Manipulators don’t care. At their core, manipulators can be callous liars.
Have you ever seen the Dr. Phil show? When the balding psychologist believes that someone is trying to get one over on him or someone else, he will – in his southern drawl – proclaim “This ain’t about you-uu!”
Dr. Phil has seen his fair share of liars and manipulators. For those who like him (including this writer), to watch Dr. Phil – a mental health expert the size of an NFL linebacker – put someone in their place is a thing of beauty.
“In psychological manipulation, one person is used for the benefit of another. The manipulator deliberately creates an imbalance of power, and exploits the victim to serve his or her agenda.” ~ Psychology Today
It takes some serious gall to lie to Dr. Phil. But, liars being liars, manipulators being manipulators, they try to get one over anyways.
They may give the appearance of respectability and sincerity, but this is nothing more than window dressing. Manipulators are skilled and experienced schemers who will conceal their real motive: getting what they want – and at any cost.
The selfish nature of a manipulator is sometimes hard to see until you’ve become too involved. Again, manipulators are adept schemers; they understand the importance of gaining your trust.
Once they do, their true character reveals itself.
To avoid being duped (and potentially ruined) by a manipulator, it benefits us to understand their psychology.
Here are six subtle behaviors of manipulative people:
1. Playing dumb
Manipulators are many things, but dumb isn’t usually one of them.
They will quickly drain people’s energy in their selfish pursuits; for example, asking for help and advice only to do what they want anyway. Give a manipulator an inch, and they’ll take a mile.
When you call them out on their egotistical behavior, they’ll act as you were speaking some foreign language.
Your eyes and mind do not deceive you. That manipulative “friend” of yours, on the other hand, is deceiving you.
2. Catty gossiping
To be catty in gossip is to be subtly or indirectly insulting. Unsurprisingly, manipulators enjoy engaging in this drivel.
You see, manipulators – aside from being liars – are also cruel, malicious, and narcissistic. These personality traits are particularly evident when they feel someone has ‘wronged’ them in some way.
Sadly, many people have been victimized from their devious and nasty cattiness.
Not associating with a manipulator is the best course of action. Once you’ve uncovered their real character, just ignore them. Trust that reasonable people will do the same.
3. Testing boundaries
Abigail Brenner, M.D., a psychiatrist and contributor for Psychology Today, writes:
“Crowding into your space – physically, emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually – is of no concern to them. The lack understanding about what personal space and identify mean, or just don’t care.”
Dr. Brenner goes on to explain that permitting this behavior will likely result in someone being left in a tired and weakened state. If the manipulator detects this, which they probably will, they’ll push your boundaries even further.
Don’t allow it! Put your foot down! Whether the person is a certifiable manipulator or not is irrelevant – do not tolerate someone who violates your space.
4. Clever concealment
Do you happen to know what counterintelligence is?
Counterintelligence is defined as “activities to prevent or thwart spying, intelligence gathering, and sabotage by an enemy or other foreign entity.”
Every country with a military has people who specialize in counterintelligence within their ranks. Counterintelligence is critical to a vulnerable country’s defense (see: South Korea.)
Well, to prevent being taken advantage of by a manipulator (or anyone of ill will) requires you to tap into your counterintelligence skills. Manipulators are a crafty enemy – and some will conceal their intentions and their actions smartly.
But if you’re observant and patient, you will penetrate their “defenses.” And if you do, don’t walk – but run the other way – and out of that person’s life.
5. Changing colors
In true narcissistic fashion, manipulative people will seek out any perceived sensibilities and sensitivities. While most others truly admire and respect such personality traits, manipulators see them as a weakness; something to exploit.
As such, they will cater to the goodhearted nature of others, and even reciprocate some benevolent feelings. Kind people may befriend the chameleon, only to – slowly – see them change colors.
Once you see the chameleon begin to change colors, you are better off backing away. Yes, you are a nice person – but this isn’t a time for niceties.
6. Playing victim/blaming others
For someone so “tough,” a manipulator sure is quick to turn into a sheep when their motives are uncovered.
Call a manipulator out on something and odds are they will either play the victim or blame someone. See, manipulators are deluded and egotistical to the point of thinking that nobody is smart enough to keep up with them. Bear in mind that someone, probably multiple people, have already burst their deluded bubble.
Anyways, manipulators have no code of ethics to speak of. Playing victim or blaming someone else is just another way for them to avoid responsibility.
Dr. Brenner’s advice
In researching for this article, this writer came across an excellent piece of advice from Dr. Abigail Brenner. What she says not only pertains to manipulators, but to every person we come across in life. Here are her words:
“Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words. Always remember that what a person says and does are two very separate things. Observe someone closely, without making excuses for them – usually what you see is what you get.”