Let’s face it. Manipulators are all around us. It may not seem so at first, but once you know what to look out for, you’ll start noticing them more and more.
And when you know how to spot them, you’ll want to learn how to deal with them, too.
That’s where this article comes in. In it, you’ll understand many clever ways to deal with a highly skilled manipulator.
So, let’s begin!
1) Trust your instincts – they’re usually spot on
First of all, trust your instincts. They’re like an internal radar. If you sense something isn’t right, pay attention.
It could be subtle cues, uneasy feelings, or inconsistencies in someone’s behavior that your subconscious is picking up on.
Sometimes, we like a person so much that we just don’t want to believe our own gut yelling to us, “Pay attention!”
2) Keep your emotions in check; don’t let them push your buttons
Emotions are a powerful tool for manipulators. By staying composed, you’re not giving them the emotional response they desire.
So, take a deep breath, step back mentally, and assess the situation before reacting.
Emotional control is your secret weapon. By staying calm, you deny them the satisfaction of knowing they’ve gotten under your skin.
It also gives you the mental clarity to deal with this challenging situation. For example, to do this:
3) Document interactions to have a record of their manipulative tactics
Imagine you’re dealing with someone you find manipulative. It could be a co-worker, friend, or anyone in your life, really.
Start noting down instances where you feel they’re trying to manipulate you. You can do this in a journal, on your phone, or any method that works for you.
When you’re in the midst of manipulation, emotions can cloud your judgment. Looking back at your notes gives you a more objective perspective on the situation.
Note specific incidents, dates, and any relevant details. This will serve you as a reference and also help you see patterns and tactics the manipulator is using.
So, take photos, videos, or whatever else you can to have firm proof of what they’re doing. Trust me, it will come in handy one day if you stay long enough in their company.
But should you even wait for something to happen, or should you cut off all contact? Keep on reading, as I’m going to explain that a bit later.
4) Focus on facts and evidence instead of emotional appeals
As I already said, manipulators often appeal to emotions rather than facts.
Stay grounded in reality by relying on concrete evidence and verifiable information. This makes it harder for them to manipulate your feelings.
In reality, it would look like this:
When you’re talking to the manipulator, keep it simple. Start by sticking to the facts of what happened – like who did what, when it happened, and any important details. Don’t let emotions take over the conversation.
If you can, show proof to support your side. It could be emails, texts, or any documents that back up what you’re saying.
Having evidence makes your point stronger and makes it tougher for the manipulator to argue against the facts.
Also, steer clear of language that’s emotionally charged (“You always make me feel…” or “I can’t believe you did that”).
Focus on statements like “On this date, you said/did…” This keeps the discussion grounded in objective reality.
5) When you notice manipulative behavior, point it out in the moment
Okay, so when it comes to calling out this behavior, it will be harder for people who don’t like to confront others.
But this is an important step in dealing with them. Choose your words carefully. You don’t need to be confrontational, but assertively express what you’ve observed.
So, let’s say your colleague likes to manipulate information during team meetings. When it happens, respond with, “I see what’s happening here. Let’s focus on finding solutions rather than shifting blame. We’re a team, and working together is crucial.”
Or tell them, “I notice you’re trying to shift the blame onto me. Let’s address the issue directly.”
Once you’ve called out the manipulative behavior, bring the conversation back to what you were originally talking about.
This helps to keep the focus on the real issue and prevents the manipulator from derailing the conversation with their tactics.
6) Establish consequences
Now, we have to make it clear that continued manipulation will result in consequences, such as a strained relationship, not trusting them anymore, or giving them limited access.
If someone in your family keeps manipulating you to lend them money over and over, you can say, “I can’t keep lending you money. If it happens again, I’ll have to change how we handle money, and, well, it could affect our relationship.”
But here’s the key: don’t say it unless you mean it. If they cross that line again, be ready to stick to what you said.
Being consistent is important so they know you’re serious about setting boundaries.
7) Don’t be afraid to say “no” when necessary; assertiveness is key
Standing up for yourself is like building a skill – it might feel a bit tough at first, but it gets easier with practice.
When you say “no” when necessary, you’re basically reinforcing your personal boundaries.
This tells them that they can’t easily make you do things against your will.
Let’s say a friend often tries to make you feel guilty to get you to do things. You can keep it simple by saying, “I’ve got a lot on my plate lately, so I won’t be as available. Let’s catch up when things calm down.”
That’s all you need to say. Avoid going into too much detail because, as you’ll notice, giving them extra information can be used against you later on. Keep it straightforward and firm.
8) Don’t share personal information
Think twice about sharing personal stuff, especially with folks who might use it against you. It’s smart to keep sensitive details to yourself, especially if you feel someone could manipulate you with that info.
Only spill the beans on deep feelings or insecurities if you’re sure it’s a safe and supportive relationship. Manipulators thrive on exploiting emotions, so be cautious.
Choose wisely what you reveal, and never feel pressured to spill more than you’re comfy with. I’ve found that finding a balance between being open and protecting your privacy works best.
In fact, many people don’t need to know every little detail about how much money you have (or don’t have), what keeps you up at night about your marriage, what deep personal traumas you have, and so on.
9) Use humor as it can diffuse tense situations
Humor often works best when it’s relatable. Look for common experiences or shared situations that everyone can find amusing.
What I like doing is sharing a relevant and funny anecdote to shift the focus and mix in a moment of silliness.
10) Limit contact and cut ties if necessary
Lastly, take a step back and look at how the relationship is going.
If you’re feeling consistently manipulated, stressed, or just not good about it, it might be time to limit how much you’re involved.
Let them know when you’re available, and don’t agree to meet outside those times.
Gradually reduce how often you interact. This way, you can create some distance without causing a sudden change.
But, sometimes, the healthiest option is to distance yourself. Cutting ties doesn’t mean you’ve lost.
It’s a smart move to protect your mental health. Always put your well-being first, and if the manipulation keeps happening, it’s okay to remove yourself from the situation.
Never feel guilty about it. If a relationship is consistently causing stress, anxiety, or other negative feelings, it’s okay to prioritize your own peace of mind.
In order to deal with highly skilled manipulators, you need to have the stomach to do it.
Always trust what your gut is telling you about someone. If it’s wrong, that’s okay. But if it’s right, it might just save you.
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