10 phrases manipulative people use to gain your trust

Ever found yourself in a conversation, feeling oddly swayed by persuasive language, but can’t quite put your finger on why?

Chances are, you may have encountered a manipulator.

Though it might seem like they have a strange way of making you trust them, the truth is that manipulative people use specific phrases and tactics to subtly guide the conversation in their favor.

So, it’s time to pull back the curtain on these manipulation tactics, and delve into 10 common phrases manipulative people often use to gain your trust.

These are tactics that may seem harmless or even charming, but are actually red flags signaling a hidden agenda.

Let’s dive in. 

1. Flattery and Compliments

Ever received a compliment that seemed to come out of the blue? Been praised for a trait or achievement that seemed out of character for the person praising you?

Manipulative people often use flattery and compliments as a way to soften you up. They’re experts at making you feel special and appreciated.

And who doesn’t like to hear good things about themselves, right? But that’s exactly how they catch you off guard.

This tactic helps them build a bond with you, making you more likely to trust them. It’s a subtle, yet effective way of getting under your skin and influencing your decisions.

So, the next time someone showers you with unexpected praise, take a moment to question their intentions.

It’s not cynical, but critical. You’re just being aware of the potential manipulation tactic at play – and that’s an important step in protecting yourself.

2. Playing the Victim Card

I’ll never forget the time a former colleague constantly painted himself as the victim, regardless of the situation.

He often used phrases like “It’s always me who gets treated unfairly” or “Why does this only happen to me?”. It was his go-to strategy to gain sympathy and manipulate situations in his favor.

Manipulative people are adept at spinning stories to appear as the victim. By eliciting your empathy, they’re able to influence your actions and decisions, often making you feel obligated to help or side with them.

So, next time someone consistently portrays themselves as the underdog or the victim, take a step back and evaluate whether it’s a genuine cry for help or just another manipulative tactic.

It’s not about being heartless, but being smart. It’s crucial to differentiate between empathy and manipulation – that’s self-preservation at its finest.

3. Creating a Sense of Urgency

Ever been told, “If you don’t act now, you’ll miss out!” or “This opportunity won’t last long!”? That’s a manipulative person trying to push your buttons.

Manipulators often create a false sense of urgency to pressure you into making quick decisions. The fear of missing out or losing something valuable can cloud your judgment, making it easier for them to sway you in their favor.

It’s a classic manipulation tactic: rush the decision and reduce the time for clear thinking or consultation with others.

When you’re pushed into making a hurried decision, take a deep breath. It’s okay to ask for more time.

Taking your time to make decisions is not only smart but also a great way to stave off manipulative tactics.

4. The Use of Reciprocity

“Since I helped you out, could you do this for me?” Sounds familiar? That’s the principle of reciprocity at work, a powerful tool in a manipulator’s arsenal.

According to social psychology, humans are wired to return favors and strive for fairness. Manipulative people take advantage of this innate tendency, making you feel indebted to them by doing you small favors or acts of kindness.

Once they’ve done something for you, they expect something in return, often something much bigger. This can lead to an imbalance in the relationship, with the manipulator calling the shots.

When someone tries to make you feel like you owe them because of a past favor, don’t be afraid to challenge it.

It’s perfectly okay to acknowledge their help without feeling obligated to pay back disproportionately.

5. Sharing ‘Secrets’

“I shouldn’t be telling you this, but…” or “This is just between us…”

These phrases might sound like the start of a close, trusting relationship. But in reality, they could be a manipulator’s way of making you feel special and included.

Sharing ‘secrets’ or confidential information is often used to foster a sense of intimacy, even when there isn’t any. By making you feel privy to exclusive information, they draw you closer and earn your trust.

But the heartache comes when you realize that the secret was not so secret after all, or it was a lie designed to manipulate your feelings.

When someone shares a ‘secret’ with you, handle it with care.

It’s not about rejecting their trust, but handling it wisely. It’s essential to understand when shared secrets are an act of genuine trust or a manipulative strategy.

6. Gaslighting

“Are you sure? I think you’re misremembering” or “You’re being too sensitive”.

These phrases are classic examples of gaslighting, a manipulative tactic meant to make you question your own perception and sanity.

Gaslighters twist the truth, deny facts, and manipulate your thoughts to the point where you start doubting your own memory and judgment. This paves the way for them to control and manipulate you, often without you even realizing it.

Gaslighting can be incredibly damaging to your self-esteem and confidence, making it one of the most dangerous manipulation tactics.

When you find yourself questioning your own memory or judgment based on someone else’s insistence, take a step back.

Trust in your own experiences and perceptions – they are valid and they matter.

7. Guilt-Tripping

“You’re going to leave me all alone?” or “After all I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me?”

These are phrases that manipulate your emotions, making you feel guilty for not complying with the person’s wishes.

Guilt-tripping is a common tactic used by manipulative people to get what they want. By making you feel guilty, they can influence your actions and decisions, often leading you to go against what you actually want.

This form of emotional manipulation can leave you feeling trapped and obliged to fulfill their demands, even at the cost of your own happiness.

When someone tries to guilt-trip you into doing something, stand your ground.

It’s not about being heartless, but being respectful of your own needs. It’s okay to say no when something doesn’t align with your wants or needs. Your emotional well-being matters.

8. Playing the Innocent

“I didn’t mean to hurt you” or “I didn’t realize it would upset you”.

These phrases are often used by manipulators under the guise of innocence. They act as if they had no idea their actions or words would cause harm, thus absolving themselves of any responsibility.

In psychology, this is known as “Darvo” – an acronym for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.” It’s a defense mechanism used by manipulators to deflect blame and maintain control.

This tactic can create confusion and cause you to question whether their intentions were indeed innocent or manipulative. This uncertainty often gives them the advantage, keeping you off balance and more susceptible to manipulation.

When someone plays innocent after causing harm, remember to trust your instincts. Your feelings are valid and should be acknowledged and respected.

9. The Silent Treatment

“I don’t want to talk about it” or simply ignoring your messages and calls. I’ve been on the receiving end of this form of manipulation and it’s incredibly unsettling.

The silent treatment is a manipulator’s way of gaining control by making you feel uncomfortable or anxious. The lack of communication forces you to walk on eggshells, often leading you to concede just to restore normal communication.

This form of manipulation can be very damaging, as it promotes an unhealthy power dynamic in the relationship.

Don’t let the silence pressure you into submission. Instead, address the issue directly and assertively.

10. Twisting Your Words

“That’s not what you said before” or “You’re contradicting yourself”.

Manipulators often distort your words, making you doubt your own statements. This tactic confuses you, making it easier for them to control the narrative and manipulate the situation.

It’s crucial to be aware of this strategy. Standing firm in your convictions and having confidence in your own words is the best defense against this manipulation tactic.

Remember, your voice matters. Don’t let anyone twist your words or make you question your own statements. Be firm, be confident, and always speak your truth.

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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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