusion. The primary difference in this phrase is that it is a direct attack on our mental faculties. Yes, you read that right…it is a direct attack. One doesn’t call another person crazy, illogical, irrational, etc. for any other reason than to hurt them.
It doesn’t matter the tone in which this phrase is uttered; it’s the context. Indeed, manipulators may sound detached when saying this in order to make it sound less personal. Make no mistake: it is personal. It is hurtful. It is purposeful. It requires a swift and direct response.
3. “You’re too sensitive.”
No you aren’t, you’re a logical human being. Nobody would respond kindly to being taken advantage of, which is exactly what the manipulator is doing. What does this phrase do? Pretty simple, it creates doubt (see a pattern here?)
Even if one is sensitive, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, sensitive people are the ones that often fall prey to acts of manipulation. Sensitive people care; sensitive people comfort; sensitive people embrace others.
Again, unfortunately, sensitive people are more likely to closely examine their thoughts and actions. That’s what a manipulator wants them to do…examine…examine some more… and then concede defeat.
Don’t allow it to happen!
4. “I don’t like drama.”
Yes, they do. In fact, serial manipulators thrive on it, they just do so in a different way. Generally speaking, manipulators don’t express drama in the physical sense. They don’t shrug their shoulders, sigh heavily, or speak loudly. They prefer to “go about their business” of manipulating others in subtle, less obvious ways.
The point here is that the victim is, once again, forced to examine their actions. Are they being dramatic? Are they making too much out of too little? No and no. Sadly, many people on the receiving end of a manipulators antics are more than willing to admit to wrongdoing when they have absolutely no reason to do so.
5. “You’re thinking too much.”
Here’s a changeup: maybe you are thinking too much, maybe not. Even if you are, in this sense, it’s a positive development. It’s a positive because you’re rationalizing; refusing the psychological tricks that manipulators often use to get their way.
But here’s the caveat: it’s very difficult, perhaps impossible, to make sense of a manipulative person. It’s impossible because manipulation is not a rational behavior. Taken a step further, it’s irrational, abnormal, and extremely hurtful. Simply put: a person that truly cares for and loves someone else does not exhibit manipulative traits.
If you’re a person that’s been on the receiving end of manipulation, you’re probably hurting and filled with doubt. Take heart by understanding and believing that there is nothing wrong with you.
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It’s the manipulator, and them alone.