Hopefully, you will avoid ever having to deal with narcissists who try to manipulate you. If, on the other hand, you suspect you are affected by someone with this behavior, it’s essential to recognize their clever (but hurtful) tactics.

Narcissists have several traits, but above all, a narcissist is selfish. They are motivated by what is best for them, not what is best for them, and it is unlikely that you will ever be able to change that about their nature. Removing yourself from a narcissist’s influence is sometimes the best thing you can do to protect your mental and emotional well-being.

What Is Narcissism?

Narcissism is a complex personality trait thought to develop due to genetic, environmental, and cultural factors. While the exact causes of narcissism are not fully understood, researchers have identified several potential contributing factors, including:

  1. Genetics: Some studies suggest that there may be a genetic component to developing narcissistic personality traits, although the exact genes involved are not yet known.
  2. Childhood experiences: Children who receive excessive praise and attention from their parents or who grow up in an environment where their needs are consistently met without any challenges or difficulties may be at a higher risk for developing narcissistic traits. On the other hand, children who experience neglect, abuse, or trauma may also develop narcissistic tendencies as a defense mechanism to protect themselves from further harm.
  3. Cultural influences: Society’s increasing emphasis on individualism, success, and self-promotion may contribute to the development of narcissistic tendencies in some individuals.
  4. Brain function: Research suggests that individuals with narcissistic traits may have differences in how their brains process information and regulate emotions.

It is important to note that not everyone with some narcissistic traits is a full-fledged narcissist and that not all narcissistic tendencies are negative. However, when narcissistic traits become extreme and interfere with an individual’s ability to form healthy relationships and maintain stable emotions, they may be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

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11 Ways Narcissists Will Try To Manipulate You

These behaviors are manipulative–even if the person is not a narcissist, you should not tolerate the abuse.

1. Triangulation

Narcissists believe they are always correct; to prove this, they will bring in a third person they have already convinced to support them. This is clearly unfair because if you had known that there was an evidentiary hearing, you would have brought witnesses of your own. Narcissists often get away with their wrong opinions through the smokescreen of having plenty of people on their side.

2. Devaluing

You may have once seemed to be everything the narcissist wanted you to be, but now it feels like they hate what they once said they liked about you. This is how the narcissist manipulates you into believing that you need to be even more than you are to please them. If you internalize this, you will feel that you have little worth. In reality, you deserve more and should not allow yourself to be devalued by anyone.

3. Narcissists use aggression

Researchers studying narcissistic personality traits related to aggressive behavior say that narcissists show strong associations with overt aggression, verbal aggression, and the inability to control their behavior or emotions. Do not get into an unsafe situation with a narcissist. Ensure you protect yourself from falling victim to the abusive tendencies of a narcissist. Again, you deserve better.

Although physical aggression is easy to see, psychological aggression is more challenging to identify. These are the traits of a psychological abuser, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline:

  • Intimidating you or making you feel afraid
  • Threatening you
  • Using denigrating language
  • Withholding emotional, physical, or financial support
  • Controlling your access to friends and family
  • Controlling your behavior
  • Pressuring you to do things that you don’t want to do

If you are fearful for your safety, get to a safe location and call 1-800-799-7233 or visit thehotline.org for resources and help to recover from a domestic violence situation.

4. Shaming

Belittling others and making them feel less valuable is one way a narcissist will try to manipulate you. If they can make you feel ashamed for your appearance, lack of education, or social class, then they feel better by comparison.

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5. Narcissists love playing the victim

The attitude of “I can’t win with you” is one of the narcissist’s tactics. By playing victim, the narcissist forces you to console and help them justify their inflated ego. Don’t back down from your stance. Otherwise, you implicitly allow the narcissist to get everything his (or her) way.

6. Inappropriate behavior

Researchers studying the everyday behavior of teenage narcissists say, “Narcissists do indeed behave in more extroverted and less agreeable ways than non-narcissists, skip class more (among narcissists high in exploitativeness/entitlement only), and use more sexual language.” These people will likely embarrass you in public and make you apologize to others for their behavior. Doing so supports the narcissist’s ego by being their lackey and smoothing things over, making it easier for them to continue getting away with unacceptable behavior.

7. Monopolizing conversation

A narcissist believes everything should be about them, so don’t be surprised if they aren’t listening to you. Not only that, but the narcissist immediately turns the topic back to themselves and cuts you off when you speak, but will not tolerate it if you cut them off.

8. Projecting

Whatever you accuse the narcissist of doing, they reflect and blame you for it. They project their behavior onto others because they believe they are flawless.

9. Brainwashing

Have you found yourself doing things you don’t want to do for a narcissist? This is another form of them manipulating you. Somehow, they used a ploy to get you to obey their command despite your not wanting to.

10. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is an insidious tool used by psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists. This tactic makes you question your sanity. For example, they may insist that you’re the abusive one, that you don’t listen to their feelings, and that you bring them down while verbally and emotionally abusing you in the same conversation. They may even get physical with you, but if you turn your back on them, they will insist you are disrespectful.

11. Narcissists engage in verbal aggression

Yelling and using insulting language is another way a narcissist will try to manipulate you. Again, the tactic is to make you feel small and fearful. Stay strong in the face of this kind of bullying behavior. Keep your voice calm and at an average volume; ask the narcissist to do the same. If they do not change how they speak to you, refuse to talk to them.


Final Thoughts on Recognizing the Manipulative Tactics of Narcissists

The causes of narcissism are not fully understood and likely involve a combination of genetic, environmental, cultural, and brain function factors. But when you recognize the behaviors, understanding their tactics can help you avoid becoming the next victim.