It’s sadly quite common to encounter someone who’s toxic or who engages in manipulation tactics. The chances are that if you’ve been around enough people in your life, you would have encountered a fair number of manipulative and downright poisonous people.
But toxicity isn’t always easy to spot. Besides that, you can fall prey to those machinations if you remain unaware. Here are four ways to spot toxic people to escape their manipulation tactics.
1. They Avoid Responsibility By Deploying Manipulation Tactics
Toxic people often want to avoid having any responsibility at all for their mistakes or issues. They don’t want to ever be in the position of “wrong.” It’s no surprise, then, that many manipulators are motivated by the desire to improve their appearance to others and get away with harm, say studies.
It can be hard to fight the toxicity of someone who is always avoiding responsibility and accountability. Trying to go toe-to-toe with them will lead you in circles because their goal isn’t a resolution – it’s to get off scot-free. Here are some signs of a toxic person trying to manipulate their way to responsibility avoidance:
Projection is the act of putting your emotions onto someone else, assuming everyone else feels what they feel while also denying your feelings. For example, an individual projecting their envy of you will accuse you of being envious of them. Or an angry individual will accuse you of being in a bad mood. A toxic person will continually project their own emotions onto the people around them, refusing to take responsibility for their feelings and insisting that they are yours. Don’t fall into the trap of defending and justifying yourself! This doesn’t have anything to do with you, really, and you’ll wind up going in circles.
· They’re Always Right – But They’re Not
People are wrong all the time, and we mainly accept that this is just a natural part of being human. But a toxic person refuses to admit that they could ever be wrong. They will twist anything to make it, so they seem like they’re right, even when they aren’t. Learning to note this so you can take what they say with a grain of salt will help you filter out the nonsense and stick to talking to those who will take responsibility for incorrect information.
· They Don’t Apologize, Even If You Confront Them About The Manipulation Tactics
Toxic people are focused on avoiding responsibility – and that means they can’t admit to fault. Instead of apologizing or even just owning up to something they’ve done, they’ll opt to lie, twist the situation, deflect blame, and deceive so much that they’ll even convince themselves they’re right. If you want an apology from a toxic person, you need to be prepared not to get it. Focus on maintaining your position of truth and disengage once it becomes clear that there will not be a positive outcome. There’s no sense in wasting your time.
2. They’re Focused On Themselves
There’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first, and you should be your priority in life. But toxic individuals take this to the next level. They don’t just take care of themselves – they’re obsessed with themselves to the level of focusing only on their little world. They behave as if they’re the center of the universe and can’t relate to other people. Here are some signs of this manipulation tactic in toxic people:
· They Take and Never Give
Toxic people always seem to expect and insist upon the “charity” of others. They have no interest in reciprocating any of the help that they receive and continually feel entitled to that help, often in an infuriating way. If this is pointed out to them, they may accuse you of being calculative or selfish or even find a way to explain that their acts of taking were acts of giving towards you. Know the value of your efforts and labor, and don’t fall victim to toxic people trying to take care of your desire to give!
· They Boast
Being proud of how far you’ve come is a fantastic and positive thing! But toxic people will only use their pride in their accomplishments to put down other people. When you talk about your achievements, they’ll barge in and overpower you with their own stories, and they can’t help talking about themselves at all times, no matter how irrelevant it is. Please don’t give them the satisfaction of attention!
· They Want Everything To Go Their Way
The world doesn’t revolve around anyone, much less a toxic person. But that doesn’t stop them from desperately wanting it to or genuinely believing that it does or should. This can make toxic people very controlling. They’ll try to make you fall in line with their desires and be very overbearing about what they want to be done. Make sure that you stand up for yourself with positive thinking. Don’t let them push you around!
3. They Try To Make You Feel Bad About Yourself
You would think that it would be easy to notice when a toxic person tries to manipulate you into losing some of your self-confidence. But in reality, manipulators are very good at using underhanded tactics that make them look innocent while dragging you down. This can leave you second-guessing yourself, wondering if you’re too sensitive, or even directly making you feel like you’re the bad guy.
Debasement, which is the act of reducing the quality or value of something or someone, is a common manipulation tactic that research has long shown. Guard yourself against that toxicity by being aware of these common signs that someone is trying to make you feel bad about yourself with indirect manipulation:
Toxic people tend to judge the people around them harshly, jumping to false conclusions about other people’s character and capabilities based on arbitrary things. Worse still, some toxic people disguise this by claiming that they’re just giving healthy constructive criticism, urging you to accept their words with positive thinking. But there’s a difference between valid feedback and plain insults. Don’t let them convince you their terms are more helpful than they are.
· They Let Their Tone Carry Weight
A toxic person is very good at saying things that sound nice while their tone is anything but that. Given how much stock human beings put into all forms of communication – including what is technically unspoken – toxic people know that they’ll get their message across without explicitly stating it. Words such as “It looks like you had a good day!” seem positive, but the tone can completely change that.
For example, that sentence could be intoned to say, “It takes so little to please you so you have a good day, which I think is pathetic.” or “My day was so much worse than yours, and I’m so angry that you didn’t ask me about it first!”. If you call them out on these tones, though, they’ll be able to deny it by saying that all they said was that you had a good day. It can be frustrating to deal with this toxicity, and sometimes the best option is to either play oblivious or directly ask for better communication.
· They Make You Feel Defensive as a Manipulation Tactic
Do you notice that you tend to feel very defensive around a particular person? Specifically, do you often find yourself having to justify yourself for reasons that seem obvious? Think about your interactions with them and consider why you feel this way. The chances are that this person is toxic. Perhaps they meet everything you say with criticism or argument, or they always have something negative to say about your actions. If you find yourself in this situation, disengaging from that person is your best option.
4. They Paint Themselves In Dishonest Ways
Dishonesty and deception are almost synonymous with manipulation, which is why toxic people tend to present themselves in inaccurate ways. Unfortunately, most people aren’t going to automatically assume that someone is dishonest, so toxic individuals can manipulate others into believing that they’re someone completely different all the time.
It’s tougher than it sounds to see through this dishonesty. Here are some signs to look out for that a toxic person is painting themselves incorrectly:
· They Always Play The Victim (One of the most common manipulation tactics)
Playing the victim allows someone to gain attention and sympathy and involves pretending to be innocent of all wrong, pointing to many different things that have harmed them instead. For example, if they were late for something, they’ll whine about the terrible situation they’re in with their personal lives, or they’ll blame someone for not reminding them. Toxic people are very good at perfecting the victim act, making people feel sorry for them even when they take ownership of their actions and circumstances.
· They Pretend To Care
To look like a good person, someone who is toxic will need to make it seem like they care about you and the people around them. Of course, someone whose goal is manipulation isn’t going to care about you or anyone else, so they must opt for deception instead. They’ll pretend to be sorry, sad for you, or sympathetic to gain your favor. Keep an eye out for dishonest behavior, and don’t be fooled by compassion that isn’t genuine. The valid concern is followed up by action.
· They Behave Inconsistently
Human beings are complex and have different moods and thoughts based on different situations in their everyday lives. But with toxic people, that natural level of unpredictability reaches new heights. Their opinions and beliefs could swing from one extreme to the other depending on the day. They could treat plans one way now and immediately switch tomorrow. It can be very confusing, especially if it is accompanied by an apparent negative pivot in attitude that makes you feel like you need to help them or figure out what’s wrong. Once again, disengaging from inconsistent and manipulative behavior is the best way to handle this issue.
It can be hard to deal with toxic people. But the first step is being able to tell when someone is behaving in manipulation tactics. Once you know someone has these traits, you can learn to escape their ploys and disengage from their rhetoric.