8 phrases controlling people use to manipulate you, according to psychology

There’s a fine line between being influenced and being manipulated.

Manipulation is all about control, making you do things you wouldn’t normally agree to, without realizing what’s truly going on.

Psychology tells us that manipulative individuals often use certain phrases to exert their control. They’re subtle, they’re sneaky, and they’re designed to keep you in their grasp.

Let’s delve into this topic and identify the “8 phrases controlling people use to manipulate you”, so you can be aware and stay one step ahead.

1) “You owe me…”

Manipulation often taps into your sense of obligation.

In the world of psychology, this is known as the principle of reciprocity. It’s a social norm where if someone does something for you, you feel obligated to return the favor.

Manipulative people know how to exploit this norm to their advantage.

“You owe me…” is a phrase often used by such individuals. They remind you of past favors or good deeds they’ve done for you, creating a sense of indebtedness.

The intention is to make you feel guilty or obliged to do what they want, even if it’s against your best interest.

The key is to recognize when this principle is being used against you. Remember, just because someone did something for you in the past doesn’t mean you’re obligated to go against your own values or comfort zone.

Stand your ground and don’t let guilt or obligation blur your judgement.

2) “Nobody else seems to have a problem…”

There’s a particular manipulative phrase that I’ve personally encountered, which is, “Nobody else seems to have a problem…”

This tactic is a classic example of gaslighting. It’s designed to make you question your own feelings, thoughts, and even sanity.

I remember once when I was uncomfortable about the way a project was being managed at work. I raised my concerns with my boss – only to be met with, “Nobody else seems to have a problem with it.”

In that moment, I felt invalidated and began questioning my own judgement.

But recognizing this as a manipulative phrase helped me stand firm. I understood that just because others didn’t voice their concerns, didn’t mean my concerns were invalid.

It’s important to trust your own feelings and instincts. Don’t let anyone use this phrase to manipulate you into doubting yourself.

3) “If you really cared about me…”

The phrase “If you really cared about me…” is a classic manipulation tool that preys on your emotions and feelings. It’s often used to guilt-trip or pressure you into doing something you’re not comfortable with.

This method is called emotional blackmail, and it’s surprisingly common. It’s designed to play on your love, friendship, or sense of duty to get you to comply.

For instance, someone might say, “If you really cared about me, you would lend me the money.” This forces you into a corner where saying no would imply you don’t care about them.

The truth is, caring for someone doesn’t mean complying with all their demands. It’s perfectly okay to set boundaries and say no when necessary.

4) “I’m just saying this for your own good…”

When someone starts a sentence with “I’m just saying this for your own good…”, it’s often a red flag for manipulation. This phrase is used to disguise criticism or control as concern for your wellbeing.

The person using this phrase is trying to control or influence your actions by making it seem like they are looking out for you. They want to make their opinions and wants more palatable to you by framing them as being in your best interest.

But remember, only you can truly decide what’s best for you. Don’t let someone use this phrase to manipulate you into following their agenda. Stand strong in your decisions and trust your judgement.

5) “I hate to be the one to tell you this, but…”

The phrase “I hate to be the one to tell you this, but…” is a classic manipulation tactic. It’s used to frame the speaker as the reluctant bearer of uncomfortable truths, making them seem caring and considerate.

However, what often comes after this phrase is not so much about your benefit as it is about theirs. It’s a way for them to share negative information while avoiding any backlash because they’ve positioned themselves as someone who’s just trying to help.

It can be hurtful when someone you trust uses this phrase to manipulate you. But remember, it’s okay to question the motives behind their words. Trust your gut and remember that it’s fine to set boundaries in your relationships.

6) “You’re just too sensitive…”

When I was younger, I often heard the phrase “You’re just too sensitive…” whenever I expressed hurt or discomfort. It made me feel like my feelings weren’t valid and that I was somehow wrong for having them.

This phrase is a form of gaslighting, a manipulative tactic used to make you doubt your own experiences and perceptions. The intention is to make you feel like you’re overreacting, so that you question your own feelings and reactions.

But here’s what I’ve learned: my feelings are valid, and so are yours. It’s okay to express discomfort or hurt, and it’s okay to expect respect and understanding from others. Don’t let anyone use this phrase to make you doubt yourself or your feelings.

7) “I’m sure you agree that…”

“I’m sure you agree that…” is a sneaky phrase manipulative people use to make their opinions or desires seem like common sense or a shared viewpoint.

This is a subtle way of making you feel like you’re in the wrong if you disagree with what they’re saying. It’s a technique to make their wants and needs seem more important or valid than yours.

But remember, it’s okay to have different opinions. Don’t let anyone pressure you into agreeing with something you don’t believe in or aren’t comfortable with. Stand by your beliefs and don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts and feelings.

8) “Trust me, I know what’s best…”

The phrase “Trust me, I know what’s best…” is one of the most deceptive forms of manipulation. It’s an attempt to assert control by suggesting that they have superior knowledge or insight.

But here’s the crucial thing: no one knows what’s best for you better than you do. You are the expert on your own life, your feelings, your needs, and your boundaries. Don’t let anyone else take that away from you with this manipulative phrase. Stand firm in your self-knowledge and autonomy.

Final thoughts: It’s all about power dynamics

Manipulation is a complex psychological game, often rooted in power dynamics.

The phrases we’ve explored are tools that manipulative individuals use to shift this power balance in their favor. They’re designed to make you doubt your own feelings, perceptions, and instincts, thus giving the manipulator more control.

But remember, the real power lies within you. You have the right to stand your ground, to express your feelings, and to make decisions that are in your best interest.

Recognizing these manipulative phrases is the first step towards reclaiming that power. It’s about shifting the balance back in your favor and standing strong in your autonomy.

Don’t let these phrases steer you off course. Trust yourself, respect your boundaries, and always remember: you hold the power over your life.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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