11 phrases you don’t realize are actually quite manipulative

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You know how sometimes words can be like little ninjas, sneaky and powerful, and before you know it, you’re tied up in knots? Well, that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

We’re going to pull back the curtain on 11 phrases that might sound harmless but are actually being used to make you dance like a puppet.

Let’s uncover these 11 sneaky phrases that are more manipulative than you think.

1. “Don’t you trust me?”

Have you heard this one before? It’s a phrase folks often use when they want you to agree with them, but don’t want to give good reasons for you to do so.

It’s like a guilt trip neatly packed into four small words. The person using this phrase is trying to make you feel bad for not taking their word at face value.

But remember, it’s okay to question and ask for reasons. Trust is earned, not given freely!

2. “You’re too sensitive”

Oh, this one’s a classic! Someone uses this when they want to make your feelings seem unimportant or over the top.

It’s a sly way to put the blame on you while making themselves seem like the ‘reasonable’ one.

But hey, remember, your feelings are valid.

If something bothers you, it’s important to voice it out. No one gets to tell you how you should feel about something.

3. “I’m only joking”

This phrase is a tricky one. It’s often used as a shield to say something mean and then dodge the responsibility.

I remember once when a friend of mine said something really hurtful to me. When I expressed my discomfort, she quickly retorted, “I’m only joking.” It didn’t feel like a joke to me.

In situations like these, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to let the other person know if their ‘joke’ hurt your feelings. Humor should not be an excuse for unkindness.

4. “I don’t want to argue”

On the surface, this phrase seems like a peace offering, but it’s often used to avoid accountability.

People who avoid arguments might be doing so not to keep the peace, but to escape discussions where they might have to admit they’re wrong.

So when someone says “I don’t want to argue,” they might be trying to sidestep a conversation where they need to take responsibility for their actions.

5. “You always/you never…”

When someone uses words like ‘always’ and ‘never’, it’s usually to paint a picture that’s skewed to their advantage.

It feels as if all your mistakes are under a microscope while your good deeds are lost in the shadows.

It’s important to remember that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and it’s through these mistakes that we grow.

So, the next time someone makes you feel like your flaws are all there is to you, take a moment to remind yourself of your worth and the progress you’ve made.

Because you’re so much more than your mistakes.

6. “If you really cared about me…”

This phrase takes me back to a time when a friend used it to pressure me into doing something I wasn’t comfortable with. “If you really cared about me, you’d do this,” she said.

It was a manipulation tactic, guilting me into doing something by questioning my feelings for her.

I’ve learned since then that real care and love don’t demand proof through actions that make the other person uncomfortable.

If someone uses this phrase on you, remember it’s okay to say no and care for yourself first.

7. “I hate drama”

Isn’t it ironic that the ones who claim to hate drama are often the ones stirring the pot?

It’s a manipulative tactic people use to paint themselves as innocent while blaming others.

And honestly, it gets old. We all have our fair share of chaos in life, and no one needs an extra spoon of drama.

So if someone is constantly saying they hate drama but seem to be always at the center of it, it might be time to question their role in it.

8. “You’re overreacting”

This phrase is often used to make you second-guess your feelings or responses.

Telling someone they’re overreacting is a form of gaslighting, a manipulative tactic that makes a person doubt their own feelings and reactions.

It’s a way to dismiss your feelings and make them seem insignificant.

But remember, your emotions are valid and you have every right to express them.

9. “It’s not a big deal”

Ah, the age-old tactic of belittling someone’s concerns. When someone tosses this phrase your way, it’s usually their attempt to make your worries seem trivial or overblown.

It’s like they’re handing you a pair of rose-colored glasses, hoping you’ll look through them and see the world (and their actions) as less problematic.

But hey, if it’s a big deal to you, then it’s a big deal, period. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

10. “I was just being honest”

Now, there’s a thin line between being honest and being harsh. This phrase often tiptoes on that line, veiling harsh judgments under the guise of truth-telling.

It’s like they’re serving you a sandwich, with criticism as the filling and “honesty” as the bread.

But remember, honesty should never be a free pass to be cruel or disrespectful. It’s always possible to be truthful yet tactful.

11. “You’re being defensive”

This one’s a slippery slope. It’s often used to turn the tables, making you the problem instead of addressing the issue at hand.

By calling you defensive, they’re hoping to shift the focus from their actions to your reactions. It’s like a magician’s trick, diverting your attention to make their missteps disappear.

But hey, don’t fall for it! It’s okay to defend your stance, especially when it’s justified.


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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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