Manipulative people are everywhere these days, from social media to the workplace. To benefit them, they want you to give up something, whether that is time, money, or influence. A manipulator will play on your emotions or play the martyr to make you feel sorry for them.
Children will cry and give you the “sad face,” while adults will tell you some sob story to manipulate you into getting what they want.
Manipulative people will manufacture drama or emotionally charged situations to elicit strong emotions from you and inhibit your ability to think clearly. Once you are in a vulnerable state, you are easier to manipulate.
The best thing you can do to deal with manipulative people is ignore them or cut them out of your life. But if you must deal with them because of work or they are a family member, then here are nine comebacks that will put them in their place.
Here Are 9 Comebacks for Dealing with a Manipulator:
Try telling this negative person one of these phrases.
You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. A manipulative person will try to use guilt or sympathy to pressure you to do what they want. Just say no. You control your own time and resources, so don’t let others guilt you into changing your plans to suit them or giving them something when you don’t really have it to give.
2. “I’m swamped; maybe we can talk some other time.”
Manipulators need to be able to speak with you for them to work their tricks. If you deny them the opportunity to talk with you, they cannot affect you. If you blow them off enough, they will search for easier prey.
3. “I need you to take a step back.”
Manipulators will sometimes try to use intimidation to get what they want. Establish boundaries with them and show that you will not be intimidated by standing up to them. Also, be aware of your surroundings and avoid where a manipulator can corner you alone.
4. “My heart bleeds for you.”
Manipulative people will give you a sob story to elicit a sympathetic response that they can abuse to get whatever it is that they want. Feeling sorry for them lowers your guard and makes it easier for them to manipulate your emotional state. Don’t let them.
5. “I will talk to you when you calm down.”
Manipulators will use high emotional states to distract or confuse you by getting you to react emotionally instead of rationally. When you are highly emotional, you are vulnerable to manipulation, and they know it.
6. “My feelings are just as valid as yours.”
Manipulators will try to invalidate your feelings or treat them as inconsequential. You have just as much right to your feelings as they have to theirs. Don’t let them dictate how or what you should feel about a situation.
7. “That is not acceptable.”
If a manipulator violates your boundaries with their words or actions, you should let them know that you will not be bullied or pressured to give them what they want. Set firm boundaries and stick to them. Manipulators want easy prey – if you set and enforce boundaries, they will look elsewhere for a victim.
8. “I have value and worth as a person.”
Manipulators will try to make you feel worthless or stupid. They feed on people who have low self-esteem. If they can make you feel useless or worthless without them, they make you dependent on them and easier to manipulate. If you value yourself, no one can tell you that you are worthless because you know better.
9. “Don’t talk to me.”
The best way to deal with a manipulator is not to engage them in conversation. If they can’t talk to you, they can’t manipulate you. By shutting them down, you let them know that you will not play their games. It sets a boundary and discourages them before they get started.
Remain firm when dealing with a manipulator. Once you stop the behavior with positive reinforcement, they recognize that they have lost their power over you. Setting boundaries is important. These people need recognition and will use negativity to get what they want.
Seven Key Signs of a Manipulator
Unfortunately, manipulators have become even more sneaky these days, making it easier to deceive people. If you have your guard down, you may unknowingly let one of these cold-hearted individuals into your life. Look out for these red flags so they can’t take advantage of you.
1. A manipulator believes they can never do wrong.
Manipulators always know how to twist their stories and blame others when things go wrong. They will never take responsibility for their actions and instead act like victims. In their minds, they make the right decisions 100% of the time, no matter the pain and suffering they inflict on others.
If you try to confront them about their behavior, they will act defensively or gaslight you in an attempt to cloud your vision. They may change the story’s details or make excuses to justify their actions. No matter what you say, they will never admit wrongdoing because that would threaten their image.
2. They act overly charming.
Studies consistently show that manipulators will ramp up the charm to reel people in. Once they have you in their grasp, you become a tool they can use to extract money, favors, or whatever else they want. They don’t actually value others aside from what they can get out of them.
However, the unsuspecting victims only see a nice, thoughtful person who’s giving them compliments or offering to help them somehow. They don’t show their true colors until after they’ve won the victim over, and by then, it’s often too late. Narcissists and manipulators prey on those they view as empathetic, openhearted, or vulnerable, as these people make the best targets.
3. A manipulator will lie to get what they want.
Manipulators hide behind masks and never tell the whole story if they’ve done something wrong. Admitting what they did would make them vulnerable or weak, and they can’t have others see them in that light. So, a manipulative person will lie or exaggerate to protect their ego.
They may tell white lies to leave out important information that might expose their true intentions. After all, they must keep up this image of perfection so that others will continue to trust them.
However, this desire to appear flawless is usually due to intense past trauma that they haven’t dealt with. As a child, their parents may have pushed them too hard in school or abused them somehow, making them feel they had to be perfect. They’ve learned to manipulate others as a defense mechanism for their fragile ego, but they don’t want people to know that.
4. They will make you feel guilty.
A manipulator loves nothing more than guilt-tripping others to bolster their self-esteem. A manipulative person will use this tactic to gaslight you and destroy your sense of reality. This way, they make you seem like the crazy person when they’ve been the source of the problem. However, they have such a distorted view of themselves that they can’t see the damage they’re causing.
In their eyes, everyone else is out to get them, so they make others feel guilty for their behavior. They will constantly play the victim card and expect you to save them from themselves. When you don’t do as they wish, they will dish out insults and make you feel like the bad guy. They feed off people with low self-esteem because it makes them feel more powerful.
5. A manipulator tends to change the subject when they feel uncomfortable.
Manipulators don’t like to lose and can’t stand when people see past their masks. The second they feel threatened, or that you’ve caught onto their scheme, they will redirect the conversation. You may feel that you can’t come to them with any problem because they skirt around issues or blow up in your face. At their core, they’re still a child who can’t take responsibility for their own behaviors.
They may also change the subject if you start talking about yourself. They’re incapable of caring about other people’s needs, so they don’t want to hear about your day or any problems in your life. The second you bring up something important to you, they will act indifferent or shift the conversation back to them.
6. They only have negative things to say about others.
Manipulators have a rude, abrasive demeanor and frequently put others down to lift themselves. These people see others negatively and will never compliment anyone, except in the “love bombing” phase. However, if they don’t want anything from you, they won’t hesitate to dish out the insults.
They take great joy in taking jabs at others and making them feel small. Manipulators love to gossip about people or spread rumors because it bolsters their self-esteem. They’re energy vampires who thrive on draining people of happiness and seeing them in misery.
7. The manipulator acts like a brainiac, but not in a good way.
There’s nothing wrong with being a know-it-all, as long as you humbly discuss your wisdom. We all have something to learn from and teach others, but unfortunately, manipulators have underlying intentions when they display their intellect.
They will talk confidently on almost any subject as if they know what they’re talking about. They may not understand much about the topic, but acting like an expert is part of their master plan. If they can build trust and confidence, others will see them in a positive light, making it easier to manipulate them.
Final Thoughts on Using These Phrases to Stop a Manipulator
Manipulators will use every trick in the book to deceive people and get what they want from them. They have no regard for others’ well-being and only view them as a means to an end. These people need therapy to heal from past traumas most of the time, as they’ve learned to manipulate as a survival tactic. However, their behaviors cause real harm to others who may feel sorry for the manipulator and want to help them.
Remember to set boundaries and stand up for yourself when dealing with a manipulator. Watch out for the warning signs above so you don’t become their next victim.