We can all be a bit manipulative at times, some more so than others.
But especially manipulative people tend to have certain phrases they say that aren’t quite as innocent as they may seem at first.
Let’s take a look at some of these manipulative phrases and how people use them to throw shade at you.
Let’s dive in.
1) “If you wouldn’t mind…”
This is just a polite way of asking for something, right?
In some cases perhaps that’s true. But in many other cases this can actually be a fairly passive aggressive way to phrase something.
The person is asking for something while acting like there’s no pressure on you.
What if you do mind? You’re now going to feel guilty.
2) “You worry too much”
This is essentially a form of gaslighting disguised as empathy.
Being told you worry too much may be true!
But when you are made to feel this way you get the basic message that there is something wrong with you.
3) “You shouldn’t feel that way…”
This is another variation on the previous statement.
Being told how you feel is quite controlling, to say the least. It’s also easy for a manipulator to wrap this in layers of concern.
Being told that you shouldn’t feel sad or upset, for example, is likely to create more feelings that you are broken or “wrong” for what you’re experiencing.
4) “It’s all in your imagination”
When you have any lack of self-esteem or self-doubt, this type of tactic can hit really hard.
Being told that you’re not in touch with reality is a classic gaslighting technique.
The manipulator is trying to get you to accept their version of reality and to comply with whatever they want you to do or believe.
5) “I like that side of you the most…”
This is a fairly complimentary thing to hear, and can enchant you easily.
But there can be darker undertones to this kind of statement, because you’re being divided into “sides” and told which are preferable.
The obvious implication is that there is a side or other sides of you which are not very likable.
But being accepted as a person is about not being divided up into good and bad sides, which is why saying this kind of thing can be quite judgmental.
6) “I already said I was sorry”
This is a statement where you’re being told that you can’t be upset or should fast forward getting over something.
The manipulator is making it clear that their apology means you’re no longer supposed to be upset in any way.
They said they were sorry, and now your “job” is to not be upset anymore and to get over it already.
What if you don’t want to get over it yet or aren’t ready to?
7) “You’re too dramatic”
This is a classic gaslighting statement that manipulative people will use.
It makes you feel there is something wrong with you and that your emotions and reactions to things put you beyond the pale of normal behavior and reactions.
But is that actually true?
You’re “too dramatic” according to them, but what makes this person the appointed judge of what is too dramatic?
This is a very gaslighting-adjacent statement.
8) “Calm down already”
This is something manipulative people love to say, because it means their attempts to rile you up are working.
Now you’re the one with an issue and the one who’s out of bounds and out of control.
You need to calm down and stop being upset.
You need to do whatever the manipulator says (or that’s their goal and what they want you to believe at this point).
9) “You always act like this”
This is a typical manipulative complaint.
You’re being told that your behavior is tiring and that it never changes. It reinforces feelings of not being good enough and being flawed in some irrevocable way.
Even if it’s true that you often act a certain way, this kind of statement leaves you no room to change.
We all need to be given that potential to act a different way, but the manipulator is trapping you in a static definition here and making you feel terrible.
10) “Looks like you already have it all figured out, boss”
This is one of the kind of sarcastic, sneering statements that manipulative people will make.
It can be delivered with a smile and a wink, but it’s hard for somebody to deliver lines like this without at least an undertone of “f*ck you” to them.
I mean, any similar statement to this is a way to indicate that you’re cocky or annoying and that the manipulative person somewhat disapproves of the course of action you’re taking or the beliefs you’re espousing.
“Manipulative people may also use passive-aggressive behavior as a way to manipulate others.
It can include snide comments, sarcastic remarks, or subtly sabotaging to get what they want.”
11) “You’re really into that stuff, aren’t you?”
This is a way of indicating that you’re interested and passionate about some things that they find silly or strange.
By making this kind of sarcasm-tinged statement the manipulator makes it clear that they don’t share your interest and also find it a little laughable.
If you’re insecure in any way, they also set you on a path of now chasing their approval or trying to find out why the things you’re into are somehow not cool or acceptable.
What’s wrong with what you’re into, exactly?
12) “If you really cared you’d…”
This is a love test type of question where you’re told that you must do something to prove your love.
When you’re given statements like this it can be a real test of your will to resist.
Any doubts or feelings you have for someone will rise to the surface and you may feel a strong temptation to comply with the manipulator and do whatever is asked.
13) “You don’t get it”
Being told you don’t understand is a classic way of being manipulated.
This immediately puts you in the position of chasing after somebody and trying to understand what they mean or feeling guilty.
Once you feel guilty you’re now clay in the hands of the manipulator and much more likely to do whatever they ask of you.
14) “You made this happen”
Another guilting tactic of the manipulative person is to blame what they say or do on you.
Saying the above statement is a way to make you feel that you are to blame for everything that’s being said or done.
Even if they’ve made a mistake or done something wrong, this person wants you to feel that it’s on you.
15) “Your friend would never agree with that”
This is known as triangulation and is where the manipulator brings a third person into the conversation.
By bringing somebody else into the interaction, the manipulator makes you feel that there’s only one appropriate course of action.
“You should do X because your friend would never agree with doing Y!”
16) “That’s not what I wanted at all”
Goalpost moving is another thing that manipulative people love to do.
They will make requests or demands and then when you move to try to accommodate these goals they will switch what they asked for.
The goal is to keep you in a constant state of confusion and guilt, feeling that you aren’t living up to what they want.
“Sometimes, no matter how much you show up for someone who manipulates, they will change their expectations at the last minute to keep you constantly running toward their ‘goalposts.’”
Dealing with a manipulator
The best way to deal with a manipulator is to not react right away or give in to their attempt to jerk you around.
If you feel yourself getting upset or dragged into an argument, do your best not to react right away.
If at all possible, take steps to disengage from the interaction or avoid whatever is being discussed.
The manipulator feeds off your input and reactions, and will usually gaslight you the more upset and involved you get.